What Is the 'Flat Stick' in Golf?

"Flat stick," often spelled as one word ("flatstick") is a very commonly used slang term in golf. What is the flat stick? It's the putter.

Flatstick is just another term for the putter. And it's a term that is used throughout the golf world, both by weekend hackers and PGA Tour pros playing the weekend alike.

Why is the putter also called the flat stick? Because a putter's clubface appears to be flat, perfectly vertical. Most putters appear, to the naked eye at address, to have zero loft. But most putters actually do, in fact, have a few degrees of loft — three to four degrees of loft is most common. But that low amount of loft, especially compared to the other clubs in a golfer's bag, make the face of the putter look flat.

The term "flat stick" has been around for a long time. George Low Jr. was a pro golfer who played on the PGA Tour beginning in the 1930s. He became more famous, though, as a designer of putters and a putting teacher (he was Arnold Palmer's putting guru in the 1950s). Low, considered one of the greatest putters of all-time, was nicknamed "The Wizard of the Flat Stick."

Golf instructors also use the term. The instructor Michael Breed, in his book The 3-Degree Putting Solution (book titles in this article are affiliate links, commissions earned), referred to Billy Casper and Bobby Locke as "two of the best flatstick artists ever to play the game."

In the Golf All-in-One For Dummies book, the authors state that "your flatstick is really only as great as you think it is," and point out that "when they miss, the flatstick masters always have a readymade, ego-protecting reason."

The authors of the book Golf Etiquette put it another way: "It's the violinist, not the violin, that determines success with the flat stick."

The term has been used in book titles, such as the 2006 book The Flat Stick: The History, Romance, and Heartbreak of the Putter, by author Noah Lieberman.

More golf slang:

Bohn, Michael K. Money Golf: 600 Years of Bettin' on Birdies, 2007, Potomac Books Inc.
Chabut, LaReine. Golf All-in-One for Dummies, 2012, Consumer Dummies.
Pedroli, Hubert, and Tiegreen, Mary. Let the Big Dog Eat!, William Morrow Publisher, 2000
Puett, Barbara, and Apfelbaum, Jim. Golf Etiquette, 2003, Macmillan.

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