Of all the things worthy of discussion, one topic consistently tops the forums when it comes to agreeing to disagree: beads on putters. Who knew a bit of plastic could be so divisive?
Whether you feel strongly one way or another (or don't care at all), one thing we all agree on is: choosing putters relies heavily on your personal preference and nobody can tell you otherwise. So let's talk about beaded vs beadless putters.
If you want skip to the fun part you can shop popular disc golf putters here.
The bottom line:
- Beaded putters have a small bit of plastic that has been molded as part of the bottom rim, creating a smooth ridge or lip.
- Beadless putters have a bottom rim without the extra "lip", which means the bottom of the disc ends with a rounded edge.
So What Is A Bead?
If you're newer to disc golf, there are lots of terminologies that get thrown around. Understanding a bead is pretty simple. Just flip your putter over and take a look at the bottom rim. If there's a small lip on the bottom that feels like a ridge, that's called a bead. It might jut out from the bottom of the disc a little bit, depending on the size.
For you visual folks; the putter on the left has a bead, the putter on the right does not:
There are a lot of terms out there that players will use to describe the size of the bead on their putters, ranging from "micro bead" to "large bead." When it comes to the actual amount of plastic used to create these beads, it's honestly negligible. However, once you've handled a few putters that have a bead, there is a big difference in feel.
Below are a few examples of putters with varying sizes of bead:
Micro bead: Kastaplast Reko, Pilot
Small bead: Whale, Wizard
Large bead: Innova Aviar
In general, the larger the bead, the more overstable the putter behaves. Regardless of the bead size, many players find comfort and confidence in having that tactile contact with the lip on the bottom rim.
The bead can change the release point from your hand, therefore with some practice, you can figure out which type of putter works best for you.
Pros and Cons of Beads
With any disc in disc golf, there are pros and cons to all of the variables (different plastic blends, weight, color, etc). When it comes to beads on putters, the same discussion applies. They may not look very different, but they do perform quite differently.
Beads, in general, seem to make the putter more stable for longer. (Not to be confused with "overstable"- simply meaning to keep the disc more consistent for longer.) Just take it from Dave Dunipace, founder of Innova Discs. Here's the secret of the bead.
Pros of Beaded Putters:
Many disc golfers enjoy the feel of the bead, it can afford you a more comfortable grip as well as potentially improve your putting accuracy. The bead can act as a guide to improve your consistency.
Beaded discs will be more stable to overstable in general, which means you could work on your short-range game for shots that need a reliable fade. When it comes to putters, it's not always 100%, but the overstable-ish nature of a beaded disc golf putter means they can also be a great choice if you're facing windy conditions.
Read More: The 9 Best Discraft Putters
Cons of Beaded Putters:
Sometimes the bead can affect your release when putting and might give you a wobbly flight. Also, when snapping the disc, the bead can get potentially caught on your fingers, which is no fun.
If you're hoping for your disc to slide a bit upon contact with the ground, do note that a bead will get in the way of that as it will tend to catch leaves or debris on the course.
Pros of Beadless Putters:
Knowing when to use a beadless putter is half the battle. Typically, a beadless putter will serve you better for drives from the tee box.
Beadless putters tend to have more of a neutral flight path; especially on a day with calm weather conditions, you'll see a relatively straight flight. This disc golf flight numbers article explains flight numbers. The smooth bottom of the disc allows for a cleaner snap and feel on release.
If you're facing a shot that has a low ceiling and need your disc to slide, the lack of a bead on the bottom edge of the disc will allow you to do so more easily than a beaded putter.
Cons of Beadless Putters:
Beadless putters will act more understable, meaning if you crank on them too hard, they'll turn over to the right. It can be easy to overpower your beadless putter. Also, having less stability means on windy days, this putter probably won't achieve what you're hoping for.
Sidenote: It's also been acknowledged that beadless putters don't stick to the chains as well as a beaded putter does. Call it popular opinion; it's not backed by science. Your mileage may vary!
Get A Grip!
Here's a handy video with some tips on spin putting and push putting from David Feldberg:
There's also a combination of the two, called the "spush"... but that's for another day. It's a good idea to get comfortable with whatever style suits you best!
Using a beaded putter will offer you more control in the hand because there's a literal guide where your finger can be placed. Putts don't require you to really rip on the disc; rather, it's more of a "pop" motion.
If you do need to crank on a putter, or prefer wrapping your finger around the rim, a beadless disc will serve you better for a clean release, allowing the disc to spin for longer (and therefore getting that distance).
Whatever way you grip your putter, it has to be comfortable. Not too tight or too loose, and it's up to you where you place your index finger. Your putting style is yours alone, but one thing is for sure: if the disc doesn't feel good in your hand, it's going to get kicked out of your bag by another disc that does.
Q: Which beaded putters are the most popular?
A: Some of the more popular beaded putters are the Dynamic Discs Judge, Gateway Wizard, and Prodigy PA-3.
Q: Which beadless putters are the most popular?
Q: What are some popular plastics for a putter?
A: Base plastics are a popular choice for putters because they tend to offer good grip, are softer, and are affordable (with a bonus that they can be easily replaced.) That being said, it's largely up to personal preference. Some people prefer stiff and smooth premium plastic for cleaner releases.
Q: How many putters should I have?
A: For practice, it's a good idea to have several putters of the same mold that you like. On average, we'd say most disc golfers carry around 10 or more, even though you would be fine with less than half that number if you were just starting out.
With so many "In the Bag" videos, it's tempting to buy whatever your favorite pro is throwing! We'd advise going to your local disc golf store, picking up their putters in your hand, and seeing what feels good to you.
Comfort is the biggest consideration when it comes to putters. Choosing one is a personal decision- there's no right or wrong way to get your disc to the basket!
Looking for something besides a putter? Check out our most popular disc golf discs here.