One positive thing that has come from the crazy times amidst our world’s battles with COVID is that more people are either being introduced to, or coming back to, this beloved game of ours. Within that has also been some interesting trends to watch. Yes, sales are through the roof right now and that has created a whole litany of supply issues (which we discussed here), but it has also lead to a surge in fitting.
Proper fitting is something we have talked about at length for years here at THP, and we adamantly believe that it can help golfers of any level. As time has passed, the expansion of top tier fitting locations like Club Champion have made it easier than ever to find a place to get a thorough fitting, and that accessibility is a driving force behind the boom. However, the overwhelming focus continues to heavily be from tee to the green, but what about on the green?
Why a Putter Fitting?
I don’t want to say that putter fitting is an afterthought as that does come off a bit harsh, but it definitely doesn’t get the attention which it deserves. Why is that? Well, golfers are fickle, particularly golfers who believe they are good at something, or perhaps more apropos would be many are stuck in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset.
Well, when it comes to putting, I can tell you why. As someone who has gone through multiple putter fittings over the years (the most recent documented here) I can say with absolute certainty a putter fitting doesn’t have to mean changing your stroke, it means making it more efficient, and thus you more effective on the greens.
Look, I get it, golfers are quirky, and interestingly when it comes to putting, we are even more so than normal. Whether it is a fear of change via potential cost, not wanting to change what has always been the same, or just fear of ending up with something that doesn’t fit our eye, a great deal of golfers tend to shy away from the idea of a putter fitting.
A message that I personally feel fitters like Club Champion present exceptionally well, is they convey to the person in the fitting that even if you don’t want to change your putter or your putting stroke, you can always improve your performance with what you have. Thanks to devices like the SAM Putt Lab, top tier fitters can show you how important the things we take for granted in an off the rack putter are, and how they impact performance. Think of it this way, the exact same things that impact your performance in the rest of the bag play a significant role here too, maybe more so, where millimeter misses amount to another addition on the scorecard.
Take for example something as simple as length. We know that length dictates posture which can free up a putting stroke and even make the line more visible to the golfer, therefore impacting your performance. Interestingly, this is one of those aspects which so many of us “self-fit” for comfort, and while there is merit to that, what isn’t considered is how it can exacerbate things that will then accentuate misses no matter how consistent your stroke.
Look no further than lie angle for an understanding of how something small, which doesn’t change your stroke, can make a world of difference. All of us have seen (or are guilty of being) golfers with the toe way up in the air through the stroke, well that upright toe can lead to a left miss and something as simple as adjusting the lie angle flat (just as is done with irons) will allow hand position to remain the same in the stroke while now being able to properly sole the putter for more consistency. Of course, I know some are thinking “well, I see pros on TV all the time with their toe up in the air”, and while that is true, they also practice putting for a living and are the exception to the rule, goodness knows we amateurs need all the help we can get.
Similarly, too much loft through your stroke could lead to a roll which skips and hops its way to becoming the picture of inconsistency when it comes to pace on the greens. Yes, you can go buy a putter with the newest groove or insert technology to help with roll, but fitting is still critical to optimizing performance. You see, the uniqueness of the putting stroke means we all hit up, or down, on the ball differently, and a fitting utilizing things like SAM Putt Lab let you see your own specific putting framework. On a personal level, my last fitting showed I have a very positive Angle of Attack (AoA) into the ball through the stroke but also extremely consistent, that lead to some significant skidding at a “standard” 3° of loft. However, when taken down to 0.5° we found a pure roll that meant I no longer had to work for distance off the putter. It matters.
You want your mind really blown? Length, loft, and lie also add up to impact our ability as golfers to produce a consistent face angle through the stroke. Various studies have been done to show that over 90% of putt direction comes from face angle. Going even deeper, to make a putt from 8 feet your face angle has to be less than 1° open/closed, from 15 feet that becomes less than 0.5°. This doesn’t even consider things like break, so why would you want to eyeball something like how a putter fits you?
Look, we all know those golfers who putt the eyes out of everything, they’ve used the same putter forever and never had a fitting for it in their lives. They are the exception to the rule just like PGA Tour players. We, however, are mere mortals, and with that we are inconsistent.
What is the best way to battle inconsistency in putting? Eliminate the variables.
How do we eliminate the variables? Well, practice does indeed help, but so too does a thorough analysis of how a putter fits you. By going to work with a qualified fitter, you can give yourself a chance on the greens that doesn’t just hinge around being “hot” or “cold”, it is about being consistent.
Plus, a putter fitting doesn’t mean you need to go buy a new putter. Though some shapes or alignment setups may work better than others for you, when it comes to a putter fitting you can still dial in the one that you love and know that having the right loft, lie, length, weight, and even grip is giving you a better chance than what you had.
Have you ever gone through a putter fitting? Is it something you might consider? Let us know your experiences and thoughts, jump into the conversation below or with thousands of other golfers on the THP Community.
It’s putter fitting month at Club Champion and that means if you do want a new putter, they will give you a free putter fitting to go along with that purchase.