Once upon a time, face grooves on putters may have seemed like a fad. But not anymore. A survey of the current putter landscape shows that grooves are as popular as ever.
Putter grooves are grooved patterns on the face of a putter designed to grip or otherwise engage the ball in a manner that promotes quicker topspin for a truer roll. Grooves can also affect feel and ball speed by limiting the surface area in contact with the ball.
Nike Golf’s milled Method putters (pictured here) feature a “Polymetal Groove Technology” with a polymer groove that raises the launch angle and a secondary metal groove that is designed to generate immediate topspin. The polymer is ported from behind the face, creating a polymer backing that reduces vibration and softens the feel.
The proprietary concentric C-Grooves on YES! putters are positioned at a 20-degree upward slant. According to the company, “Upon contact, these edges grip the ball surface and apply physical forces that simultaneously lift the ball out of its resting position and impart and over-the-top rolling motion.”
Rife Putters has also been a longtime groove proponent: “Our precisely milled and spaced grooves grip, hold, and release the ball into an immediate forward roll without any skipping or skidding. Rife Putters with RollGroove Technology utilize less loft because of the friction or gripping created by the grooves on the face. The ball is gripped rather than chipped, held through impact, and then released into an immediate forward roll.”
According to TaylorMade Golf, the “Pure Roll” grooved insert on its Ghost putters “holds the ball at impact, reducing backspin. This helps to launch the ball with forward spin, thus reducing the chance of the ball skidding off line.”
Grooves are not always all about the roll of the ball, however. The protruding metal ribs on Never Compromise’s X-Ray putters are designed to reduce the surface contact area to provide “consistent ball velocity off the face.” The Mizuno Bettinardi Black Carbon putters features Feel Impact Technology (F.I.T.), which consist of finely milled notches in the carbon steel putter face. These notches are designed to reduce the contact surface area by 70 percent for enhanced feel and responsiveness.
The topic of face grooves is a bit of a hornet’s nest in the putter industry. Some swear by them while others remain skeptical. Clouding the discussion is the fact that grooved putters often have lower stock lofts, prompting some to suggest that this lower loft is what generates quicker topspin on testing surfaces that are harder than the average green.
What’s important to know is that grooves might help, and that they likely don’t hurt. When testing putters with grooves, keep a close eye on the roll, and if you like what you see (or feel), it might be a good fit for you.