How To Improve Your Putting in 5 Steps
Putting is part art and part science. The hours of practice and actually playing develop the art portion of feel for distance, proper break and directional control. Many players rely solely on the learned skill or art part of putting and ignore the equipment or science part because they are unaware of its importance.
The Easiest Ways to Improve Your Putting
Keep in mind that you want every variable possible removed from your putter that can unduly influence putting distance and directional control. The following explains the 5 areas of putter specifications that can and will dramatically improve your putting using science and technology coupled with the proper fitting skills. Get fit today and putt better immediately.
Step 1) Proper Length
This is always the first fitting variable to be determined. Its importance is to place the golfer in the proper posture position with the eyes directly over the ball. Proper length also allows the golfer to have their arms hinging directly under the shoulders thus promoting a smooth stroke transition from slightly inside to square at impact to slightly inside on the follow through.
This builds consistency in the stroke because it heavily influences both distance control and directional control. There has been a growing trend toward putters that are shorter in length. As a matter of fact, a number of manufacturers now offer 34” putters as the new men’s standard as compared to 35” in the recent past. Ladies’ putter lengths have also been reduced to 33” standard length where they were 34”.
The cause of this trend has been the more modern putting style of letting the arms and hands swing back and forth naturally and more directly under the shoulder pivot. One new trend that has surfaced is to use slightly longer putters that are counterbalanced.
The longer part of this is the result of the USGA decision to ban anchoring. Players that have used Belly or Long putters got accustomed to the heavier head weights necessary for these types of putters. If you simply shorten these Belly or Long putters to 34” or 35”, the head weights were simply too heavy.
You might ask “Why did they feel too heavy? If they liked the weight before why wouldn’t they like the weight with the shorter lengths?” The answer is quite simple. Not only did the Long and Belly putters length provide what they needed to anchor, they provided more weight at the grip end of the putter, effectively counterbalancing the putter so that the putter head did not feel too heavy. When you shorten a Belly or Long putter, you eliminate the counterbalance portion of the equation.
So, some players are going to longer lengths, generally from 37” to 42”, and adding a counterweight in the grip end to make the heavier head weight feel more “normal”. Testing indicates that heavier head weight putters that do employ some counter weighting technology can improve consistency in the stroke.
The thing to remember is that thee is not just one set up that works for everyone. You must test and work with an experienced fitter to dial in the proper set up for you.
Step 2) Proper Lie
The lie angle is a major factor in controlling the initial direction the ball will go after impact. If the toe of the putter is sticking up in the air, the ball will be pulled slightly to the left. Conversely, it the toe of the putter is down and the heel is up in the air, the ball will most likely be pushed slightly to the right.
This is because the putter head has loft, and if the putter head is not soled properly, the compound angle created by the loft and the tilt will aim the face to the left (too upright) or to the right (too flat). Also, an incorrect lie angle will cause a slightly less solid hit because the ball is being impacted at more of a glancing blow which also adds some degree of side spin.
Step 3) Proper Loft
Unknown to most players is the fact that the ball when resting on the greens surface actually settles down in a depression caused by the balls weight. Another unknown fact is that the ball will skid approximately 14% to 20% of its total distance regardless of how hard it is hit. Conversely, the ball in a pure roll state rolls some 80% to 86% of the total putts distance.
The purpose of a putters loft is to consistently hit any length putt with a consistent amount of skid and roll every time. This helps dramatically in controlling the distance a putt is hit. Here’s how it works: When you strike a putt the ball needs to be lifted up and out of its depression so that it can skid on top of the grass and not through it.
When the putt is not lifted slightly or if it is lifted too high it will bounce. You will usually not see this bounce but it will make your skid and roll through different length putts inconsistent. This in turn makes it very difficult for you to consistently achieve the proper putt distance. Most players will start the ball rolling consistently with a putter launch angle of 4°.
Simply because your putter has 4° loft does not mean you impact the ball with 4° of loft. Special equipment can determine your putters actual loft and whether or not your hands are ahead of the putter head at impact (de-lofting the putter), square to the putter head at impact (utilizing the actual loft on your putter) or if your hands are behind the putter head at impact (increasing the putters loft).
Step 4) Proper Swingweight
Many heads on putters are simply too light. The swingweight scale is used simply as a way to determine if a putter head is too heavy, too light or in the acceptable range. The proper swingweight range for a putter is between C-6 and D-8. A putter that is too heavy is better than a putter that is too light.
The proper putter head weight (swingweight) promotes the proper feel of the putter and more importantly becomes another major factor in distance control. Too light a putter mainly hurts consistent distance control but is also a factor in directional control.
Too heavy a putter usually does not affect directional control very much but it seriously affects distance control. The proper swingweight range for any conventional style putter in any length is very important and is another key putter fitting variable that most golfers are not aware of but would benefit from immensely.
Step 5) Putter Head MPF
Every putter head design type and style has a different playability level associated with it. Some are easier to use for certain golfers than are others. For instance, a golfer who does not consistently hit the putt on or near the center of the putter face would benefit dramatically from a putter design with a much bigger sweet spot.
On the other hand, a touring professional who impacts the putt consistently in a ¼” circle on the face can putt with any putter head style they like. Technically, the determining characteristic used in determining this playability factor (Maltby Playability Factor) is the putter head’s moment of inertia (determines the putter heads resistance to twisting on off center hits).
A special machine does this and classifies every putter head to an MPF number and puts it into a category which relates to the golfers ability. To the laymen, putters which have longer head lengths or have visible heel and toe weighting have higher moments of inertia and would benefit all golfers. Blade style putters would have lower moments of inertia and would usually be for better players only.
The 5 variables above are all very important to putting better. The person who actually fits you to your putter is also very important. That is why each putter fitter should have special training to understand how to fit you to the best putter possible. They should be able to explain to you the importance of each and every putter fitting step and what fits you the best.
You will never realize your full putting potential with a putter that is wrong for you. Get fit today and putt better immediately.