Your Putter is More Important Than You Think
Putting Accounts for 40% of Your Game
Over 40% of the average golfers’ strokes are made using a putter, yet most will never take a putting lesson, get properly fit for a putter, or will purchase a putter based on its look, manufacturer, or some other factor that may not allow them to putt better consistently. Additionally, most golfers spend far less time practicing putting and learning how to read greens, in comparison to the amount of time they put work into the full swing. This lack of practice, poor green-reading skills, and many times a poorly fit putter, gives us a clearer picture as to why most average golfers are not good putters. Assessing strengths and weaknesses will allow instructors to focus in on need areas and help improve upon deficient areas fairly quickly.
Just like in the full swing, many different styles of putting exist. From straight back straight through to full arcing strokes, there are many ways to get the ball into the hole. We are not really concerned with style as much as we are the key fundamentals (setup, posture, grip, etc.), which help produce a repeatable stroke with consistent roll, and good initial ball direction.
The first key element we examine is how you aim the putter. Not being able to aim the putter consistently, and somewhere near where you want the ball to start will make things more difficult than need be.
Second important factor is start line or ball direction. Ideally, it would start as close to the intended target line as possible. This is one of the three key elements to good putting.
The third item is pace, speed, or distance control. Having improper speed on your putts makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to become a great putter. This is another of the three key elements of great putting.
Finally, one of the most overlooked aspects of putting is learning how to read greens properly. Using techniques such as Aimpoint, or a general view of the slope of a green as you approach the putting surface can dramatically help golfers of all abilities improve their green-reading skills. This is the final key element to being a great putter.
Well, then if I am good at those elements should I get fit? It all depends. Generally, a golfer that comes in for a putting session, or lesson, is not performing great in those areas. This can be a reason why they are struggling. An ill-fitting putter can also contribute to poor aim, path, face angle at impact, over or under rotation of the putter face during the stroke, centeredness of contact, speed control, and other areas. So, getting fit for a putter can help, especially if you are struggling.
To put it in simple terms, a properly fit putter should allow the user to aim the putter consistently, start the putt on the intended line, roll the ball properly, and with the proper speed. When these elements are dialed in, your putting statistics will improve, and a reduction in handicap should follow suit. Some players might only be deficient in one area and that can be fixed with a minor equipment modification (lie angle, length, weight, etc.). Or it could be a more serious problem such as an ill-fit putter or a breakdown in mechanics. The ill-fit putter could be remedied with instruction and practice, or remedied with a putter that better fits your stroke style.
What’s the Next Step?
Instruction should always be the first pathway to help improve your putting. Using technology like SAM PuttLab and video, we gain a clear understanding of what is happening with your putting stroke. This then gives us the data, and possibly video evidence, that we need to assess and prescribe the proper remedies for you. Then if we realize your putter is not fit for your stroke or tendencies, we might then recommend a fitting session or a new style of putter.
While putting seems like a relatively easy task, there are elements that make it a bit more complicated. If you are having trouble with your putting, green reading, or want to get properly fit for a putter, go and see a qualified putting specialist to help get your putting back on the right path.
Contact Dan Grannan, Impact Zone Golf® certified putting specialist, at 239-236-5536