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Putting Stroke vs. Putter Design


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Blades, mallets, half mallets, metal faced, grooved face, insert face, heel shafted, center shafted.... ūü§™.¬† I've been spending a little time getting spooled up on putter designs and buzz about various makes and models.¬† A question I have is should you choose a putter that fits your natural putting stroke/path or decide on a putting stroke and pick a putter to match?¬†¬†PING's online tool states to "Fit for Stroke" yet some articles suggest "tour level putters" have a very slight arc to straight back and forward stroke - which suggests to me one should move towards mastering that stroke.¬† Thoughts on that?

Using the straightedge on the floor method to establish my natural stroke, I'm pretty sure I'm in the mid to strong arc (in to out) category.  I've been sporting a PING B61 for over 30 years and it's been on my list of equipment upgrades - although back burner.  The B61 looks to be suited for my arc style swing path but now we get into the weeds as to how much toe hang... in addition to weight, MOI, length, etc.

Yea, I know, putter fitting ūüôā.¬† But until I get that done, I'm curious how you¬†went about putter decisions,¬†and specifically whether anyone moved to a new putter stroke and purchased the putter to match.

PS. Forgot to include this link... one of the better overviews I've found.  Putter Fitting 101 - True Spec Golf

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I honestly don't know the answer and not sure anyone truly does. My experience has been when changing something from what you do naturally is a long difficult process. I always use this analogy: If your doctor told you to walk a different way you could do it initially however over time you would revert back to your natural stride. It takes patience, conscious thought and discipline to change it. 

 

So if it was me I would find a putter to fit my natural stroke. It doesn't mean I wouldn't try to improve the stroke but I wouldn't change my stroke to fit a "box". 

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I'm with @THEZIPR23, I'd suggest that you buy a putter that works with your swing.  I know its almost heresy, but I'm not a huge believer in the toe-hang v. arc type stuff.  The extremely small amount of torque required for the really small rotation of the clubface over a relatively long time (compared to full swings) leads me to think its a pretty minor point.  Most important, in my mind, are your ability to aim the putter properly (size, shape, markings, offset, etc) and to sole it consistently to get a consistent role (length and lie angle along with loft).  Weight and weight distribution (grip v. shaft v. head) can help with distance control, but a part of me believes that you can learn distance control with any good putter.  Its the alignment and consistent roll that are most important, in my mind.  

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@fixyurdivot your question is like the chicken and egg... Your stroke has a number of measurable parameters: tempo, shaft lean, face rotation, path, just to name a few. Getting a lesson while using CAPTO to measure all these parameters helped me understand a lot about my stroke and gave the instructor a better idea of faults and small fixes. 

Changing putter styles will inevitably affect some of these numbers even if in your mind you feel you are producing the same swing. For example, going from a 345g Anser with a pistol grip to a 370g mallet with an oversized, counterbalanced round grip. Adjusting putter specs can move your current tendencies closer to "ideal" if you are chasing specific numbers and can be worth an experiment. You're likely to have less arc and/or face rotation with a face balanced or center shafted mallet with a shorter length and upright lie angle. I have 2 near identical putters (length, lie, head/grip weight) with the major difference being a SS Flatso vs Mid Slim grip. Just the grip change causes noticeable changes in rotation. 

As mentioned above, you need to figure out what you can aim and the quality of roll to control distance. With enough reps you can learn to use any putter, but is that a productive use of practice time? There are often tradeoffs in performance on short vs long putts, it's best to test putters on course by tracking either make rates and leave distances or SG putting (preferably at the same course to minimizes variables like speed and learning reads). 

I control delivered loft better using a forward press so my wrist angles don't change prior to impact. This significantly improves my distance control but my swing path will usually get further in to out (need to play ball farther forward to deliver similar total loft) which isn't ideal to control direction. Because I struggle with distance control more than start line and want to reduce 3 putts, my plan is to keep the press unless my performance improves with a more neutral shaft lean and more centered ball position. Pushing your stroke towards your consistent miss (pulls vs pushes) can also make it easier to aim than if you push 50% of misses and pull the other 50%. 

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Although I had a professional putter fitting once, I've been doing a lot of self-discovery. My issue with putter fittings is that within a small sample size, i could either putt decently or not putt well with any putter. For example, within 5 putts in a fitting environment, I may make the most putts with a mini-golf putter. Whereas, over the long term in the real world, that mini-golf putter would definitely not be the best fit putter.

In my self-discovery, i discovered i needed a putter less than 32" (i think i have optimized at 31"). I am guessing many fitters would not have fit me in a putter that short, just because they probably never put any men in that short of a putter. But i do have an out of the norm height and wrist to floor for a man, so it does make sense why I am using a 31" putter and after hitting hundreds of putts, i've determined its much better than a 32" or longer putter. I have also determined that i am less likely to pull putts with a putter with a small amount of toe hang compared to a face balanced putter

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Play whichever stroke/grip/putter style gets the ball in the hole quickest. That's all that matters... I guess that puts me in the, "find what works for your stroke" camp.

I'd hate to dedicate too much time trying to develop a specific putting stroke for it to not work out. It's kind of like chasing the "textbook" swing IMO.

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2 hours ago, dlow206 said:

Although I had a professional putter fitting once, I've been doing a lot of self-discovery. My issue with putter fittings is that within a small sample size, i could either putt decently or not putt well with any putter. For example, within 5 putts in a fitting environment, I may make the most putts with a mini-golf putter. Whereas, over the long term in the real world, that mini-golf putter would definitely not be the best fit putter.

In my self-discovery, i discovered i needed a putter less than 32" (i think i have optimized at 31"). I am guessing many fitters would not have fit me in a putter that short, just because they probably never put any men in that short of a putter. But i do have an out of the norm height and wrist to floor for a man, so it does make sense why I am using a 31" putter and after hitting hundreds of putts, i've determined its much better than a 32" or longer putter. I have also determined that i am less likely to pull putts with a putter with a small amount of toe hang compared to a face balanced putter

Kind of liking the new adjustable length putters being offered.  At least that gives us one thing we can experiment with.

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5 hours ago, fixyurdivot said:

Blades, mallets, half mallets, metal faced, grooved face, insert face, heel shafted, center shafted.... ūü§™.¬† I've been spending a little time getting spooled up on putter designs and buzz about various makes and models.¬† A question I have is should you choose a putter that fits your natural putting stroke/path or decide on a putting stroke and pick a putter to match?¬†¬†PING's online tool states to "Fit for Stroke" yet some articles suggest "tour level putters" have a very slight arc to straight back and forward stroke - which suggests to me one should move towards mastering that stroke.¬† Thoughts on that?

Using the straightedge on the floor method to establish my natural stroke, I'm pretty sure I'm in the mid to strong arc (in to out) category.  I've been sporting a PING B61 for over 30 years and it's been on my list of equipment upgrades - although back burner.  The B61 looks to be suited for my arc style swing path but now we get into the weeds as to how much toe hang... in addition to weight, MOI, length, etc.

Yea, I know, putter fitting ūüôā.¬† But until I get that done, I'm curious how you¬†went about putter decisions,¬†and specifically whether anyone moved to a new putter stroke and purchased the putter to match.

PS. Forgot to include this link... one of the better overviews I've found.  Putter Fitting 101 - True Spec Golf

Im skeptical that putter style and putting stroke should match.  You can have a blade putter that is face balanced and you can have a mallet that has toe hang.

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1 hour ago, fixyurdivot said:

Kind of liking the new adjustable length putters being offered.  At least that gives us one thing we can experiment with.

Those Ping adjustable putters only go down to 32", which is not good for me¬†ūüėí

EDIT: Probably that 32" to 36" adjustable range fits 95% of the population (maybe more), i just happen to be outside that range. Then again, I can't buy pants from a store without hemming them either.

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7 hours ago, fixyurdivot said:

  A question I have is should you choose a putter that fits your natural putting stroke/path or decide on a putting stroke and pick a putter to match?  

I think it is better to fit your natural stroke.  As others have mentioned,  under pressure you will typically revert to your natural stroke.  That said,  you do make choices about your putting stroke like how to power the stroke and  how to setup to the ball.  These choices will influence the characteristics of your stroke such as arc, rotation, path, and path bias. 

You next option is to pick a putter and figure out how to make a stroke to make the putter work.

I don't think picking the characteristics of your stroke is a realistic way to approach putting 

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  • 1 month later...

So what is the best way of knowing your stroke without consciously changing your style to what you think it is?

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So what is the best way of knowing your stroke without consciously changing your style to what you think it is?

In my opinion knowing your stroke isn’t that important. You can generally say the closer
You stand to the ball the less arc and rotation you have and the farther away the more you have. That is just on consideration but not the only consideration in finding the right putter.

Try different putters until you find the one that you have the best face and distance control with.

When you try putter, don’t try to hole putts,
Roll a ball over a dime that is 16‚ÄĚ in front of the ball.
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8 hours ago, rbsiedsc said:

So what is the best way of knowing your stroke without consciously changing your style to what you think it is?

I learned a bit about my putting stroke making videos for the Heppler review last fall.  The changes I made were mostly setup with hand position and head/eye position.  I did notice differences in my take away with differently weighted putters, I tended to wander off the path with lighter putters. 

My stroke remains the same slight arc but....

using a heavier putter adjusted to a good length for me...

getting my head/eyes in the right position to see the real line so I don't subconsciously adjust the stroke....

and keeping my hands a little higher and away from my body.....

and practice, practice, practice....and more practice...¬†¬†ūüėÜ

improved my repeatability and gets the putts on the intended line a lot better and has pretty much eliminated 3 putts.

 

 

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I learned a bit about my putting stroke making videos for the Heppler review last fall.  The changes I made were mostly setup with hand position and head/eye position.  I did notice differences in my take away with differently weighted putters, I tended to wander off the path with lighter putters. 
My stroke remains the same slight arc but....
using a heavier putter adjusted to a good length for me...
getting my head/eyes in the right position to see the real line so I don't subconsciously adjust the stroke....
and keeping my hands a little higher and away from my body.....
and practice, practice, practice....and more practice...  
improved my repeatability and gets the putts on the intended line a lot better and has pretty much eliminated 3 putts.
 
 

Great points.

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11 hours ago, rbsiedsc said:

So what is the best way of knowing your stroke without consciously changing your style to what you think it is?

Putters are all trial and error. The only good way to test is on a putting green unfortunately because indoors you can only measure aim and start line, leaving out speed control. In my experience, I have better start line (face control) using mid-mallets with less toe hang but distance control is better with moderate toe hang (30-45 deg) putters which are usually blade style. Best bet to "learn your stroke type" would be to measure your stroke using a wide variety of putters - face balanced, moderate and strong toe hang to see which matches your closure rate best.

Grip size and shape makes a big difference in how you react to the putter as well as weight for swing tempo. Head shape and alignment lines influence aim as well as length and lie. With enough reps you can play with any putter, but it may cause you to make setup adjustments and learn compensations that may not be ideal. On the flip side, just because you bought a "perfectly fit" putter it isn't going to drop your handicap by 5 shots. You still need to get reps in with the putter and dial in setup, alignment and grip. 

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The only good way to test is on a putting green unfortunately because indoors you can only measure aim and start line, leaving out speed control.


I keep reading that you can’t get better inside or really get fit and that mentality totally baffles me.

Greens rolls at particular speed which can be duplicated indoors. I can use long mats to practice distance control if I have enough space. with a lack of space my exputt has been amazing to work on distance control. I could even work on breaks indoors if I have enough cash to buy something like the personal puttview system or could find one locally.

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16 minutes ago, cnosil said:

 


I keep reading that you can’t get better inside or really get fit and that mentality totally baffles me.

Greens rolls at particular speed which can be duplicated indoors. I can use long mats to practice distance control if I have enough space. with a lack of space my exputt has been amazing to work on distance control. I could even work on breaks indoors if I have enough cash to buy something like the personal puttview system or could find one locally.

 

And there’s numerous coaches that both practice indoors and give tips for how to get better indoors.

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1 hour ago, cnosil said:

 


I keep reading that you can’t get better inside or really get fit and that mentality totally baffles me.

Greens rolls at particular speed which can be duplicated indoors. I can use long mats to practice distance control if I have enough space. with a lack of space my exputt has been amazing to work on distance control. I could even work on breaks indoors if I have enough cash to buy something like the personal puttview system or could find one locally.

 

Exputt is great for speed control and I use mine every week for this purpose. I would guess the population of golfers who have been on Puttview is less than 1%, and negligible for the amount of people who practice on one regularly.

I never said you cannot get better indoors and the tools above are great examples of ways to do that. It can be a challenge to find an indoor facility where you can be fit while hitting 30' putts or work on your ladder drills from 10-30' (let alone 30-50'). You can hit some long putts in PGA SS, but are they setting you up on a Trackman, CAPTO, or SAM? Or are you rolling 10-15 footers to the same target over and over. 

SAM assessments output a range of toe hangs which yields multiple putters. Edel seems to be the only fitting system where you can change grip types. The overall point I was trying to make is there are many variables (head shape/weight, hosel, grip size/shape, alignment system, inserts), some of which are difficult to test in ANY fitting. The best way to evaluate a putter is the one that results in the best SG: Putting, which for most people is only able to be analyzed from trial and error results on course. 

Any fitting is an attempt to select a club that gives you the best chance of achieving that based on the stroke that day (from the selection available at the facility). 

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Always determine honestly the true inherent nature of your putting stroke.  Keep it natural and do not alter it based on a putter or what the current issue of Golf Digest suggests as the best stroke.  The best stoke for any of us is what comes naturally.  A comfortable stance will determine length of a putter and the lie of a putter.  Getting fitted by someone who actually knows something about putting would be a great plus here.  This is often hard because to find someone who knows about putting and how to fit a putter isn't something that exists in every pro shop or club fitting house.  I have seen too many people who believe they know what is best for someone else and knows very little about putting.  Just a smattering of BS coming out of their mouths.  A SAM putting fitting system will show realistic traits of a person's putting and that data is invaluable.  That said, the inherent nature of that stroke will guide you to the type of putter you should have.  I believe a straight back, straight through stroke should warrant a mallet type of putter head.  Conversely I believe a gate stroke (arcing stroke) should be matched with a blade type of putter.  Then the style of head should come into play.  I also believe that a putter should be aesthetically pleasing to the golfer.  For me personally if a golf club doesn't look pleasing or right to me I can never use it.  No matter how good it is.  A properly fitted putter (for stroke, length, lie, loft and weight) will work wonders for a golfer.  To believe a OTR (Off The Rack) putter will transform someones putting is unrealistic. 

Edited by RobotDoctor
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Driver:¬† TaylorMade M3 440cc 9.5¬į (tour issue 9.9), Graphite Design Tour AD DI 6S

3W:¬†¬†TaylorMade M4 15¬į (small head), Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7S

Hybrid:¬† TaylorMade SLDR 2I Hybrid at 17¬į, Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8S¬† ||¬†¬†Irons:¬† Ben Hogan Icon 4-PW, Nippon Modus3 Tour 120 stiff

Wedges:¬† Scratch Golf 1018 forged: 50¬į,¬†54¬į, 58¬į, Nippon Modus3 Tour 120 stiff¬†||¬†¬†Putter: Byron Morgan custom Epic Day

Ball: Taylormade Tour Preferred (2016 ball)  ||  Bag: Sun Mountain Three 5 stand bag

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