Is your Putter Preventing you from Being a Good Putter
As club fitting has become more and more prevalent over the last several years, the area that the average golfer has taken the least advantage of is putter fitting. Primarily because of a lack of fitting systems and a lack of knowledge of the effects of a poor fitting putter, most players have to adapt their putting strokes to their putter rather than creating an efficient stroke.
The most efficient and simplest putting stroke is one in which the putter works along a natural arc created by the lie of the putter and the posture of the golfer. To create this type of stroke, the golfer needs to be in the correct set-up position. The correct set-up is one in which the golfer is bending the upper body from his hips so that his eyes are positioned parallel to the target line. In this position, the golfer’s forearms and the shaft of the putter should be in a straight line with the elbows and upper arms connected to the sides. The golfer should then be able to place his hands on the handle of the putter with the head of the putter resting flat on the ground. This position gives the golfer the ability to create an efficient stroke.
There are four factors that need to be address in fitting a putter. They are the putter’s length, the lie angle, the loft, and the amount of offset.
The first factor that needs to be addressed is the length. In my teaching I find that a least 80% of people are playing with putters that are not the correct length for them. When the putter is too long there are two things that typically occur. The player will grip the club so that his forearms and the shaft of the putter are not in line or the player will be positioned too far away from the golf ball and the putter will not be sitting flat on the ground. This leads to misalignment and to a non-arching type stroke. A putter’s length can be easily be changed by removing the grip and cutting or adding length to the shaft to achieve the proper length.
The second factor that needs to be considered is the lie angle of the putter. The lie angle is the angle created by the shaft, relative to the ground, when the sole of the head of the putter is sitting flat on the ground at address. If the sole of the club is not resting flat on the ground at address, it is difficult to aim the putter correctly and to hit the ball consistently in the center of the clubface. Again, the lie of most putters can easily be changed, using a loft and lie machine.
The final two factors, loft and offset, are interrelated. The loft being the angle of pitch on the face of the club and offset being the amount the face of the putter is set back from the shaft of the club. The loft and offset affect the roll of the golf ball and, most importantly, how the player aims the face of the putter.
When a putt is struck, ideally, the ball starts to roll as soon a possible. The ball skids for a short distance and then will start rolling. The less the ball skids, the sooner it starts to roll. If the putter has too much loft the ball will become airborne and will have a tendency to hop. If the putter has too little loft, the ball will skid too much.
The combination of loft and offset’s effect on aim has to do with how an individual’s eyes function. The way a person’s eyes work together influence how he sees the face of the putter relative to the target line at address. If a person tends to aim left he should have a putter with less loft and or offset. A putter with more loft and offset will help a person whose tendency is to aim too much to the right.
While the offset of a preexisting putter cannot typically be changed, the loft of the putter is normally very easily to change using a loft and lie machine.
When you consider that putting accounts for 30-50% of a golfer’s score having a putter that allows the player to make a more efficient stroke is an easy solution to lowering scores. Having your next putter fit, or your present putter modified, is a simple solution to better golf.