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The Putter Fitting – Why Most Golfers Will Never Improve

Post image for The Putter Fitting – Why Most Golfers Will Never Improve

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

Comments

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Golf Software September 5, 2012 at 4:02 am

Thanks for the article and hope to read from you again. GolfSpy, What motivated you to call this blog “The Putter Fitting – Why Most Golfers Will Never Improve”, not that the title does not go with the content, I am just wondering. Great job GolfSpy.

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Dave July 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm

The humble putter does not have the mass appeal of the driver but getting fitted for a putter is the quickest way to save shots. In a normal round a player will hit a maximum of 14 drives; in a stellar putting round a player will hit 28 putts!

Players interested in improving their putting should check out retrofitable weights and dampeners like Balance certified weights and Dave Hicks Got the VIBE.

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jmiller065 July 30, 2012 at 6:41 am

What is the point of “retro-fit-able weights and dampeners” if you get your fitting done by a professional and buy the right style of putter and head weight the first time?

Dave posting about “Dave Hicks Got the VIBE”? Coincidence, maybe likely hood is that is your product and this is a sneaky way to post an advertisement.

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Dave July 30, 2012 at 7:58 am

No advert, I am not Dave Hicks and yes fitting comes first, including lie, length, putter type, offset and alignment type. I just posted the comment to show that there is a lot of technology available to help with putting. It is also much cheaper than the high end shafts people like to fit to their drivers!

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jmiller065 July 29, 2012 at 6:05 am

I am also a student that Bruce has taken under his wing so to speak. I got referred by Matt, as I got my curiosity sparked by him making MyGolfSpy forum posts about working with Bruce on putting. I always felt I was a very streaky putter and struggled on “slow greens”. I learned a ton about my stroke as many other have and just a ton about putting. There is not a great ton of really good information on putting out there and Bruce I think is a vault of information waiting to be unlocked. Let me give a little background on my experience in working with Bruce thus far, the journey for me is far from over.

Bruce is anything but a “one fit all instructor”, he is the exact opposite and only encourages small changes of what you currently have to work with. I have looked at so many swing methods that supposedly are the best for everyone but I feel that golf is not straight forward and golf is not one fit all. WE started out with putting and doing am ini fitting I learned about MY stroke and how to optimize MY stroke.

I quickly started to show progress and new information started to slow down on putting, so I wanted to make the leap over to the full swing. As Bruce did with putting he sent me an initial PDF about the full swing. We got under way, I was not happy with my consistency in my accuracy even though my contact was very good. I think I might have got Bruce fired up about a few topics at times in our conversations about the full swing, he seemed very passionate in setting me straight in my opinions or statements.

There was one specific set of e-mails I still remember without reading them, he came back with a response that was truthful and blunt. However, he apologized that it might have sounded harsh after his responses. I laughed right after I read it. The response wasn’t harsh at all, just honest and the blunt truth, you have to have an unfiltered truth to get really good constructive criticism. I know that I would not be the golfer that I stand right now and my journey is far from over. With more hard work and fine tune adjustments eventually my game will get where I want it to go consistently.

I started with Bruce 5 months ago as a shaky putter and shaky accuracy in the full swing and a 9 handicap. I now stand as a solid consistent 4 to 5 handicap, and feel that I am on the edge of getting way way lower. I got my feel and thoughts realized of my potential shooting my best 9 hole round of my career thus far, a bogey free 3 under 33 at Duke University G.C. from the tips on 1.5 week old punched bumpy greens. For coming out after work completely cold no warm up I say that is one really great score.

I most say I know that I would never have made this much progress in 5 to 6 months without Bruce’s help. Thank you Bruce I have enjoyed the journey thus far and can’t wait to see what is to come in the future.

Regards,
J

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