Putter Fitting

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Editor's Note: Bruce Martin is a PGA Master Professional with the San Diego Golf Academy. SDGAs program offers a curriculum of golf instruction and golf business management at all four golf schools, and provides graduates with the education required to get the golf job they desire. You'll soon be teaching others how to improve their game! Click here to learn more about SDGA
 

Putting comprises of approximately 35 to 45+ % of the total strokes for the majority of golfers, including PGA Tour Professionals. Considering that at least one third of all strokes are made with the flat stick, one must surmise of the major importance of a properly fit putter. Many amateurs neglect practicing and being properly fit with this part of their game. PGA Tour Professionals work very hard on their putting, and who wins or loses will be separated by their putting abilities most of the time.
 


 
Fitting for proper putter length:
 

Top fitting parameters will be for the golfer to have his eyes over the ball and have the shaft in-line with the underside of his/her forearms. Considerations for any physical limitations should be given to the lower back. Raymond Floyd is a good example of a player that needed a longer putter to accommodate for this common golfer injury.
 
Putters are typically designed from the manufacturer to fit in the standard size golf bag which is 35-36 inches tall. Most 34-36 inch putters are too long for the average golfer. The player may sacrifice aim/alignment and path problems as a result of ill fit putter length issues. Most manufacturers do not adjust the head weight (heavier) to allow for shorter putter lengths. Ex: many putters that have been cut down to 32-33 may have a swing weight in the C category. As a result, the player may not be able to feel the club head weight and his/her path may wander offline frequently. Additionally, this same golfer may have difficulty on slow greens.
 

Examples of incorrect putter length:
 

Too long with eye line inside of the ball:

 

 
Too short with eye line outside of ball:

 

 

Both of these length problems will negatively effect proper alignment and putting mechanics.

Fitting for lie angles:
 
Most manufactures design their putters between 69 and 72 degree lie angles. Most putters that are too long will produce a toe up address position. This golfer will experience alignment and path issues with incorrect lie angles. If the sole of the putter is either toe up or heal up (which is a rarity except for long putters), I would highly recommend that you have your club fitting specialist that is equipped with a Mitchell putter bending machine adjust the lie angle properly.
 


 
Fitting for loft:
 

Most manufactures design their putters with 2 to 4 degrees of loft. Fitting a student for the proper loft is very important. The fitter must take into account the players preference in regards to the amount of forward press that a student may have in the address position and any pre-shot routine whereby the forward press initiates the stroke = putting trigger.
Dynamic loft can be analyzed to determine the recommended static loft. I see great putters like Tiger Woods keep the shaft virtually vertical at address with the butt end pointing at his belly button, and release the putter on the follow through keeping the same relationship = butt end at belly button. Amateurs will have a tendency to break down their wrists or block the follow through, this will alter the dynamic loft at impact.
 
This is my setup position that Todd Sones and I have worked on. I used to require 5-6 degrees of loft. With Todds help, the shaft is more vertical requiring only 2-3 degrees of loft, and as a result, rolling the rock much better.