Putter Fitting 101

I’ve talked about falling in love with putting and, in my experience, that starts with loving your putter – having something that, when you pull it out of the bag, you trust it to stroke the ball where you want it to go.

As we are all different physiologically it stands to reason that our putter – as the club with which we require the most accuracy – should fit us the best. Yet there are very few places where you can go and get a putter professionally fitted.

I fitted my first one myself almost 20 years ago now and I still have it and use it – and although I discovered much later that it is not the best putter for me I still like the head and the alignment marks on it. These days, because of the type of stroke I have, it isn’t my regular gamer… but more on that later!

My putting originally I could best describe as “streaky”….. on a good day I could putt with the best but on a bad day……

It was after a particularly bad day when I’d missed half a dozen putts of around 3 feet long that I decided enough was enough. I went through all the golf instruction manuals I had to determine what were the basics that were common to all the different authors.

That list turned out to be very short – three items to be exact!

The first was that the stroke must be controlled by the bigger muscle groups, particularly the shoulders, to allow control and ease of repetition

Next was that at address the shoulder line and clubface both needed to line up to the target

Finally your eye-line had to be as close to vertically over the ball as possible.

Out came the putting mat back at the house and I started hitting putts not worrying about holing them but trying to analyse what I was doing.

I started to realise that I just didn’t feel comfortable over the ball and that, if I wanted to hit a shorter putt; i.e. hit it softer; that my right hand would take over and close the clubface a fraction as I came through. Further analysis led me to realise a big part of the problem was that I was not turning my shoulders to make the putting stroke but just moving my arms.

Realising that I needed to get the physical fixes right first I put my putter down and set about getting myself into a position that should allow me to make the best stroke possible.

Initially all I tried to do was find what I felt was the most comfortable set up for me to make a putting stroke, setting up without a club and just getting comfortable.

The next thing was to bring the bigger muscle groups in. The best way I found to ensure I was turning my shoulders and not just moving my arms was to set myself up in my new putting stance and hold a club between my upper arms and my chest. It’s impossible to move your arms when they are busy holding the club against your chest so the only thing that can move is the shoulders. When I was happy that I could repeat that move I went on to the next issue.

Shoulders in line. I discovered that I was setting up with my shoulders pointing left of the target (I play right handed). However I discovered that the more open my hands were the easier it was to line up the shoulders. The moment I put my hands on a standard thickness putter grip I could immediately feel that as as I closed my hands over it my shoulder alignment moved left. Eventually I ended up wrapping a hand towel around my putter grip to increase its thickness which then allowed me to grip the putter while keeping my shoulders square.

The final thing to do was eyes over the ball so I set myself up in my now upgraded putting stance, again without the putter, took a golf ball which I held between my eyes and dropped to the floor. I noted where it landed knowing that the point at which it hit the ground was directly under my eyes.

I repeated this set up process again, this time with my putter within easy reach. Once I had established my comfortable set up, hand position and alignment I then picked up my putter ….. and discovered immediately that the length and lie angle of my putter would not allow me to place the putter head under my eyes.

Two inches off the shaft, a lie angle bent down (eventually with judicious use of a blow torch….!) by about 5 degrees and the thickest putter grip I could find before the era of the Super Stroke grips and all of a sudden I had a putter that I had confidence in – and my number of putts per round started to come down.

You may be fortunate that, when you check your set up and alignment that your current putter is dead right – but I think you will be one in ten if that is the case!

Don’t be afraid! Having a putter in the bag that you know is right for you will give you the best results – and when you get to the stage that you actually start to look forward to putting that club has the potential to take more strokes off your score than any other in the bag!

There’ll be more on my putting saga later!

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