If you really want us to make you a
perfectly fitted putter, then I recommend that you go and get
fitted for a putter professionally, and email to us your
specifications. In the mean time, for some of you what you
read below may be enough.
Fitting a Putter to a golfer as compared
with fitting a set of Irons to a golfer is like comparing a Rock
to a Turkey. There is no set method for fitting putters to
golfers, because everybody's putting styles and stances are
different. Some golfers like to stand up taller, some like
to bend over at the waist, some like to stay sort of straight
and simply crouch down a bit etc. The putter is the only
club in the bag where a coach might tell you... "Do what feels
comfortable and natural to you." There are however, little
things within the putter stroke that are important that good
coaches will tell you to be conscientious of, like keeping the
putter head (heel & toe) parallel to the ground, not breaking
your left wrist during any part of the stroke, get your eyes
over the ball, things like that, and these are clues that will
tell you how long of a putter you need. Well I’m not here
to teach you how to putt, but there are some issues I’d like to
talk about that many golfers overlook, like the “Lie Angle” &
“Length” of a putter. Lie angle is as important as length.
The longer a putter is, the more upright (lie angle) it needs to
be in order for the golfer to stand more over the ball etc.
So I feel we need to discuss both topics
together, because their importance hinges upon one another.
But before we address these issues, we need to establish an
industry standard for Mens & Womens putter sizes.
Note: not all manufacturers use the same
standards, but the ones I've posted below, seem to be the most
common. So these are the standards that TreeLine Putters uses.
Standard Putter Length & Lie
Click to Enlarge
A putter cannot exceed 48”inches in
length, & can be no shorter than 18”inches in length.
I'm going to get a bit personal now,
personal that is of myself, and use myself (Bart Nordstrom,
Owner & Putter Designer of TreeLine Putters) as an example.
Putter length is not as important as lie
angle? Except to some men that aren't as tall as the average
person, and I'm one of them. I'm 5'ft-7"in tall, I've been
golfing since 1975, and the macho side of me for the first 20
years of golf, told me that I needed a standard men's length
putter. Heaven forbid I'd ever be caught with a putter the
same or shorter than a Woman's standard length putter. To
make a long story short, and it took some education to finally
realize that my game would be better off with a proper fitted
putter. The putter I carry in my bag today is 33" long, a
full inch shorter than a Woman's Standard Length Putter,
and I'm proud to use that length because I'm dropping a lot more
putts than I used to.
One of the things I used to do with my
putter when I had a full sized mens standard putter, is I'd heel
the putter to the ground, making the toe of the putter higher
off the ground than the heel, which also caused my head to be
too far away from the ball (my eyes weren’t over the ball).
Over time, I noticed that if I held the putter more upright, so
that the heel and toe of the putter were the same distance off
the ground, thus placing the putter head parallel to the ground,
my putts were more accurate. But in order to accomplish
keeping the putter head parallel to the ground (it now being
more upright), caused my elbows to be bent too much for my
comfort. So to compensate that effect, I’d lower my hands
toward the bottom of the grip, thus turning my 35” putter into a
33” or 32” putter. And when a golfer does that, he
eliminates the purpose of the shape of the grip, because the
meaty part of the grip is towards the top end of the grip.
So I cut my putter down, and regripped it, and I was amazed at
the difference. That was a long time ago, but still, every
time I go golfing I see someone practicing my old habit, heeling
their putter or gripping their putter down low. The meaty
portion of the grip was designed and placed there for a reason.
Watch a professional tournament someday, and take a good look at
each different player when he/she putts. I may be wrong,
but I can’t think of a single professional golfer that grips
their putter anywhere besides the meaty part of the grip, or
heels their putter to the green---which means they are all using
putters that fit their stance and playing style.
On the other hand, I see golfers who are
six feet tall and think they need a taller than standard sized
putter when they don’t. In actuality, unless a person has
a bad back, and cannot get over the ball, a standard sized
putter should fit most golfers up to 6’ft-5” tall. But
because they are taller than the average person, they think they
need their putter to be longer. The same holds true with
fitting tall individuals with a set of irons, a standard size
set of irons will fit most individuals between the heights of
5’ft.-7”in. all the way up to 6’ft.-4or5”in. What happens
(theoretically of course), is that as a person grows taller than
another person, his/her arms grow longer,
thus enabling their
wrists (at an upright standing position), to hang off the ground
at approximately the same distance as the shorter persons hands.
Phil Mickelson (one
of the greatest golfers on the pro tour) is a perfect example of
someone who understands the importance of having a well fitted
putter. If you haven’t seen Phil putt, then I highly
recommend that you take a moment from your busy schedule on some
weekend when Phil is playing and not only watch him on TV, but
study and analyze how he addresses and bends over the ball.
Phil is 6’ft.-3”in. tall, and when he addresses his putt, he
bends way over the ball and lets his hands hang nearly straight
down. I don’t know the length of his putter, but I
wouldn’t be surprised if it were shorter than 34” tall, on TV it
doesn’t look like the top of his putter is anymore than 6” above
his knee (television cameras can be deceiving). The point
is, “If a shorter putter will help you hold the putter more in
the meat of the grip, and allow you to get more over the ball,
keeping your arms straighter with less elbow bend, then don’t be
afraid to go to a shorter putter,” it just might help your game.
I’m not saying that elbow bend is bad,
it’s important to be comfortable, but know this, the more the
elbows are bent, the easier the tendency to allow too much wrist
action in the stroke. A good putting stroke is done with
the shoulders, not the wrists, and by letting your arms hang
down, it is easier for the shoulders & arms to engage the stroke
as a complete unit.
Go into any sporting goods store and pick
up any putter. You will find many different lengths of
putters, from 32" to as tall as the average persons chest (but
no higher than 48”in.), you will find most of them to be 35 and
34 inches tall. But one thing most of them have in common
is the lie angle, and the lie angle will probably be 72 degrees,
at least for the majority of the putters in house (the belly &
chest putters may very well be different).
How to tell if you are heeling your putter?
(see photo of “Heeled Putter” and also
figures 2 and 3).
While gripping the putter grip properly
(in the meaty portion of the grip), and your hands and arms are
comfortably in a position of making a smooth, accurate stroke
while addressing the ball, look at your putter head, is the heel
of your putter closer to the ground than the toe end of your
putter? It it is, then you are heeling the putter to the
green, hence the putter is too long or tall for you, and you
need to have it cut down. All things being equal, a heeled
putter, even though some golfers won’t believe this, is actually
aimed left of the target line (to explain why, would take us
into a huge topic, so we’ll skip that, you are welcome to do
your own research though. Study Club Fitting, loft & lie etc.).
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the ball will always go left,
some golfers may put spin on the ball and make it go the other
way etc. But all things being equal, with a true stroke,
the ball will go left of its intended line, because at address,
compounded by the loft of the club, the face/loft is now
perpendicular to a line left of where the golfer thinks he/she
Look at photo on this page labeled “Heeled
Putter”, notice how the toe of the putter is higher above the
floor than the heel? The golfer basically is addressing
the ball and is ready to putt, this is a "heeled putter".
Click to Enlarge
Now then, what would happen if the golfer
wanted to make the putter head parallel to the ground the way it
was designed? But let’s say the golfer doesn’t want to move
his/her feet closer to the ball, or extend his/her hands out, away from his/her
body? So from the photo labeled “Heeled Putter”, without moving
his feet, the golfer has to raise his hands straight up until
the putter head is parallel to the ground, see photo labeled
“Parallel Putter”. Now you can see that the putter head is
parallel to the ground/green, but the putter is nowhere near the
ball, the golfer is now standing too far away from the ball, so
now he has to move his feet in a few inches so his putter is addressing
the ball correctly. The benefit is that the golfer is now
more over the ball, in a better position to make an accurate
putt. Note: it is possible that now the putter is too long, and
needs to be cut down, to allow the arms to hang down in the
original position the golfer was comfortable in the first place.
From a healed
putter position, without
moving your feet closer to the ball, and setting
your putter parallel to the ground, this is the
Click to Enlarge
Heeling the putter
Click To Enlarge
Click To Enlarge
How to remedy heeling a putter?
There are basically two things that can be
done to remedy the heeling of your putter, without changing your
comfortable arm, shoulder, and head position.
The first solution would be to alter the lie of your club by
making it flatter. Decrease the lie from 72 degrees to 68
or 65 degrees, whatever will make the putter head parallel to
the ground (heel and toe equal distance off the green at
address). I don’t recommend this method, because it causes
other complications. If you have a 35” putter, but you
should probably be using a 33” putter, but you don’t want to cut
it down, so instead you decrease the lie to 65 degrees, what
happens is you push yourself further away from the ball, thus
not allowing your head and eyes to be over the ball where they
need to be.
The safest bet, to remedy this is to simply use a shorter
putter. If your 35” putter is so long that you heel the
putter, simply have it cut down to the proper length. This
will cure the heeling of the putter, because you will have to
stand closer to the ball, which will automatically bring the
shaft up to where the head of the putter is parallel to the
green, as it was designed to stand at ball address. The
bonus is that now, you are really on top and over your ball more
than you ever have been, and it’s a totally new feeling.
And you thought your head was always over the ball before? Now
So you see, most golfers don’t need a
putter flatter than 72 degrees, however some golfers do need a
putter that is even more upright than 72 degrees. Some
golfers like a putter that is extremely upright, like 78, or
even 80. But these are rare, they can be a good antidote though
for someone who is tall and has a bad back. You can get too
upright though, to the point that your putter is non-conforming
to USGA specifications, so there is a limit.
Why we have to charge more money for a custom shaft.
We order all of our
standard shafts pre-bent and with a 72 degree lie angle. But we
can’t get them any longer than the men’s standard full length of
35” inches, or in a different lie angle. The longer shafts
aren’t offered from our suppliers in pre-bent form. So to
fill a custom shaft order, which we are happy to do, requires
that we bring in a special shaft and bend it ourselves to your
specifications. We have to do the same thing for anyone
wanting a putter longer or taller than the standard men’s 35” or
any putter that has a lie angle different than 72 degrees.
However, as I’ve mentioned earlier on this page, 90 percent of
golfers can use a 72 degree lie angle without any problems, so
long as the length of the putter is correct.
How to measure your existing putter?
See figure 1 of this page. Hold your
putter on the ground with the putter head parallel with the
ground so as you’re not heeling or toeing the putter. In this
position, place a yardstick (or tape measure, yardstick is
better because it doesn’t have an “L” shaped hook at the end
where it will hold the zero point off the ground) along and
parallel to the shaft. Allow the yardstick to touch the ground,
and notice where the top (end) of the grip sits on the
yardstick. This is the length of your putter.
Theory of Grip Size
Grip size is very important with putters.
Grip size will effect different aspects of your putting; Lag
(distance), Accuracy (aim).
If your main concern is Lag putting
(distance), then I recommend a standard size grip. A standard
sized grip is smaller than an oversized grip, and therefore
allows you to easier feel the weight of the putter, to help you
know how hard to hit the ball. If you have a 40’ft putt, you
want the ball to stop close enough to the hole so you can easily
sink it on your next shot. Nothings worse than putting the
ball 8’-10’ft past the hole, only to miss your next putt coming
back, all because you hit the ball to hard.
If your main concern is Accuracy,
then you may want to go with an oversized grip (thicker grip).
You can’t feel the weight of a putter as well with an oversized
grip, but if does seem easier to aim. So if you’re one of those
who knows how to read the greens well, and can start your ball
on its intended line, then maybe the oversized grip is for you.
In my experience, most of the
professionals I’ve watched, use a standard size grip. To them,
they are accurate enough with anything they get their hands on,
but even more important to them is distance, and they like to
feel the weight of their putter.
Another factor is how big are your hands?
If you have gorilla sized hands, then you may want to go with
an oversized grip, but for most people, a standard size grip may
be the best way to go.
If you are still
confused, then please email me,
email@example.com, and I will
be glad to help you with your putter fitting questions.