Why is the most important club in your bag the only one that isn't fit?

(Written By: GolfSpy Matt) On MyGolfSpy, you've read countless stories about how important custom fitting is.  I've written many of these stories myself, including a shocking account of gaining 26+ yards with the driver through a custom shaft fitting.  However, most, if not all, of these stories have focused on the driver or irons.  While I wouldn't say that these clubs are not important, they certainly don't compare to the club responsible for the most strokes: the putter.  So where are the stories about custom fit putters, huh?

Why Have You Not Gotten Fit For A Putter?

Well, if we're being honest, part of the problem is that putter fitting isn't sexy.  There will never be a headline for a putter fitting story that boasts, "GAIN 26 YARDS!" At best, we can write a headline like, "4 FEWER PUTTS PER ROUND!" but even that doesn't have quite the punch of the driver story.

The other problem is that putter fitting is not regarded as a science the way driver fitting is.  Hell, probably half of the people reading this story can recite the ideal launch and spin numbers for someone with 150MPH ball speed, but what is the putter fitting equivalent of that?  If a store even offers putter fitting, the best you'll probably get is a salesman telling you to get your eyes over the golf ball.  But can they explain why?  Is there any good reason?

Shedding Light - On Getting Fit For The Putter

I'm here today to shine a little light on the subject of putter fitting, fellow spies.  And when I'm through, it is my hope that you will take a long hard look at your putter and ask, "Are you right for me?" the same way you did with your driver after you read the story of 26 more yards.

My journey towards putting enlightenment started with an obsession with putters.  I scoured the internet for information about different putter makers, models, metals, millings...mmmmm.  Like many people, I started to build up a collection of different putters, eventually amassing better than half a dozen Anser and Anser 2 style putters.  For a time I would switch putters regularly, and I putted decently, but not as well as I wanted.  Then I decided to settle down and "game" just one putter.  This was slightly better, but I still felt like I could putt better.  Then I found Bruce.

bruce rearick putter fitting

Introducing - Burnt Edge Consulting

I was first introduced to Bruce and his research through his contributions to PutterTalk.  Sometimes he would post a provocative question about putting or putters, sometimes just a thought, but either way it was always very interesting.  He was clearly someone who was thinking differently about putting, and had the facts to back up his ideas.  We traded a few emails, and then one day I got an invitation to officially become a student of Burnt Edge Consulting.  A short explanation: Bruce teaches golfers all over the world through Burnt Edge Consulting.

Putter Fitting - Delivered To Your Inbox Or Phone

For an annual fee, he helps you with both your putting and full swing.  If you are skeptical of how much he can help you without ever meeting you, that’s natural.  I can only say that I don’t know anyone who is unhappy with Bruce’s teaching, whether they’ve met him in person or not.

Over the first few months of 2012, Bruce and I have been discussing my putting and I feel that it’s helped tremendously.  I have a much-improved understanding of my stroke and why it does what it does.  While I’m not done by any means, I did feel like it was time for us to get together and fit a putter for me.  After a drive across northern Indiana, Bruce and I finally met face to face at Plymouth Country Club.

Bruce’s “putting studio” consists of a SAM Puttlab, an indoor putting green of roughly 10 feet, and a bag full of putters.  While it may not look like much, it would be foolish to judge by appearances: the fitting comes from the man behind the machine, not a fancy room.

The Putter Fitting Process

The first step in the process was determining my set up and posture, as dictated by my vision.  I’d explain it, but Bruce has already done a better job than I can here (read “Solving the Visual Puzzles of Golf”).  With that in order, Bruce had me roll some putts with my current gamer.  After I had hit a few, we sat down and he explained the Puttlab results to me.

A quick aside: If you’ve been fit on a Puttlab, you’ve probably seen the “auto-fit” screens.  Essentially, the computer acts like a high-end iPING app and tells you, for example, that your stroke has a slight arc, so you need a little toe hang.  This is perfectly fine and it beats the heck out of not being fit at all.  That said, it doesn’t stack up to a fitting with Puttlab and a person who truly understands the data.

The first thing that Bruce showed me was my putter path.  He explained that I have a left-bias and that my putter travels on a slight arc.  Based on my path, we discussed the rotational requirement for a putter that would fit me.  Bruce showed me the graph of my putter’s rate of rotation and explained that the line’s jagged movements might indicate a bad fit; ideally, the putter face would rotate in a smooth and consistent manner.

Now, a careful reader will notice the word “might” in that last sentence.  One thing that you will find in talking with Bruce is that he often won’t give you the simple answer you want.  While this can be frustrating at times, ultimately what he gives you is the information you need to make a choice for yourself.  Any reader who has ever worked with a really great teacher in any field probably understands exactly what I’m talking about.

From that point, the fitting proceeded like a fitting for any other club: we hit lots of different stuff.  We tried putters with more and less offset, longer and shorter putters, and putters with different rotational values (the “Bruce Blades”) just to see how they would impact my stroke.  In truth, Bruce knew how they would affect my stroke, but he wanted me to see it for myself.

Looking Over All The Numbers

After trying no less than half a dozen different putters and a couple different methods (a short experiment with left hand low), Bruce and I sat down and looked over all the numbers.  The conclusion that we came to was that my current gamer was a very good fit.  This wasn't overly surprising because I'd been putting well with it.

While I was happy with my putter, Bruce and I both saw that there were things that could be improved on.  We saw that among the various putters I'd tried, there was one that I aimed better than any other.  There was another putter that provided the most consistent rotation.  If only there was a way to combine all these elements into one putter...

Thankfully there is.  Bruce has formed a partnership with Byron Morgan where Bruce does the fitting and Byron builds putters to the exact specifications of the player.  Everything is customized: headshape, weight, length, lie, alignment aids, rotational value (toe hang), offset, as well as all the aesthetic stuff like finishes, paintfill, and stamping.  Bruce and I worked together to create a putter that will fit my stroke perfectly, and now I'm just waiting to have it in my hands.  I have seen some sneak preview photos and I know the putter will be magnificent.  When it comes in, it will be getting the full "Ultimate Review" which will also act as Part 2 of this putter fitting article.

Until then, fellow spies, I leave you to ponder the question we opened with: why is the most used club in your bag the least fit?

The "Bruce Blades" - Fitting Tools