Putter fitting is not just for professional golfers.
Putter Fitting is a no-brainer. Putting with an off-the-rack putter is like competing in the high jump from a ditch. You first step to better putting is to get on a level playing field.
You can improve your putting stats by having your putter adjusted to match your build and putting stroke.
The objective in putter fitting is to establish the best combination of the variables shown above.
There are two options:
Off-the-shelf putters are not designed for optimal putting as they are built on the mass production principle of one-size fits all. It is possible to putt the ball straight with an ill-suited putter, but the odds are stacked against you when it comes to consistency.
There are two forms of Putter Fitting systems:
Putter fitting will not correct
a poor setup and stroke.
It will only make it "less bad".
For most amateurs the simple level is adequate for the amount of golf they play.
The two most common adjustments in putter fitting will normally be the length and lie angle of your putter. They should be decided jointly in order to get both the correct posture, and eye position.
Most golfers could benefit from putter fitting. This is because they (especially women) are using putters that are too long for them and this contributes to their poor putting.
With the correct length you can stand to the ball with the proper setup.
The club fitter will establish the correct length for your putter based on your height and arm length. When your hands are centred on the grip, there should be only one inch of the grip visible above your hands.
A typical method is to use a putter with an adjustable sliding shaft calibrated in inch measurements.
Increasing or decreasing the shaft length changes the arc of the putter path and the way the putter head rests on the ground.
A putter that is too long or too short can cause an error in your stroke path that leads to inaccuracy.
You will stand further from the ball and your eyes will be well inside the ball. The plane of your putter path will be flatter and the toe of your putter will be off the ground pushing your aim to the left.
To accommodate the extra length you will have to cramp up your elbows to close to your body rather than let your arms hang naturally under your shoulders.
You will stand closer to the ball and your eyes will be beyond the ball. The plane of your putter path will be more upright as your putter shaft will be more upright. The heel of your putter will tend to lift off the ground causing it to aim to the right.
A putter that is too short for you will cause you to crouch over putting added pressure on your back. It will restrict the smoothness of your stroke.
The lie angle is the angle formed by the shaft and sole of the putter head when the putter is held in a neutral position at address.
If the toe of the putter is sticking up in the air, you could pull the ball slightly to the left. Conversely, if the toe of the putter is down and the heel is up in the air, you could push the ball slightly to the right.
An incorrect lie angle could also cause a slightly less solid contact and poor energy transfer will make distance control more difficult.
The standard lie angle for most off-the-shelf putters is between 70 and 72 degrees.
Some manufacturers advertise lie angle as the offset from 90 degrees, for example 19 degrees. The minimum offset allowable by the Rules of Golf is 10 degrees.
The most important aspect of the lie angle is that it promotes good posture and eye position over the ball.
The length of your putter and the corresponding lie angle are related. The longer the shaft, the flatter the lie angle should be. The shorter the shaft the more upright the lie angle should be.
The club fitter, after altering your putter length, will change the lie angle of your putter by bending the hosel or shaft so that the putter head is correctly soled.
Bear in mind that the lie angle of an existing putter is more difficult to alter when the shaft is inserted directly into the putter head without any hosel or shaft bend.
The loft of a putter is the angle formed by the putterface and a level surface when the putter is held in a neutral position at address. It is measured in degrees.
You need some loft to lift your ball out of the shallow depression caused by the ball’s weight and on to the top of the grass for a truer roll.
Too much loft can jeopardise distance and directional control as the ball will tend to bounce after impact. With too little loft you will compress the ball into the turf with the same undesirable effects.
The standard built-in loft of most putters is two to four degrees based on the mowing height of modern greens. The rule of thumb is that for slow greens you need more loft, and for fast greens you need less loft.
The way you set up and then putt can alter the dynamic loft of your putter. For example, when you position your hands well forward of your ball or forward press at the start of your stroke, you effectively decrease your putter’s loft.
Even a variation in ball position can change the dynamic loft at impact.
My preference is not to mess with the loft during putter fitting, but concentrate more on achieving a more neutral hand position.
However, if you need to use a forward press to trigger your backstroke, the club fitter may decide to adjust your putter so that the loft at impact remains within the parameters of two to four degrees.
The grip is the only connection that your hands will have with your putter. If your putter length needs to be adjusted, it is a good time to consider the type of grip you prefer, and have the club fitter fit it for you during the putter fitting session.
Conventional thinking equates thin grips with a wristy stroke with the shaft placed in your fingers. Fatter grips put the shaft more in the lifelines of your hands, giving you a steadier hold on your putter as well as promoting a shoulders-and-arms pendulum-like stroke. They help to prevent your wrists from breaking down during your stroke.
Off-the-shelf putters use a standard paddle rubber grip of about 11 inches with a flat front flange so that you can place both your thumbs on top of the shaft one under the other. If the grip has been properly fitted, the flat part should be 90 degrees to the putterface.
I prefer an oversize grip as it allows me to place both thumbs on the shaft side by side. This balances my hands on the putter and levels my shoulders.
There is one small disadvantage of an oversize grip in that your putter may not fit into putter tube on your golf bag.
There is no standard head weight for a putter.
It can be anything nowadays. The relationship between the length, the head weight, and the overall weight of the putter varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and by model.
Most mass-produced putter heads are weighted for a standard off-the-shelf 35-inch putter and weigh around 330 to 350 grams.
In theory the head weight should change to keep the same relationship of head weight to grip weight when you either shorten or lengthen the putter.
There is a school of thought that you should use a heavy putter to putt on slow greens and a light putter to putt on fast greens. There are some putters on the market with adjustable head weights, but to me this is just an added complication.
Shortening the shaft stiffens it and changes the overall weight of the putter, but I have found that the change in feel is not that great.
It is far more important that your putter has the right length and lie angle for you, otherwise you are never going to putt consistently.
If you are not 100% satisfied with the balance of your altered putter, the club fitter can change the balance point to suit you by either adjusting the weight under the grip or by applying lead tape to the putter head.
Custom fitting is not just for your driver, fairway woods and irons. The club you use most is your putter and it is one of your main scoring clubs.
Proper putter fitting will allow you to putt with more confidence and get better results.
To view a video clip of Todd Sones explaining the importance of Putter Fitting CLICK HERE