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Custom Fitting a Putter

The Details

As we start to look at some of the finer details of the fittings, I think it's important to look more closely at of the most basic determinations golfers make about their own putting technique.

What type of putting stroke do I have? Am I straight back and straight through, or do I putt with an arc...maybe even a strong one? Do I need a face-balanced mallet, or a blade with an abundance of toe hang?

These are fundamental fitting questions. If you believe in PING's Fit For Stroke method, the answers should dictate the type of putter we buy.

Observation and now data has taught us that many golfers believe they are straight back straight through putters. That same data tells us that many golfers are wrong, and that almost certainly has consequences on the golf course.

55% of golfers who took part in this study arrived with face-balanced (straight back straight through) putters. 40% gamed Slight Arc putters, while only 5% were gaming what we would classify as Strong Arc putters.
These post-fitting results border on astonishing. Despite accounting for only 5% of the gamers in the study, a full half of the golfers tested were fit into Strong Arc models. Slight Arc models dipped slightly to 35%, while the most popular hang style of putter in the tester's bags (Straight) accounted for only 15% of the post-fit putters.

Of further interest, when the fittings were complete it was found that only 4 of 20 (20%) golfers in our study were playing a putter designed for their individual stroke type.

Putter loft is often a reflection of the manufacturing company's philosophy. Some believe more loft is necessary in order to lift the ball out of it's resting position, while others believe it's beneficial to minimize skipping and start the ball rolling as quickly as possible. The thing is, we don't all play the same driver loft. Should we all be playing the same putter loft?

The golfers who participated in this survey started with an average loft of 3.9° with the range being from 0° to 5°. After looking at how the golfers delivered the club at impact (primarily through shaft lean), PING's fitters determined the optimum loft for each individual tester.

The overwhelming majority (80%) were fit for putters with less loft than what they came in with. This would seem to suggest a tendency towards adding loft at impact (hands behind the putter head). Only 2, including the owner of the zero loft putter, were given more loft, while 2 golfers required no change in loft.

The average in change in loft was 2.375° with a high of 3.5°.

Not surprising to anyone who pays attention to the number of golfers putting with the toe well off the turf, the majority (60%) of participants in this study were fit for a putter with a flatter lie angle than what was currently in their bags. 30% needed a more upright putter, while 2 participants were fine where they were.

What's of particular interest from a fitting standpoint is that while the average change was 1° flat, a number of the study's participants required substantial lie adjustments, with one golfer requiring a change of 5.5° flatter, while another fit for an astounding 7° flatter lie angle.

A closer look at the data reveals that while the majority of golfers were already playing putters of an appropriate length. 25% of those who participated in the study were fit for longer putters, while the other 25% were fit for shorter putters.

The average change was .0625" shorter, while changes of 1"-1.5" were common.

So how did all of those changes manifest themselves? More than half of the golfers in the study were fit into mallets. It should be noted that a not all mallets are face-balanced. There are numerous options available for both slight and strong arc golfers.

Only 2 of 20 testers were fit into a mid mallet style, while 7 were fit into what we would call blade designs.

Key Fitting Takeways

    19/20 golfers in this study required at least 2 adjustments (loft, lie, stroke type)
    16/20 golfers in this study needed a change in stroke type. Most came in with face balanced putters. Most left with strong arc.