Over 95% of you (amateur golfers) have never been fit for a putter. Shocked? Probably not.
What if I told you that over 85% of the top PGA industry professionals (the guys supposed to be fitting you) have never been fit for a putter. Shocked now? You should be.
Those two stats and a trip to the PING Golf Headquarters were the perfect formula for our latest installment of MyGolfSpy Labs. We asked the PING R&D team two simple questions: A) Do putter fittings make a difference for the average golfer? B) How do we make this test happen to once and for all find out that answer.
MGS Labs In Partnership with PING
We wanted to quantify the benefits of putter fitting and how much difference a properly fit putter could really make for the average golfer. With all the variables (length, lie, stroke, weight, alignment, loft and head shape) it had to make a difference…right?
To figure that and much more out, we partnered with the team at PING. They then conducted a study designed to help us get a better sense of what percentage of golfers are playing a putter that’s less than ideally fit, and whether properly fitting them for a new putter would actually improve performance.
The 2-Part MGS/PING Lab Test
Over the next two days we’ll look at the results of this cooperative study between MyGolfSpy & PING Golf.
PART 1: What did our study participants bring with them, and how different was it from the putter each golfer was eventually fit into?
PART 2: We’ll compare the results of the performance tests conducted before & after each fitting.
The aim of this test is to investigate the effects of a putter fitting on performance.
20 golfers were recruited for a VIP putter fitting.
Prior to being selected for and included in the test, participants were screened to ensure no industry affiliation. Additional requirements include:
- Must play at least 1-2x per month
- Must not have had a putter fitting within the last 12 months
- Must not currently be playing a belly or long putter
A range of ability levels was represented in the test.
Players were asked to bring his or her current gamer (having never gone through a proper putter fitting).
Testers hit (10) 5′ putts at a hole on the putting green and the make/miss location was recorded.
(10) 25′ putts were performed on PING’s granite table putting surface with the overhead cameras capturing the dispersion of the session.
Finally, players took part in an iPing session.
Player were then put through a full putter fitting. Once completed, the fitter altered the putter (if needed) to match the specs found from the fitting.
With the correct putter, the player then performed the same three tests as done at the beginning of the test (5′ putts at hole, 25′ on the table, and iping session)
The above chart details how many changes (stroke type, loft, and lie) were made per golfer during the PING fitting sessions. 14 of 20 testers (70%) required 3 changes, while only 1 golfer required no changes. On average, the golfers in this test required 2.6 changes.
The chart looks at the sum total of changes made broken down by the type of change. As you can see, the testers (all of whom had not been fit for their putters) required multiple adjustments. Most noteworthy is the fact that 90% of those in the study were fit into putters with different lofts, and 90% were fit into putters with different lie angles.
Even in the categories where the fewest changes were recommended, 70% of those in the study still required a change in spec.
FYI – Aliment refers to the sight lines/aliment aids on the putter itself.
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.
While these results are specific to the PING line, you should be able to translate to other manufacturer’s offerings. Of the 20 testers, 8 were ultimately fit into PING’s popular Ketsch mallet. Not surprisingly, variations of the Anser-style blade were appropriate for 5 of the testers, while the remaining 7 were split between other mallets, mid mallets, and other blade designs like the Zing.
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.
Take a look at PART II and take a closer look at whether or not these putter fittings had any measurable improvement on putting performance.