Tom Tucker teaches all aspects of the golf game at The Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility in Batavia. Tom may be found online at http://www.TomTuckerGolf.com
Before I present this tip, if you want to test your putting stroke preference
compatibility with various hosel styles and shaft placement options, please contact me
to set up an appointment. I have the three basic hosel styles available in a putter head,
with the ability to adjust the shaft placement from heel to mid to center. Call my cell
(716 474 3005) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details or to make an
appointment. It can be done indoors or outdoors, so weather conditions are not a
When I conduct a fundamental putting lesson, I cover setup, developing good
stroke mechanics, striking the ball directly down an intended aimline, touch
and feel drills, and a “high conversion” short putt technique.
During a productive putting lesson last week, I observed something that prompted
the topic for this tip.
This particular student was assimilating all of the information extremely well, and
when we got to the aimline test he struck six or seven putts perfectly through
the gate without touching either peg. I rarely have any student do that drill
as perfectly as that.
He brought two putters, but only used his old trusty Zebra mallet putter with a double
bend shaft for the lesson. His other putter made me drool – I have an absolute
weakness for cool looking putters. It was a more compact version of the putter
I have had in my bag for about a month. His was a Ping 1/2 Wack-E, center shafted
with a straight shaft. Really a sweet looking putter, I’m still coveting it even though
I know it won’t work with my stroke. My current putter a Ping Wack-E with a larger
head and a double bend shaft.
I really wanted to see him stroke that putter, so after his lesson was done I set him
up at the aimline station to see if he could match his performance with the Zebra putter.
He couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with that putter, and his misses were mostly to
the right. It then made sense to me why he was so successful with the Zebra, and
this may help some of you that are struggling with getting the ball started straight
down your intended aimline consistently.
The hosel style and shaft placement on his Ping putter were incompatible with his
natural putting stroke preferences, and the Zebra was perfect.
Here’s an explanation of how the hosel type and shaft placement on your putter head
influences your putting.
THE HOSEL STYLE INFLUENCES THE FACE AT IMPACT
Here are the three basic hosel styles:
Plumber’s Neck Hosel (sometimes called a Gooseneck Hosel)
There are a few more esoteric hosel styles, but the three above are the most common.
If you tend to push your putts to the right, you are most likely leaving the face
open at impact. Offset hosels (plumber’s neck) tend to close the clubface. The more
the offset, the greater the effect.You would be a candidate for a plumber’s neck hosel
or a putter with a double bend shaft, which provides the same offset effect.
If you tend to pull your putts, a straight hosel will work best for you.
If you are square at impact, a slanted hosel would be best.
I’m a bag snooper. That means when I observe a good player I pay close attention
to their equipment choices. In person as well as on TV.
As a bag snooper, I’ve observed a correlation between the iron types a person uses
and their putter hosel as follows: players that prefer offset in their iron heads tend
to use putters with an offset hosel or double bend shaft.
My observations have also shown that players that play blades with no offset do
not use a putter with an offset hosel, and usually use a straight shaft.
Once in awhile I’ve seen players playing blades using a putter with an offset
hosel, but rarely have I seen a player playing offset irons using putters without
a plumber’s neck hosel or a double bend shaft.
And yes, some touring pros do play offset irons.
THE SHAFT POSITIONING IN THE HEAD INFLUENCES STROKE PATH
Players who prefer a straight back and through putting stroke perform optimally
with a center shafted putter and a face balanced head.
Players who prefer a pronounced arc putting stroke perform optimally with
heel shafted putter and a full toe hang balanced putter head.
Players who prefer a slightly arcing putting stroke perform optimally with
mid shafted (between heel and center shafted) putter and mid hang balanced putter head.
Can players putt well with less than optimal equipment?
I would say that over time, a player could learn to compensate and putt reasonably
well, but probably not to the level that they could with the equipment that fits their
natural stroke preferences.
Either by sophisticated testing or by trial and error, most really great putters eventually
gravitate to a putter hosel and shaft combination that’s optimal for them.
And don’t think that there’s not plenty of trial and error going on at the top levels of
the game. Even with all the sophistication available to top level pros, many of them
still do things the old fashioned way – trial and error.
Just like your run of the mill golf junkie – kind of gives you a warm fuzzy feeling doesn’t it :-).
Enjoy your golf,