Thursday, November 8, 2007

Why Custom Fit your Putter?

Easily the most neglected club in the bag from a playing perspective is the putter. Players spend hundreds of dollars to examine every minute detail of their full swing equipment and yet when it comes to the most subtle and exacting shots in the game – putting – for the most part they use what ever looks and feels best. The path the putter travels is defined by your posture and alignment to the intended line. There are number of parameters that define this posture.

Where do I position my head to best see the path I would like to swing the putter?

How does this head position influence the path of the stroke?

What is the best club length, so my arms and hands can work in conjunction with my shoulders to produce the smoothest stroke requiring the fewest compensations?

What is the correct lie angle of the putter at impact, so the ball will leave the putter in the correct direction?

What is the correct static loft for my putter to produce the best ball roll conditions that suit my game and putting strategies.

At the United States Golf Academy we use a state of the art technology called Puttlab to measure all movement and positions of the putter in three dimensions throughout the stroke. This system has taught us a great deal about putting strokes. One thing we know for sure is the most sccessful strokes are the consistent ones. Consistency can only come when the putter fits the player's posture. In future articles we will discuss in greater detail some of the Academy's discoveries, but in the meantime, we suggest if you are having difficulty with your putting, look to the fit of the putter you use before you make a change in your stroke or try a dramatic change in your posture. Everyone in some way has had a putter fitting. Most, through trial and error, have fit themselves to the putter they use: either by bending over or standing straighter or moving their hands to best fit the dimensions of their current putter. Unfortunately for the self fitter, they often do not understand that the path of the stroke should match the posture. A player with an upright posture will not be able to consistently swing the putter on a straight path, while the player who bends from the waist and puts his eyes directly over the ball would struggle with a stroke that swings on an arc path.

The other method is to have yourself fit by a professional. At the United States Golf Academy we use the following protocol for fitting putters.

1. Puttlab analysis of the stroke.

2. Video down the line to look for the best posture for the type of stroke.

3. Build a demo of chosen putter at fit dimensions.

4. Second Puttlab measurement to verify results.

5. Fit to lie at impact.

6. Final measurement.

This result oriented system has served us well and eliminates guess work and personal opinion.

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