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Selecting/Fitting Your Putter
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy

Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at askme@thewedgeguy.com.

I've been on the topic of golf club mechanics and club fitting lately, and thought we would close this series with a question from Stephen J., who asked about selecting a putter. I thought it might be fun to dive into this topic and let everyone chime in with your own experience and observation. Specifically, Stephen wrote:
"You have been talking a lot lately about tweaking clubs and it all makes good sense. Can I get you to extend that discussion to putters? I am contemplating buying a new putter, but I am not sure why because I find my current putter OK. I suppose I am wondering if the advances in technology have impacted on putters as much as other clubs and what to look for when buying a putter and getting it set up right for me."
Well, Stephen, to begin with, if the one you have is working OK, examine what you are hoping to gain with a purchase. If you feel like you have room for improvement, then maybe a new putter can be part of that solution. What really amazes me as I observe golfers is how many are using putters that just don't fit them at all, but then some of those same guys seem to make everything. One of the better players at our club uses an Odyssey Two Ball putter with a lie so overly upright for his putting style, the toe is a half inch in the air at address. But he's one of the best clutch putters I've ever seen! Makes you go "hmmmmmmm."

All other things aside, however, a putter that fits your set up and stroke style greatly enhances your chances of consistency and effectiveness. There are two aspects of putter selection and fitting, in my opinion, that the process should be built around. The first is the style of putter head.

One of the great developments in putter design, to me, is the face-balanced concept. This means the putter head is balanced around the centerline of the shaft, so that the face “wants” to be square to the direction the shaft is moving. It really got started with the first Zebra, then took off after the development of the original Pelz “three ball” putter. Almost all of the big mallet designs are balanced this way, and those “conventional” looking putters with longer hosels, too. To see if a putter is “face-balanced”, simply lay it across your fingers – if the face points straight up, then it’s face balanced. The face is designed to be square to the direction of the shaft force. It takes away any effort you must make to square the face during the stroke. All you have to do is have the stroke online.

The other key aspect of putter selection is to be sure the shaft length and lie angle makes the putter fits your address position and stroke. The industry has made 35” the standard putter length and lie angle forever, it seems, but most tour players are using putters shorter than that. What they are trying to achieve is the ability to allow the arms to hang from the shoulders rather naturally, with only a slight break, and to have the putter soled flat on the ground. This often requires the putter loft to be adjusted flatter as well. If the toe is sticking up in the air, as you see with most amateur players and a surprising number of pros, the loft of the putter is making it point left. So, you have to have a bias in your stroke to make up for that. Sheesh. Isn’t this hard enough already?

Finally, one of the newer developments in putter-fitting is the ability for the sophisticated systems to correct your natural visual bias with the right combination of offset and other fitting criteria. Using lasers, the fitter can determine whether your visual orientation causes you to aim right or left of the target. Almost all of us have a bias, and it’s in part caused by the putter. And this can be corrected through fitting.

So, if you are going to invest heavily in a new putter, I’d sure recommend exploring the fitting possibilities and taking advantage of the science available. After all, that’s the club with which you will hit the most shots in a round of golf, so it makes sense it should be the one, if any, which fits you the best. Right?


* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.


photo source
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
Penny says:
As a lady golfer I was recommended to get a 33" putter as I am 5' 6" tall. I agreed with the advice as my putter was either too upright to get the head straight or too at an angle with the toe pointing upwards if I tilted the shaft as it is supposed to be tilted. So I did actually then go out and buy a 33" putter to rectify this.

My confusion lies in that I was also advised that if you cut the shaft you should increase the wieght of the putter head to compensate, as otherwise the putter will become too light - it is true that the putter feels a lot lighter and the head is the same as the 35" one I owned. However, the drawback is that manufactures don't change the putter heads, except this one company (won't mention the name) who have patented this technology. Does this really matter is my question? Can we just not get used to using a lighter putter? With all the advice around I guess I am a little confused so any feedback would be welcomed.
8/24/10
 
robertbraybrook says:
I recently had a putter fitting session with Callaway. I constantly left shots short and pushed to the right. The 1st part of the session was to correct my stance and alignment which improved things considerably. The next was to assess my current blade putter, i.e. style, length, lie etc. the main problem being the shaft was too long, it casued back spin which left the shot short. During the process I tried a number of different putter styles. In the end a mallet type putter was more suitable for me. The shaft on the new putter is smaller, the lie being standard. The new putter is an Odeysey Black series 1x-7. It is fantastic looking, giving greater confidence. It is a very recent purchase, but practising, more putts are on line and at long last going past the hole if not going in. My verdict. What is the most valuable club in your bag and which one are you likely to use the most during a round. If your woods and irons are custom fit, then the putter is a must too. The experience is well worth the investment.
8/27/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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