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The Cost of Putters: Pricey or Priceless?

At PutterZone.com, we are often asked: How much should I pay for a putter?

Similarly, when we recommend a putter that costs more than $250, we sometimes get the following comment: No putter is worth that much!

Well, there is no right or wrong answer to the question of worth or value in a putter. The Cleveland Classic putter ($69 retail) has won on the PGA Tour, proving that you can get rock-solid performance for less than $100.

So why pay more?

Here’s our take, as excerpted from our Putter Buyer’s Guide: “It may be worth paying extra for a putter that just feels great and looks beautiful, a putter that will make you look forward to putting. When you have a putter that inspires you, you will be more inspired to practice your putting—which will ultimately help you sink more putts when it counts.”

Also: “Some people contend that $200 or $300 is a ridiculous price to pay for a putter. Yet no one seems offended by golfers paying $400 for the latest mass-produced driver, even though the putter is used nearly three times as often as the driver in an average round of golf. In that context, it is quite reasonable to invest in a high-quality putter that may cost $200 or more.”

We were reminded of this debate when reading a recent article in Time Magazine about Apple’s iPad.

Here is the relevant quote from the article: “We are human beings; our first responses to anything are dominated not by calculations but by feelings. What Apple understands is that if you have an object in your pocket or hand for hours every day, then your relationship with it is profound, human and emotional.

And: “Apple’s success has been founded on consumer products that address this side of us: their products make users smile…If you are immune to that kind of thing, or you think it somehow weak, pretentious, artsy-fartsy or unbusinesslike, then there are enough functional objects in the market for you. But you might consider this: from the starting point of delight, detail, finish, polish and design come not, it seems, shallow high-end toys for the affluent but increasingly products that are, well, awesomely functional.”

In the putter world, you could substitute “SeeMore” or “Bettinardi” for Apple, to name a few. Their putters are not only beautifully made, but also “awesomely functional.” The craftsmanship and materials are superior, and no detail is overlooked. Performance is never in question.

As such, these putters can create an emotional resonance, a deep affection that makes you look forward to putting, and to practicing your putting.

They can also cost you northward of $250. Yes, they might be pricey, but they also exhibit priceless qualities that, for many, are well worth the added investment.

About Sean Weir

Sean Weir is the founder and editor of PutterZone.com, and the author of Putter Perfection, the definitive guide to putter fitting. Profile: Google+

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  1. The flaw with this argument is that the people that are complaining about putter prices aren't paying full retail price for a driver. I'm one of those people. I've never owned a brand new driver. I paid $60 used for my 2009 Launcher. I just can't make myself spend much more than $175 or so for a new putter.

    Also, there are very few putters out there that retain their value. Why pay $325, $250, $175 for a new putter when I can wait for a few months and get the same putter, slightly used, for a fraction of the cost? It pains me that I can't directly support great companies like SeeMore and buy their products directly from them, but I simply can't afford to pay $325 for a putter. I paid $170 for my m1, used, and that's about the limit I can spend. I just watched a basically brand new m7 putter sell on eBay for just over $200. That putter lost over $100 in value and it's been out for what, a month?

    I know that the "but you can pay blah blah for that driver" argument is the argument that everyone has loaded and ready to use, but I don't think it applies. The people that are paying full retail for a driver probably are paying full retail for their putters too. The rest of us can't afford either.

  2. Good points, Ben. But I think that your examples are relative.

    You don't pay full retail for your putters OR your drivers. You sound like a savvy shopper who can work the secondary market and avoid counterfeits along the way.

    Still, the m1 that you got for $170 is nearly double the cost of a brand new PING Karsten putter.

    There must have been a good reason for that added investment on your part…and that's the crux of what I'm talking about here.

    For some reason, the mere idea of a $300 putter just seems to boil some people's blood. Why?

    For SeeMore to design and craft that m1 from superior materials in the United States, and to offer all of the custom options that go along with it, and to conduct all of the back-end R&D to produce the putter in the first place, they have to charge $300+ retail.

    Their only other options are to create a lesser putter or to run an unprofitable business.

    In that context, is the $300+ price absurd or ridiculous? Not in my book.

    I love the Karstens and the Cleveland Classics for offering tremendous value at a great price.

    But I also love the SeeMores and Bettinardis of the world for offering more for more.

  3. I wasn't trying to say the price was absurd or offensive, I'm just saying that the Driver/Putter price argument doesn't make much sense. Your secondary comments here make a much better argument. Being made 100% in the US will increase cost. The cost of materials is definitely an issue.

    Unfortunately, the Made in the USA arguement only applies to SeeMore and a few others. How about the manufacturers that don't craft 100% in the US? Scotty Cameron and Odyssey for instance. Most of their models are made in China. What's the excuse there?

  4. I hear you, my point with driver-putter is simply that, all things being equal (specifically retail price), I rarely hear anyone scream about the cost of the latest mass-produced driver at $300 to $400, but the $300 artisan putter is often scoffed at.

    There just seems to be more resentment over a $300 putter than a $300 driver, and I don't get it.

    Perhaps there's equal scoffing going on out there and I'm only hearing the putter side of things.

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