Bump and Run The Best Putter for You

By David AllenNovember 12, 2009, 8:50 pm
We know it's difficult to find time to practice during the week. When a Saturday or Sunday tee time rolls around, you're hoping to find some spark or productive swing thought that will help you break 100, 90, 80 or whatever your scoring goal may be.
With the weekend warrior in mind we created Bump and Run, a weekly Q&A with some of the game's top instructors. Each Friday, a teaching professional will occupy this space and answer questions directed at improving your game. This week it's Todd Sones, owner of Coutour Golf and one of Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers in America.
Todd Sones headshot TODD SONES
Owner, Coutour Golf; teaching professional, White Deer Run Golf Club, Vernon Hills, Ill., Indoor Golf Nation, Paladine, Ill.


- Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers in America
- Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers in America
- 1994, '96 Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year
- 2003 Horton Smith Award winner

Students (past and present)
Paul Goydos, Steve Jones, Chip Beck, Hilary Lunke

Web Site:
coutourgolf.com; www.toddsones.com


Sones, the author of two books, including 'Lights Out Putting,' patented the Tri-Fit Method of fitting putters in 2003 and has taken the art of custom-fitting putters to a new level with Coutour Golf.

'You have one club in your bag that is responsible for almost half of your score,' said Sones. 'That's why it's the most important club in your bag. Everybody is getting fit for their irons and now their driver, but they only make up 60 percent of their score. If you’re going to get anything fit, make it your putter.'

To submit a question to Sones or one of our teachers, please e-mail bumpandrun@thegolfchannel.com and check back every Friday to see if your question got answered. 

What is the most common fitting mistake you see with putters today?

Two things. Incorrect length, which affects ultimately the distance you stand from the ball, your posture (relationship to the ball), and your arms in relation to your body. Those are three really important things because if your putter is too long, you’re either going to stand too far from the ball, or you’re going to have your arms jammed up into your body. If the putter is too short, you’re either going to bend over past the ball or have your arms stretched out, because you’re reaching down, and disconnected. If you can get the right length putter then you can lock in your setup every time.

I would also have to say swingweight. People get confused by swingweight because it’s hard to explain a feel, and that’s what swingweight is. It’s the feel of the putterhead as it goes back and forth. If a player doesn’t feel the clubhead, it affects his distance control because he can’t really develop good rhythm or balance during the stroke.

Do amateurs typically play with putters that are too short or too long?

It's really hard to say, because it depends on the individual’s height and body type. You might have two guys who are the same height – one who’s all legs and the other who’s all body – but the guy who's got long arms and a long torso is going to use a shorter putter. Length really does make a difference, but it’s got to be right for your body type. What we have found in our fittings is that guys who are typically 6-foot-3 to 6-5 need something in the 36-inch category; guys that are 6-1, 6-2 need a 35-inch putter, guys who are 6 foot, 34 inches, 5-9, 33 inches, and so on.

If you don’t know if your putter fits you, or is the proper length, is there a way to check?

It’s like trying to fit yourself to eye glasses – you’re not going to be very successful at it on your own. At coutourgolf.com, we have a fitting form where you can plug in your height and your knuckles to ground measurement (arm length in relation to ground), and it will tell you what length putter fits you based on this information. It will tell you what length putter and swingweight fits you based on your height and arm length.

What length putt gives amateurs the most trouble and why?

l think you have to look at both short putts and lag putts. From 10 feet out, most amateurs have no real expectation of making the putt so direction is not that important, and from 20 feet, even if they mishit it, they’ll probably be okay.

Tiger Woods releases the putterhead through impact
Tiger Woods and all good putters allow the putter to swing itself; they don't force the speed.
Poor fundamentals show up most on short putts because they can’t make a 4-footer if they have the putterhead coming in from the outside with the face open; they don’t have enough time to recover whereas with the longer stroke, they can. Once they get past 20 feet to the longer putts – let’s say, 30 to 50 feet –  they’ll struggle because they don’t put a good enough roll on the ball to control their speed.

Where putting is made or broken is how good is your speed control in lag putting, how close do you get that first one, and how well do you convert from 3- to 5-foot range? That’s where your mechanics really show.

Is there a drill you'd recommend for short putts, long putts, or both?

I'd recommend you practice both: Hit your long putt first, then try and convert the short one.

Most golfers have what I like to refer to as a signature backstroke. They take the club back the same distance for almost all putts. Let’s say it’s 12 inches – if they take it back 12 inches on a 4-foot putt their brain starts screaming, “Slow down!” If they take it back 12 inches on a 40-foot putt their brain screams, “Speed up!” Ultimately, what you really want to learn is what length backstroke is right for each putt. If you’ve got a 4-foot putt you should really have a backstroke of 6 inches. (Normal green speed, stimped at 10). If you’ve got a 40-foot putt you really need a backstroke that’s somewhere around 15 inches, so you’re allowing the putterhead to create its own momentum.

Think about a pendulum: A pendulum you swing way back and the distance it travels determines how fast it moves forward. If you swung it 6 inches it would swing slower than if you swung it 15 inches. What happens with most people is they’re controlling the putter’s speed versus letting it swing by itself. If you look at the best putters, they have a constant rate of acceleration and an equal back and through motion.

What makes Tiger Woods such a terrific lag putter? Seems like every time he has a putt of 30 feet or more, the ball grazes the hole or finishes a foot away.

No. 1, he puts a great roll on the ball, and that’s because his mechanics are very solid. The face of his putter is squaring to the path at impact, not cutting against it, and he has that constant acceleration. He never looks like he’s holding the putter back or accelerating it; it looks like the putter accelerates itself. And finally, he practices long, breaking putts. You’ve got to hit it solid to be close to the hole from long range.

Tiger talks about releasing the putterhead. Is that a good thought for amateurs?

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That’s a word that describes a specific feel for a very good player. It goes back to the pendulum: if you keep your center (head and sternum) still and you let the weight of the putter go past your center, that’s releasing the putter. I don’t think it’s flipping the putter or necessarily closing the face; it just has to do with simply letting the putter go past your center.

Any advice for the weekend golfer? Something that might help them drop a stroke or two over the weekend?

I'd say this: We have 10 people come through our short game school regularly, and I think 70 percent have the wrong putter; it’s not the right specifications for them. So they’re never going to get better. It’s like glasses: You won’t see clearly until you have the right specs.

Stop wasting your time with band-aids and quick fixes that don’t do anything. Get to the heart of the problem, and get fitted for a putter through instruction. A better setup with a fit putter will develop a good putting stroke.
Getty Images

Watch: Tiger highlights from Round 2 at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 23, 2018, 8:12 pm

Tiger Woods started at even par in Round 2 of the Honda Classic. Friday began with a bogey at the par-4 second, but Woods got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:

Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.

At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National.

Getty Images

Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:14 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.

Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.

It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.  

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

“I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”

After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.

Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.

“It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”

Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”  

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Getty Images

Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role

By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2018, 6:57 pm

In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.

Made Cut

Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.

Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.

“What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”

Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.

#MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.

Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.

Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.

Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.

“I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told PGATour.com. “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”

The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.

During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.

“Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”

The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Web.com Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.

Stay tuned.

Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.

The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.

On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.

That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.

Missed Cut

West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.

J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.

Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.

But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.

Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”

It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.