Custom Fit Putters

by : James E Obrien

Shave Some Strokes off your Golf Score

No matter what your golf score, about 42% of all your strokes are taken with a putter. That is a sobering statistic. While golfers spend hours reading reviews and discussing the various aspects of the new high tech woods and irons, in some cases their putter was probably a gift or won at a golf outing. Many golfers choose a putter based on the intangible "feel". At best, the selection criteria probably wasn't remotely close to the effort expended selecting the remaining clubs.

If that sounds like you, you're not alone. If you are not using the right putter for your size and stroke, it is almost impossible to have a consistent and successful putting method. The right putter may be a great way to shave enough strokes off your game to break ninety
or at least have old Angus buy the rounds at the 19th hole.

The most important part of putter selection is shaft length. Stock putter lengths tend to be standard, which is great if you are of average height and average putting stance. If not, your putter's base is probably not lying perfectly flat on the ground, or you are adjusting your stance. A subtle change which can dramatically affect your stroke and, unfortunately, the results.

If the putter's toe is slightly off the ground, there is a tendency to pull the putt to the left. It stands to reason that if the heel of the putter is slightly elevated, the putt will move to the right. The angle of the shaft to the putter head perfectly flat on the green is sometimes called the lie angle.

The standard shaft length for putters is 35", but the overall length can range from 32" to 52". If you are taller or shorter than average, your lie angle is going to be wrong and you can absolutely count on missing two or three makeable putts every round. You start thinking you are a poor putter and lose some confidence, when actually you have the wrong putter. This problem is exacerbated as more and more golfers start using the pendulum stroke, which completely changes the shaft length.

Check your lie angle by standing in front of a full length mirror and getting into your putting stance as though you are putting into the mirror. Don't use a golf ball. Get into a completely and totally comfortable putting stance. Place your hands on the grip where it is most comfortable, not to make the putter lie flat. Then, look into the mirror. If the club head is not perfectly flat on the floor or rug, the shaft length and/or the lie angle is wrong and you need to go putter shopping. Make sure to determine the appropriate shaft length. If you can find a putter on line that you like with the correct shaft length, go for it. Otherwise, you need to consider a custom fitted golf putter.

Other important factors include club head design, putter face loft angle and the new putter inserts that are becoming quite popular.

The club head design is a matter of personal choice and comfort. The traditional blade putter are thin and usually carry the weight in both the heel and the toe. They have been around for years and they are what they are.

The mallet style putters have more weight in the club head and, most importantly, they are easier to align than the bladed putters.

The alignment putter is an improvement on the mallet putter and offers different alignment features that help putt the ball on the target line. Try them all out and choose the one that feels best in your hands.

Putter inserts are technology's contribution to putting the golf ball. While design and components vary, the purpose is to get the ball rolling smoothly towards the cup and reducing the dreaded skipping along the green putt.

It is also important to consider your putter's loft. You can change the loft of a putter, helpful on slow greens, by putting the ball off the front part of your foot. Loft requirements relate more to the type of green than a golfers individual preference. For example, Bermuda grass greens require a bit more loft than the more traditional bent grass. Check out the greens on your course before making a putter face loft decision.

Finally, consider the putter's weight, grip and the hosel (neck). The weight rule is simple. The slower the stroke, the heavier the putter. The grip should be comfortable and designed to reduce that old bugaboo, wrist movement. The hosel places the ball directly under or ahead of the shaft. The more the putter is offset, the more the hands will be in front of the golf ball when the putt is struck. The face balanced or center shafted putter, where the putter's shaft and hosel are more in the center, help the golfer who wants to keep the club face square with the ball throughout the swing. Use your finger to balance your putter. If the putter's face points up, it is face balanced.

Take some time to find the putter that is best for your game. All you can save are strokes.

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