Most putters are made from steel. This is not because there is some kind of unreasonable advantage to be had from using a wood putter. It is really because, at the low velocities at which putters are almost always swung, the surface tension, weight, and density of a steel putter are generally considered preferable. However, every golfer is different both mentally and physically, so it is not surprising that a few would want or even prefer a wood putter.
Because the use of wooden putters is uncommon, and because many drivers are made of wood, many people assume using a wooden putter violates some longstanding rule of Golf. Nevertheless, this has led to a lot of questions and curiosity about wood putters and putters made of other unusual, innovative, or unconventional materials.
No matter what your clubs are made of, what’ most important is that you get quality clubs made to suit your biomechanics and your style. You need a comfortable club, that gives you the exact amount of power you need, maximizes accuracy, and feels good in the hand.
Are Wood Putters Legal in Golf?
There is nothing in the USGA rule book against wooden putters. There are several rules for woods, irons, and putters mostly involving length, but materials used are not among those rules. In Appendix II, Section 1 of the Rules of Golf, a putter is defined as a “[…] club with a loft not exceeding ten degrees designed primarily for use on the putting green.”
Like all clubs, a putter must be at least 18 inches in length. Woods and irons can be no longer than 48 inches, but putters have no limit to their legal length. The head of a putter is not permitted to exceed 7 inches and the height of the head may be no greater than 2 and a half inches.
There are a number of other rules including the dimensions of markings on the putter’s face, shaft angles, and orientation to the target line. Other than these rules, there is nothing addressing the material a putter is made from.
What Putters are Illegal in Golf?
The USAG has seen and outlawed certain forms of illegal putter.
Non-Uniform Multiple Striking Surfaces
Putters with multiple non-uniform striking surfaces are illegal. Putters can have more than one striking surface, but they must be identical.
No Striking Surface
A putter must have a flat regulation striking surface. Meaning, a baseball bat, a cricket bat, and your sneaker are not permitted for use as putters.
A putter may have only one neck between the head and the shaft.
Necks or neck features that extend the head away from the centerline of the shaft more than .84 inches are not permitted.
The neck must be plain in appearance, meaning, no holes or other embellishments are permitted.
It might seem clever to build a spring into the neck, but the USAG says it’s not allowed.
People have built putters to hold and release balls, conveniently keeping the player from having to bend over. But again, the USGA does not approve.
Just as a computer articulated, bionic putter is not allowed, neither is mounting a laser sight on one.
What Makes a Putter Illegal?
Realistically, there are many possible things that could make a putter illegal. The most obvious prohibited features when looking at the Rules of Golf would be a club shorter than 18 inches, one with an oversized head, or a putter that has markings on the face that form lips, extrusions, or otherwise interfere with the flat regulation face of the head.
Of course, with a little imagination, it would be easy to think up some kind of putter that would clearly be illegal. In fact, one popular YouTube channel has showcased a machine that can swing a baseball bat with such accuracy that a man with a bucket could move across its visual cone and the machine could hit a ball directly into the bucket. Certainly, a putter rigged to such an apparatus would be illegal, but nobody was asking about its legality.
Are Homemade Putters Legal?
Homemade putters are not illegal as long as they conform to the rules, regulations, and standards of the Rules of Golf as delineated by the USGA. However, you might find that the metallurgical skills and tool set you would need to make a good putter are hard to come by. Your best bet might be to carve one out of wood. Then again, by the time you practiced carving enough to make a good one, you would have been able to save up enough to simply buy a nice wood putter.
Where Can I Buy a Custom Wooden Putter?
If you want a custom wood putter optimized for your biomechanical proclivities and preferences, your best bet is to work with a professional-grade manufacturer like Old Dog Custom Wood Putters. With Old Dog Putters, you can be sure you’re getting the highest quality available, and (unless you opt for the laser mount) your custom wooden putter is guaranteed to be 100% USAG approved.