A Girl’s Best Friend In The Game Of Golf
What’s More Precious Than A Diamond In The Rough? The Perfect Putter On The Green. Here’s How To Find A Flat Stick That Fits Every Aspect Of Your Putting Game
By Martin Kaufmann
So, you can’t hit your driver 250 yards. So what? We all know driving’s for show anyway. The money club, the crown jewel of your bag, is the putter. It’s the great equalizer, the club that makes or breaks your score. Many of us spend a lifetime searching for the perfect putter, amassing impressive collections of weird-looking clubs in the process (admit it, you own at least five that belong in a garage sale). Take heart – there is an ideal putter for you out there. The smartest ways to find it are to take your time, do some research and – most important – get fitted.
When you look at a diamond on your finger, you expect it to look good, right? Same goes for the club you hold when you putt. This isn’t solely a cosmetic issue. There are offset hosels which position the leading edge of the clubface behind the shaft and non-offset hosels, mallet and blade style heads, belly and long putters – the list goes on. You’ll find that certain designs inspire more confidence than others, depending on your stance and ball position. Test a variety of putter styles to see which you prefer, and find out which designs enhance your natural stroke. If your swing path is straight, back and through, try face-balanced models because they naturally follow a straight line. You can tell a model is face-balanced if, when the shaft is balanced on your finger, the face points toward the sky. If you open the putter blade at impact and then close it on the follow-through, consider a heel-shafted putter, which complements this type of stroke. When a heel-shafted model is balanced on your finger, its toe will point toward the ground.
Fit to putt
According to a Golf Datatech survey in September 2001,only 20 per cent of putters are custom-fit. Ping’s marketing product manager for club fitting, Daryl Crawford, suspects that because putts don’t travel far, golfers don’t think putters need to be precisely fitted. Yet one of golf’s best known statistics is that putting accounts for 40 per cent of total strokes. Do you still want to use an ill-fitted, off-the-rack model? Custom-fitting will help you nail the basics: length and lie. It also addresses nuances in your putting stroke. For instance, if you start your stroke with a forward press, pushing your hands forward, you’ll deloft the putter. A good fitter will compensate by choosing a model with more loft.
You can find fitters at most pro shops and better golf for women retailers.
The long and short of It
Length and lie are the most critical factors in a putter. The vast majority of putters measure 32 to 37 inches, and35-inch models are the biggest sellers. But don’t be concerned with what’s popular – try a few different lengths to find the one that works best with your stance.
Grip the putter and assume an address position with your arms relaxed and hanging straight down from your shoulders. Your eyes should be above the ball, the putter’s sole flat on the ground. Allow for about an inch of grip between your hands and the butt end of the club. Many golfers, women in particular, use a putter that is too long, and this ends up affecting its lie. The toe of the club head sticks up in the air, inviting an erratic stroke. The sole of the head should sit flush against the ground, which happens only if the putter is the proper length. Women often cut down their putter shafts in an attempt to create the right length, but that’s a poor solution. If you trim inches off the shaft, you’ll reduce the swingweight, and the putterhead will feel lighter than it should. You’re better off getting a new putter that has the right length, since it’s been balanced to the right swingweight.
Your own style putting is the one part of golf in which you’re allowed to do pretty much whatever you want. As you can tell by watching the pros on television, there are many putting styles. You can use the grip that feels most comfortable, stand the way that feels best and take the stroke that suits you. “Watching a person putt is like looking at fingerprints –everybody’s different,” says Deedee Lasker, Callaway Golf’s manager of women’s and amateur golf, who has studied hundreds of putting strokes at the company’s putting center. Problem is, many golfers try to change their fingerprints to fit the putter instead of the other way around. When buying a new putter, make sure you pick one that allows you to maintain the stance and stroke you like. If you have to change the way you stand when you address the ball, there’s a good chance you have the wrong club in your hands.
Insert mania In the past few years, manufacturers have fallen in love with placing soft inserts of different materials in the faces of their putters. Inserts are made of lighter materials, which enhances perimeter weighting. For instance, the Titallium insert used in TaylorMade’s new Rossa putters accounts for only four per cent of the putterhead’s weight. With additional weight in the heel and toe, there is more resistance to twisting at impact, which usually leads to straighter putts. Whether you should get an insert putter is mainly a matter of personal preference. Do you like the way an insert feels at impact? Do you like how it sounds? If so, it will probably give you more confidence when you’re standing over the putt, which can only help your game. Get a grip When choosing a putter grip, the general rule is that less skilled players should consider thicker designs, which inhibit hand action and promote a smooth arm-and-shoulder stroke. But again, this is an issue about what feels right. One caveat: like shortening the shaft, changing the grip will affect the swing weight. If you put a thicker grip on your putter than what it originally had, you’ll move weight to the top of the shaft, making the putterhead feel lighter. That’s another argument for custom-fitting from the beginning, which eliminates afterthoughts.
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