Ben Hogan claimed golf was really two games, one played through the air, the other on the ground. Even Hogan, perhaps the greatest shotmaker ever, confessed to occasional feelings of helplessness when a putter was placed in his hands.
Putters on the market today resemble everything from plumbing fixtures to props from "Star Wars" and all seek to give the golfer confidence on the greens. Anything to get that blessed ball to drop into the hole .
Woods and irons are built along similar lines, but putters, as long as they fall within the generous Rules of Golf (all pictured do), allow the manufacturer imagination .
The accompanying illustrations, reprinted with permission of Golf Digest magazine, show various so-called "sight-line" putters, those with a line drawn on the putter head indicating the ideal path for the ball to follow. But, the pictures also serve to show offshoots of the two basic putter types, the mallet, with the semicircular head, and the traditional blade .
Billy Casper is probably the professional most adept with the mallet, George Archer and Tom Watson are masters with the comparatively new "Ping" and Hubert Green putted like a demon to win last year's U.S. Open with a blade four decades old .
The most familiar wand of all, a simple, center-shafted instrument called the "Bulls Eye" (not pictured here), is put to best use by Johnny Miller and Hale Irwin.