Saturday, May 11, 2019

Owner’s Manual for Putters – Fitting an ArmLock


Based on the number of people who have reached out to me about arm lock putters, I am going to assume many of you reading this article are thinking of giving it a try. More so than many other equipment strategies, there are some specific things to consider before you try.

1. You can’t just grab any length armlock putter and contort yourself to it, the putter must be fit to you.

I know you are thinking, Yes Bruce, you say that all the time about any putter. Yes, but in this case more than any other design strategy, putter length and lie are critical. It isn’t about just making the putter longer. If you do that, the odds are you will feel twisted, and fight alignment issues over the ball.
Find a comfortable putting posture with the ball in the position you see it best. Then bend your arms at the elbow a little, so that both forearms point toward the ball. Now measure from a point 2 inches below the elbow to the ball. This is your putter length for arm lock.



2. Make sure the putter soles properly on the ground at this length and ball position. It will not likely be your standard 70 degree lie angle. Having the putter sit flat on the ground is important with any putter, but it is critical with an arm lock, you can’t change elbow bend without hitting it fat, and you don’t want to change spine angle to hit the ball.

3. Take a picture of your set up, face on, with your hands touching in front of you. Load the picture in Power Point and draw a vertical line up from the ball. Now copy that line. Align it with the ball and rotate the line so it starts at the ball and aligns with your lead forearm. This measurement is the minimum amount of loft required for your putter. So far it has been different for every putter we have fit. The following example is a 6° deloft. It would require around 8 degrees of loft on the putter.



As we now have a static fit, how would you decide what type of head design works for you?

1. Check your shoulder alignment from your new set up. You will have a tendency. Some of you will be more comfortable a little open. Some of you a little closed. A few of you might even be parallel, but I will warn you this has been the exception and not the rule. Again, the reason is the forced position of the arms, your visual preference, and to some extent the influence of your dominant arm.

2. If you are open, look to putter head designs with minimal if any offset, or the face forward designs, like BioMech.

3. If tend to be closed, you are looking for offset heads. Bettinardi is a leader in this strategy.

4. The farther you lean the shaft forward, the more you will want to avoid big mallets, unless they are designed with the face in front of the shaft. You want the sole of the putter to be parallel to the ground. If the mallet tilts forward, getting the ball to roll correctly is very difficult. This is true for every style but again exaggerated by an armlock.


As always you can contact me directly if you have any questions.



Monday, May 6, 2019

DIYPutterFitting 12

As you decide what putter works best for your visual strategy and movement patterns, try to avoid assumptions based on marketing labels. Everyone is different. Look for the details that makes you unique. Fit to your needs rather than generic concepts. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

DIYPutterFitting 11

The correct putter length is critical to a balanced posture. Very hard to stay still over the ball if you are on your heels, or too much over your toes. We fit length with the players eyes closed. Fun to watch the posture change as they try not to fall down.

Monday, April 22, 2019

DIY Putter Fitting 8-9-10


8 - Pertaining to the concept of when the ball starts to roll. Critical to speed control. Be sure to consider the green conditions you play. A putter fit to indoor carpet might not be a good fit outdoors.

9-If you use technology to aid your putter fitting goals, beware of a tendency to exaggerate the data. Look to a fit that centers the strike and influences a consistent face to path orientation. The rest will take care if itself

10 - I have received lots of comments about ball roll. My public response is that the sooner you realize the ground creates the ball roll and not the putter, the sooner you can worry about the things that matter. Ball speed when it does begin to roll and direction.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

#DiyPutterFitting 7

As you fit the length and lie of your putter, chose the length first. If you need to adjust the lie, be sure to consider the influence the bend will have on your putter design. Finally, if you do have to bend for lie, remember to install the grip after you bend the putter as bending can change the orientation of grip to face.

Monday, April 15, 2019

DIYPUTTERFITTING 6

I find it interesting that putter swing weight is not a concern for many oem’s. Yet Tiger insisted his Newport weighed D2. I think the greatest value of counterweighting is the ability to help get the swingweight correct.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

DIY Putter Fitting 5

One of the key components of a good fit is to match what you feel to what you see. It is the reason our vision test is our primary concern. For the DIYer it is about finding where you see it best, then matching your posture and grip placement to match what you see. So many times I watch a player meticulously aim the putter, only to move the putter because their hand position or posture doesn't feel "right" based on what they see. In addition, I can't tell you how many players have told me about their best set up, only to then tell me that they didn't use it because it "wasn't the right way". 

The best thing you can do for your putting is to start with the idea that there is no right way only what works best for you.
These are 3 of countless options.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

DIY Putter Fitting 4

Where you need to position the ball relative to stance is much more efficient way to determine your aim strategy and accuracy than putter visuals. Where do you see it best? Never let a fitter move your ball position without consideration of what that will do to your ability to aim the putter and your perception of ball path.

Monday, April 8, 2019

DIY Putterfitting 3

You can make a very strong argument that how you place your hands on the putter, and the grip style you use, have as much influence on aim as your vision. Do you twist your arms to match what you see? If so you need a different grip.

The problem comes from how your arms attach to the club. Just because you have a reminder or flat portion of the grip square to the face, that doesn't mean your arms fit that orientation. There are a couple of tests. The easiest one is to grip the club in an aimed position. Now close your eyes and hold the putter up off the ground so your arms have to support the weight of the club. Now open your eyes. Has the putter turned left or right? If so you have a situation where the natural orientation of your hands and arms don't match what you see. Typically, when you go in motion your arms and hands will move to the point of least stress. This might twist the club to a position that is not square to the target line.

One of the least popular suggestions I make, is to suggest a round grip on your putter. In most cases this is the fix for this issue. This eliminates the problem of your feel for square not matching what square looks like. Just aim the putter. Put you hands on the grip, then hit the putt. Look for a consistent miss. You might have to adjust how you place your hands, but at least the grip orientation will not interfere with your adjustment. You can do the same thing with a reminder grip, but the chances of getting your hands to match the grip when you adjust, are few.

I know this might sound "out there" but think about this. Why do some players constantly change how they place their hands on the club? Or change to claw or left hand low. After years of solving this with a round grip, I have come to the conclusion that what they feel doesn't match what they see.

As always join the discussion at www.puttertalk.com

Saturday, April 6, 2019

DIY Putting Advice

Three important factors in fitting that are normally lumped into a generic toe hang description. First to look at the distance of the shaft axis from the toe of the putter. Second, where is the center of percussion relative to the shaft axis, Finally how does that influence to position of the face relative to the sweet-spot path. Basically this analysis will help you understand why you hit pulls with some putters and pushes with another.

Try to avoid the mistake of using another player or teachers example to influence your decision. Especially avoid the one style fits all mentality!


Three important factors in fitting that are normally lumped into a generic toe hang description. First to look at the distance of the shaft axis from the toe of the putter. Second, where is the center of percussion relative to the shaft axis, Finally how does that influence to position of the face relative to the sweet-spot path. Basically this analysis will help you understand why you hit pulls with some putters and pushes with another.


Three important factors in fitting that are normally lumped into a generic toe hang description. First to look at the distance of the shaft axis from the toe of the putter. Second, where is the center of percussion relative to the shaft axis, Finally how does that influence to position of the face relative to the sweet-spot path. Basically this analysis will help you understand why you hit pulls with some putters and pushes with another.

Try to avoid the mistake of using another player or teachers example to influence your decision. Especially avoid the one style fits all mentality! Follow the conversation...

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Return of PutterTalk.com

Early on in my putting strategy and fitting research, I would post some of my findings on a collector's forum called PutterTalk.com. It gave me the opportunity to present my views, and discuss the merits of the research with other advocates. Which is all a fancy way of saying I got ripped pretty good. The discussion on eyes over the ball was a beauty. But I continued, and if it weren't for that forum I would have never been presented some of the opportunities I have had to meet and share information with players and instructors from around the world. I will always be grateful.

I am so pleased to see the "new' version of "PutterTalk" and very proud they have asked me to be a contributor. I still plan to post here, but hope to broaden my approach to all aspects of the game. Maybe share a little more of the gems that Mr. Palmer shared with me in our practice sessions at Latrobe. To read my first two contributions click the link below the logo.


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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Distance Control

It is much more important to know how a specific distance feels than how it looks. If you can roll a ball a described distance with your eyes closed you know you are on the right track. That is why we want the putter to match the stroke. We want the putter that is best matched in weight, and face balance so there is no interference to the motion. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Putting Strategies - Artist or Engineer?


Over the course of my career I have encountered thousands of people who play golf on a serious level. Not all of them tour caliber talent, of course, but regardless of skill level, serious none the less. One thing that is apparent immediately is how personalities play a major role in how they all approach the game. How do they choose equipment, what do they look for in a lesson, what appeals to them from an information standpoint, even how do they choose to practice?  I have found this to be especially true in putting. I think there are two basic categories of personalities. You have what I call the Artists. These are players that describe their putting stroke as how it feels. Putter-weight, feel off the face and stroke tempo are typical concerns. Then you have the Engineers. They think in technical terms like launch angles, skid to roll ratios, face to path and path to target. The Engineers want to know what kind of technology you use and what it would tell them. The Artists would rather not use it or know.

Back when I was doing some traveling, introducing PuttLab to golf instructors and players, these categories were obvious from the start. My first professional event was in New York on the Champions Tour. I set up my PuttLab and it was fascinating to watch the separation of the two groups. There were those who couldn’t get enough information and immediately judged their results as good or bad based on numbers they had never seen before. Just as big was the group that cut a wide berth, as if coming within certain distance of the technology was going to influence their skills and results.

When I speak about these concepts I am always asked, “Can you be both?” The answer is, of course, but initially I think it is critically important to understand how you perceive the best way for you and what direction you need to travel to find an optimal state of mind and function. I often joke and say what you really want to be is an architect. Creating art from an engineering standpoint. Or having the ability to see art in the function.

This form of player analysis has served me very well. It helps me ask specific questions rather than make generic statements. I look for conflicts. For example, an Engineer who is tall and stands off the ball, fit to a longer putter, might struggle to find a low rotation pattern along a minimal arc.  So, if he was fit with a high MOI face balanced mallet at 36 inches, 2 degrees flat, he might struggle with a low rotation, minimal arc, pattern he prefers. That is where the Burnt Edge System kicks in. Let’s find out what you need. All the time keeping what you like or prefer in mind as we progress. As people learn more about the Burnt Edge System there are number who want to put everything in absolutes. It doesn’t work that way. The player determines the absolute, not me.

For those of you that follow my work, you know I took a bit of a break over the holidays to decide what direction I wanted to take the concepts we have developed. The decision is made, and my hope is to be more diligent in bringing the concepts to you through this blog. Email anytime and if you are interested in personal help in the process the annual program is still in effect. https://bargolfinstruction.blogspot.com/2017/09/ten-years-ago-i-was-part-of-team-that.html