By Dave Wolfe
Does Counterbalanced Give You An Advantage?
Let’s find out!
But first let’s quickly talk about what a counterbalance putter is and why they’re gaining in popularity. In counterbalanced putter designs, the weighting, and often the total length, differs from a conventional putter. Counterbalanced putter heads are heavier, in some cases by 50 grams or more. To compensate for the extra weight, even more weight is placed above the golfer’s hands. This is accomplished by extending the shaft length, adding more weight to the end of the shaft itself, or both.
This counterbalance technology increases the putters’s overall MOI (moment of inertia), which in theory, they tell us, will make our putting strokes more stable.
Although counterbalancing isn’t new, manufacturers have promoted its benefits as an alternative to anchoring, which as you know the USGA has banned (the new rule goes into effect in 2016). Forward-thinking putter manufactures have quickly come up with alternatives for those who currently anchor. Counterbalancing is, to date, the most popular of those alternatives.
Counterbalancing is more stable alternative to standard putter. You will make more putts. You will lower your scores.
At least that’s what we’ve been told…
But Is Counterbalancing The Answer?
While there has been a lot of talk, and type, about counterbalancing being the anchoring answer, any data supporting such a claim has been conspicuously absent. At MyGolfSpy, we are all about data. If counterbalanced putters do offer advantages on the course, those advantages should be quantifiable through objective testing.
For this test we used three identical Bettinardi Golf putters. The only difference between the models tested was the fact that one was standard and one was counterbalanced. The models tested were the BB1, the BB32, and the BB55. Using the scoring results from these putters allows us to compare standard and counterbalanced versions of the same putters, from the same manufacturer, and, most importantly, in the hands of the same testers.
If the counterbalanced putters do, in fact, provide an advantage, then we should see that advantage demonstrated in the Number of Putts Made and Accuracy data.
DATA: Number of Putts Made
When we compile the makes from the three models, we see that the differences between the make percentage for the counterbalanced vs. non-counterbalanced is inconclusive. While there may potentially be a made putt advantage with the BB1-CB (see Individual Putter Data), the data as a while does not support any assertions that golfer will automatically sink more putts by switching to a counterbalanced putter.
When we look at the individual putters, the only counterbalanced model that suggests an even slight, Number of Putts Made advantage is the BB1-CB.
The BB1-CB’s make percentages were higher for two of the recorded distances. However, since the scores for the BB1-CB are only marginally better, we can’t definitively say that the counterbalanced version of the BB1 gives a golfer the ability to make more putts than he or she would with the standard version. The data only suggests that there may be something there.
The other models produced very inconclusive data. The BB32 and BB55 pairs tied at one distance for makes, while splitting wins at the other two distances. No definitive counterbalanced advantage was observed for either mallet in this category.
DATA: Accuracy at 5’, 10’, and 20’
When we compile and average the accuracy values for the three models, we see that the counterbalanced putters were no more accurate as a group than the standard putters. The per-putt differences between the standard and the counterbalanced models would not not be noticeable for the average golfer out on the course.
This data suggests that there is no practical accuracy advantage to gaming counterbalanced putters.
The BB1-CB had a slight putts made advantage over the standard BB1, but the overall accuracy values show that the standard version of the BB1 was more accurate at two of the three distances. The standard version of the BB32 also proved more accurate at 10’ and 20’, after scoring significantly lower than the BB32-CB at 5’.
In contrast, testers put up more accurate scores at 10’ and 20’ with the BB55-CB than they did the standard version. This data supports would seem to support the idea that counterbalancing could make the putter more accurate from distance than its non-counterbalanced equivalent.
So are counterbalanced putters the anchoring answer?
Our data suggests that using a counterbalanced putter will not magically make any golfer a better putter. For out test group, neither Putts Made nor overall Accuracy improved to any significant degree as a result of switching to a counterbalanced model.
The counterbalanced putters may not be the miracle stick for all golfers, but it is still possible that counterbalanced putters will be the answer for some golfers when the anchoring ban goes into effect. There is a subset of golfers, both amateur and professional, who believe that they cannot putt effectively with a standard putter. It’s the reason why they went to the anchored putter in the first place. For these golfers, the counterbalanced putter could prove to be an effectively matched tool, providing smoothness and stability that would otherwise be lost with the loss of anchoring.