Tom Tucker teaches all aspects of the golf game at The Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility in Batavia. His putter fitting tip comes just in time for the gift-giving season. Tom may be found online at http://www.TomTuckerGolf.com
I get a lot of questions about putter fitting, and here’s the first thing you
should know – you should have a firm idea of how you want to stroke putts before
you get fitted. If you don’t, take a putting lesson first before you dump money into
a putter that might not be optimal for your personal stroke preferences.
In other words get a putting stroke before you get a putter or get fitted for a putter.
Once you have an idea of your preferred technique, here’s a brief synopsis of how you
should be fitted. BTW, I’ll be doing putter fitting indoors over the winter at Plum Creek.
This might be the most important factor, because without the correct length for your
particular style, your wrist and elbow angles will be incorrect and will effect your
actual stroke. It also helps determine your posture. In the past, the industry
standard for length for male putters was a putter with a 35″ shaft, but more off the
rack options are available now.
Players that favor a straight back and straight through stroke would need a shorter
shaft than those that prefer an arcing stroke path.
I often recommend a longer shaft (not belly length) with a long (belly) grip, because
I teach an inside to down the line stroke for longer putts, and a straight back and through
stroke for very short putts. The longer grip accommodates different hand positions
for the different strokes.
The lie of the putter is determined by the correct length, posture, and eye positioning.
Lie angle is not as critical with putters as some may lead you to believe, but I do like the
putters to sit flat on the green at address. Robot testing shows that putts from 5 feet to
25 feet are not affected by different lie angles, even when extreme.
However, lie angle is more important for players using belly or broomstick length putters to prevent
fat hits. Yes, you can hit putts fat.
The average manufactured loft of a putter is 3.5 degrees, but actual playing loft varies
according to the players putting technique. Ball position, angle of attack, forward
press etc., all come into play.
Loft is needed to reduce the skid zone on a putt, which is the transition stage
from back to top spin, and is the most unstable period of the putt.
Phil Mickleson has putters that are identical except for different lofts for different
green conditions, some as low as one degree of loft. John Daly used to use a
putter with over seven degrees of loft when he used to employ an extreme forward
press with his stroke.
Many modern putters have grooves on the face these days, yet many major
manufacturers have not gotten on board. Limited research seems to indicate that
grooves can help a ball get into pure roll quicker, so I would be inclined to
be open minded towards them.
Unfortunately, there still are not a lot of manufacturers that offer a wide variety
of putter headweight options. Swingweight is not as important to a putter as total
weight, because it is the total weight that gives balance and feel.
This is where the variety of options is almost overwhelming. The main function of
the grip is comfort, but it also can influence the wrist action during the putting stroke.
Larger grips reduce wrist action, smaller grips enhance it.
The shape and style of a putter is extremely personal, but research has shown
that mallet heads are the most forgiving. The head style can also effect balance,
which should be fitted to the stroke. Face balanced putters work best with
a straight back and through stroke. Toe hang putters work best with an arcing stroke.
The player should bear in mind that really is no right and wrong in a putter, it’s
totally a matter of personal choice, and trial and error is not a bad idea for
choosing this particular club.
Enjoy your golf,