What Is a Face-Balanced Putter?

And are they best for a certain type of putting stroke?

The clubface of a face-balanced putter points skyward when the shaft is balanced across a finger
When you balance a putter on your finger and the clubface rests in this position - pointing skyward - the putter is face-balanced. Cleveland Golf

"Face-balanced" is a term applied to putters, and a putter that is face-balanced will be favored by golfers with a particular type of putting stroke. Generally speaking, a golfer who uses a straight-back-and-through putting stroke should favor face-balanced putters.

What Makes a Putter 'Face-Balanced'?

The term "face-balanced putter" derives from the literal act of balancing a putter.

Take a putter and place it lengthwise (so the shaft is parallel to the ground) across your index finger.

Move your finger back and forth along the shaft until you find the balance point, and can balance the putter there across your finger.

Now look at the clubface: Is the clubface flat, facing straight up, skyward, and running parallel to the ground (in the position of the putter in the photo above)? If it is, then the putter is face-balanced. (If the toe of the putter is pointing downward, causing the clubface to not be facing upward, then the putter is not face-balanced, it is toe-balanced.)

What Face-Balanced Putters Do (Or Don't)

Putters that are face-balanced have clubhead properties (such as the shaft's entry point and the center-of-gravity location) such that they open less on the backstroke and close less on the through-stroke in the putting motion. In other words, the face of a face-balanced putter rotates less during the stroke compared to a toe-balanced putter.

Who Needs a Face-Balanced Putter?

Because the clubface of a face-balanced putter opens and closes less during the putting stroke, these types of putters are best-suited for golfers who use a straight-back-and-through putting stroke.

If you try to putt with a straightline motion, you don't want the clubface opening and closing, after all.

On the other hand, a face-balanced putter is likely a poor choice for golfers who use a strong arc (a k a, swinging gate) or slightly arcing putting stroke. Those golfers do want a clubface that opens and closes during the stroke, and should look for a toe-balanced putter.

For comparison, see our pages on toe-balanced putters and toe hang.

How Do You Find a Face-Balanced Putter?

Many, but certainly not all, mallet-style putters are face-balanced, so that's one place to start. Also, manufacturers often point out in their marketing efforts when a putter is face-balanced. You may be able to find such information on a manufacturer's website.

And knowledgeable staff at a golf pro shop should be able to point you in the right direction. (If none of the above works, you can always try literally balancing the putter's shaft on a finger tip to see whether the toe is drooping or the face rests parallel to the ground.)

The foolproof method of making sure your putter is well-matched to your type of stroke is a putter fitting. Clubfittings for driver, irons and wedges are better-known, but putter fittings are also offered by clubfitters and some teaching pros. If you are a golfer who takes his or her game seriously and wants to get those scores down, then a putter fitting may help.