There are two types of putter faces: insert putters and milled putters. Insert putters have a soft “insert” inserted (wow, creative name) on the face of the putter. Milled putters have no such insert, as their faces are made by a complex milling process.
What’s the difference between the two? Is there even a difference? Surely they have a different “feel” to them, right?
Well to begin with, feel is definitely subjective. And feel is actually directly linked to sound more than anything else. A louder, higher pitch sound off the face makes the golfer feel as if the putter is more firm. On the other hand, a lower pitch and quieter sound from the putter face seems to feel more soft at impact. Inserts give this exact feel to golfers, so everyone associates insert putters with being softer than milled putters.
However, this difference has largely gone away or at least diminished in the past decade. Companies today can produce milled putters that feel very soft to users due to a process called deep milling. Deep milling allows less of the putter face to actually make contact with the golf ball, resulting in a lower sound and therefore a “softer” feeling than a typical milled putter would sound/feel.
These days, you can definitely find anywhere from soft to firm putter faces in both styles of putters. Getting a lot of experience and practicing with many different putters is truly the best (really the ONLY) way that you can find what works best for you and what feels best for you. Everyone is different. Some people swear they will never use an insert putter. Others can’t imagine leaving their trusty Odyssey insert putters for a “harder” feel.
Me personally, I love both. I really just love any putter that makes me confident over the ball and gets the ball in the hole! I go back and forth between various putters, and I fall in love with both insert putters and milled putters each time I revert to the other style. Getting a new feeling in my hands is always very satisfying, and it makes me more likely to practice my putting too, so that’s a plus!
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All links/photos (if clicked on) will take you to the respective putters on eBay.
Something to keep in mind: it’s very easy to think a putter is perfect for you while practicing on a store putting green. However, after you get on a real putting green, you might feel otherwise! So I encourage you to find a way to demo putters on real greens if at all possible
How to try different putter styles:
- I know that my club and many other local ones have putting days where they bring out the latest releases for everyone to try. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of so that you can try both insert putters and milled putters for as long as you want.
- Your pro shop might even allow you to take any putter you are interested in out to the putting green to try them out.
- Another option would be to try one of your friend’s putter if you can. You might have an insert putter but want to try out a milled putter. If that’s the case, your friend might allow you to try theirs out so you can get a feel for what a milled putter feels like.
The takeaway: the general rule is that an insert putter will have a deeper, quieter sound than a milled putter. However, many things like pocket/groove depth, pocket/groove position, hosel location, thickness of the putter, putter grip, putter weight, and golf ball selection will all impact how a putter sounds/feels. You’ll have to try out multiple putters of each type (insert vs milled) to determine which works best and feels best for you.
One thing is pretty agreed upon, though: milled putters vs. insert putters don’t impact distance control or forgiveness of a putter. That is truly something that you just have to get used to. Insert putters do not have better distance control than milled putter. No research or studies support this, yet it is often believed and repeated.
My personal belief: Milled putters are both sexier and provide more feedback than insert putters. Obviously the first point doesn’t help much besides just feeling good about your putting. The second part though, the one about more feedback, might have a larger benefit than you’d think.
Distance control is largely affected by where you hit the ball on the face. On an insert putter, it is very difficult to determine where you hit it on the face. It all feels the same in my experience. However, with a milled putter, I feel/hear a more click-like sound when I miss the center of the putter. As a result, I think I slowly develop a more consistent center contact (and therefore improved distance control) when I am gaming my milled putter. On top of that, I really just like the response and the feel/sound of a nice milled putter face.
Now comes the fun part (for me at least). Let’s talk about some of the best milled and insert putters!
The Best Milled Putters
Lower Priced Milled Putters: Cleveland Huntington Beach
Looking for the lowest priced milled putters that will perform incredibly well? The Cleveland Huntington Beach putters are your best bet. I wish I could put the Cleveland Classics I putters on there, but they are simply too hard to find in decent condition now a days.
These putters come in many different models, with my favorite one being the #1 model. Just a simple, compact blade style putter with a great milled feeling/sound. If I were to buy a new milled putter today, it would be this one or the sexy Wilson 8802 blade putter listed below.
For the prices, these putters are an absolute steal. You’ll see many off brand, crappy putters trying to be sold for these prices that just couldn’t come close to compare in quality.
Best Value Milled Putters: SeeMore Original Series
The first time I saw SeeMore putters, I honestly thought they were too complicated and too distracting. A year later, there I was playing with a Seemore M1T putter, which is one of my favorite ones of all time. They have a great alignment system to make sure your putter is not aiming too far left or right at address.
It also encourages a more arced putting motion, which is a great factor in my opinion. Overall, SeeMore putters have a great feel to them. They provide the perfect amount of feedback for someone that wants to prioritize center contact on the putter face.
Best Milled Blade Putter: Wilson 8802
I’ll go ahead and admit that I have a crazy love for the Wilson 8802 Milled putter. The first time that I hit it in an Edwin Watts store absolutely hooked me. I’ve never forgotten it, and I will surely end up buying it in the next 12 months. My 10-putter collection isn’t large enough yet I guess!
Such a great feeling at impact, I honestly could have practiced with it all day and not gotten tired of it. This putter was actually one of the first milled putters that I ever putted with too!
Best Overall Milled Putters: Scotty Cameron
If you can afford the best of the best, then don’t settle for anything else besides a Scotty Cameron putter. They are by far the most popular and prestigious putters in the world, and for good reason. Their milling process is extremely unique and complex; as a result, the performance and feel of the putters are unmatched.
My favorite models are the Newport 2, but all of the models are so beautiful that it is truly hard to pick. Pick the one that best suits your eyes!
The Best Insert Putters
Lower Priced Insert Putters: Ray Cook
If you are a good putter, you could putt with a rock. You could putt with a piece of wood. It really wouldn’t matter. As a result, I will throw this budget brand Ray Cook putters in this article. They produce a wide range of putters, so you are sure to be able to find one that suits you.
Ray Cook is more famous for mallet putters, so I would stick with a mallet one if you are undecided at the moment. They are very stable throughout the putting motion and feel very soft at impact due to their insert.
Best Value Insert Putters: Odyssey
The best value brand of insert putters is definitely Odyssey. They are probably the most popular putters among amateurs in the United State, and for very good reason. They are super soft at impact. They come in so many different colors and models.
My favorite series of putters are the White Hot Pro and Versa series. Model-wise, I really like the #1 (standard blade) and #7 (mallet) putters. The best I have ever putted in my life was with a Odyssey White Hot Pro #7 putter, so I will never forget that!
Best Overall Insert Putters: TaylorMade
As of the past 2 years, TaylorMade has shot itself to the top of putter brands. They have released some very high dollar putters that ended up being very popular. For example, the TaylorMade Spider putter is the hottest thing at the moment.
TaylorMade, like Odyssey, has made tons of high quality insert putters throughout the last 5 years. My personal favorites have been the White Smoke and Tour Preferred models.