The #1 Club In Your Bag
By Glen Coombe, The Putting Doctor
As the title suggests the number one club in your bag is the most important. But it’s not the club that resides under the head cover with #1 on it. The #1 club in your golf bag is of course the oft maligned and most overlooked putter. No other club gets the workout that the putter gets. The only equipment that gets more use is the golf ball and it can be replaced with new through the round as required.
The putter has been the “red headed step child” of golfers and the golf industry almost since the game began. The putter is used for over 40% of all shots in the round and the proper use of the flat stick will result in lower scores and handicaps.
If a 275 yard drive counts as a single stroke as does a 1 foot putt I’m sure all will agree that the 1 foot putt is more critical. The drive we know has to be hit again, but we certainly don’t want to have to replay a 1 foot putt.
While most players today are wisely looking more and more to custom fit clubs there still seems to be a resistance to custom fitting a putter. How many students do you have who have a custom fit driver with a high quality spine aligned shaft who still are playing with a putter bought off the rack, we won’t even delve into the off the rack iron sets?
Proper putter fit is far more important, in this writer’s eyes, than is any other club in the bag. If we explore putter fitting what should we look for? First we need to have the student in a setup position that allows them to perform to optimum benefit. This position I suggest to my players is athletic in nature. The athletic posture will find the balance move up into the quadriceps and will almost echo that of someone on a free throw line in basketball. This position moves the weight forward on the feet and anchors the athlete to the surface where wind and slope will have less effect on execution. This posture results in a little more knee bend for most and in this regard lowers the player in height over all. With arms in supple hanging position we begin to see the true length of putter now required is much shorter than previously thought. Finding the proper length is now relative to the athletic posture we’ve built. Note that a putter that is too long will result in a more gated path.
I would suggest that time be spent testing the student athlete for a putter head shape and hosel offset that helps them to aim best at address. We’ll explore aim at address and impact more in-depth at a later date. One thing most putting gurus will agree upon is that we all “see” differently. This often seems to be related to eye dominance. And can be a product of eye position relative to the ball at address.
Using a laser placed squarely against the putter face and aimed at an aim board at ten feet will soon reveal the correct configuration of putter the student aims best with. During a putting fitting I offer up five or six configurations and switch randomly between them until we keep coming back to the putter which aims best. With the solid foundation made at address the subconscious will begin to correct any former tendencies to overcome the faulty aim of the past.
Only now that we’ve found the true fit of the putter can we begin to analyze the natural tendencies of the putting stroke employed by the student. As an instructor I do not teach method per se but try to work with the student’s natural putting stroke once everything has been fit appropriately. Like the full swing the emphasis should always be on fundamentals and focused practice. Student athletes wishing to advance to higher proficiency levels must use focused practice routines on the practice green just as they would on the practice range.
There are a few very good putter fitting systems available, my personal favorite is that which has been developed by Science and Motion Sports of Germany. Their Putting Concepts fitting system is a stand alone system which also interfaces with their SAM PuttLab 2010 system. SAM 2010 now includes a putter fitting module to further enhance the state of the art in putting analysis, training and now putter fitting.
For more information regarding Science and Motion Sports, SAM PuttLab and Putting Concepts please email GlenCoombe@PuttingDoctor.net .
Glen Coombe is the author and copyright holder of The Money Back Guarantee Putting Lesson© and The Money Back Guarantee Putting Experience© clinic. Glen is an associate member of GCAA. Visit his web site at http://puttingdoctor.net .
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