Putter Fitting 101
What was your first putter? I remember my first—a PING B60 knock-off. My grandma bought it for me in the mid-2000s. A bargain at $25. I used it from the eighth grade through high school. Memories were made with that putter, both sweet and bitter. More often, frustrating. I’m nostalgic just writing about it. I’m certain you might be, too, recalling your first. That’s the thing with putters. We form an overwhelming, everlasting bond with them. In the end, that might be our undoing, especially when it comes to shooting lower scores.
For me, times have changed. Shooting lower scores is my No. 1 goal and it should be yours. Back in 2010, when I graduated high school, I had zero comprehension of a putter fitting. It’s 2022 and there are still golfers who aren’t aware of putter fittings and the potential improvements they can produce.
This isn’t rocket science so let’s take a look at some key, simple ingredients that go into a putter fitting.
- Toe hang
- Lie angle
Picture this. You have just been exposed to the game of golf and now you have to choose a putter. Right off the bat, most beginners probably won’t know what “toe hang” is. Let’s keep it simple.
Take a putter in your hand, balance it about three-quarters of the way down the putter shaft and let gravity take over. This is a simple way for anyone to estimate what their putter’s natural toe hang is. Give it a go.
Why is toe hang important? Toe hang can have a direct impact on how efficiently one can return the putter face back to square at impact. Doing so will help your putts hit or stay on target more consistently.
Here are the five most common categories of toe hang styles:
- Full Toe Hang – Commonly found in heel-shafted blades. The toe of the putter points more directly to the ground when allowed to hang naturally.
- ¾ Toe Hang – Commonly found in blades with short and small hosels. The toe of the putter points down by about 75 degrees.
- ½ Toe Hang – This toe hang originated with the PING Anser design. It occurs with most plumber’s-neck blade putters and hangs about 45 degrees.
- ¼ Toe Hang – This toe hang can be found in both blades and mallets depending on the hosel design. The amount of toe hang is about 25 degrees.
- Face Balanced – This toe hang can also be found in both blades and mallets. The face of the putter will point directly to the sky when allowed to hang naturally.
To throw you for a loop, there are putters that do not emphasize toe hang. For example, if you don’t know your toe hang, you can opt for L.A.B. Golf. They focus on Lie Angle Balance Technology to ensure the putter face returns to square regardless of your stroke. It is an intriguing design.
At the end of the day, knowing your stroke tendencies will enable you to determine which toe hang might be best suited for you. Sure, there are technologies out there (high-speed cameras, motion sensors, etc.) that can give you precise information. But we all don’t have access to those services and tools. Grab your smartphone, have a friend record you taking a few putts and search out someone you trust to give you insight on your putting stroke. Even better, the internet surely has some insight.
Each club in your bag has loft. Your putter should have the lowest measurable loft. Most putters have a standard loft of four degrees. It doesn’t mean every putter bought off the rack is going to be the exact stated loft. We’ve seen this to be true via Most Wanted testing.
Each golfer delivers the clubhead to the ball in a variety of ways. Some with a descending blow. Some with a neutral or level blow. Others with a more positive or upwards blow. The same goes for how golfers deliver the putter to the ball. Loft plays a critical role.
In many ways, the loft of a putter dictates the launch and spin of the ball. Much like driver launch conditions, you can utilize the loft of a putter to optimize your “launch conditions.” Don’t
overestimate this. Lower loft might benefit you. Higher loft might benefit you. Putters, such as Sik Golf, have Descending Loft Technology which offers consistent launch conditions regardless of how you deliver the putter to the ball.
The length of a putter can have a significant effect on your putting, both positively and negatively.
The proper length can assist with proper wrist and arm alignments, posture, centeredness of contact, and appropriate lie angle. If you play the wrong length, all of those aspects can be negatively impacted.
When the putter is too long, it will play too upright. If it is too short, it will play too flat.
Lie angle plays a vital role in putter performance. It certainly can affect directional consistency and strike location. Most people set a putter or club down, look at it and determine that the lie angle is perfect, too upright or too flat at address. Lie angle is most important at impact.
Lie angle in an iron, driver or wedge is similar to the lie angle in a putter. It affects the initial direction. If your lie angle is off, it can have a tremendous impact on hitting your line and making putts. Get your lie angle checked out.
At the end of the day, putting is the name of the game. You can smoke bombs all day long but if you aren’t making putts, you aren’t going to score or improve. Keep It Simple, Stupid! It’s one of the sayings I’ve lived by, especially in the golfing world. It’s an overly difficult game already so take advantage of today’s technology, the vast amount of information available and get a simple grip on your putting. You can also check out our most recent Most Wanted Putter tests for blades and mallets.
Get fitted for a putter. It certainly won’t hurt you. If anything, you gain some valuable information. And remember, K.I.S.S.!