Last week, TaylorMade Golf whisked me away to San Diego to learn about their 2015 lineup, get custom fitted for new sticks and play Torrey Pines. As you can imagine, when I got the invite I was all like, “Oh, ok, twist my arm, why don’t ya?”
The trip was AWESOME — I think that was evident by all the tweets I sent — but a few things really sunk in while I was getting fit. The first was how much technology has changed when it comes to customizing your irons to fit your swing; last time I was fit for new irons (2004) I hit a few shots off of a plastic board and some idiot at Edwin Watts told me my swing was perfect for stock clubs with a stiff shaft. I took what he said as fact because he showered me with compliments. Since then, I have bought a few sets of clubs and I never bothered to get fit for any of them. Why would I bother with that nonsense? MY SWING IS PERFECT, just ask that dolt from Edwin Watts.
Long story short:
Swing = Not perfect.
Me = Boycotter of Edwin Watts.
New clubs = 1-degree upright.
Scores = Lower.
The second thing I realized during my club fitting in San Diego was that I have only ever bought a putter based on hitting a few putts on a 10X10 slice of astroturf in a Golfsmith. Hell, sometimes I didn’t even do that. Like a lot of people, I’d see a sexy new putter on TV and just buy it without ever testing it. The commercial says it’s great, WHAT CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
Point is, I never knew there was more to a putter purchase than testing them out and then choosing the one you like to look down at the most. Comfort, of course, is a factor, but there’s so much more to it. Lots more, in fact. So after my own fitting, I decided to ask Clay Long, TaylorMade’s Senior Director of Product Creation – Putter/Wedge, about what amateurs should be looking for the next time they buy a new flat stick.
Q: Putting saves us the most strokes on the course, why is it that most amateurs don’t think twice about getting fitted for a putter that fits their game?
Clay Long: Generally your stroke engrains compensations for your alignment and any problems associated with an ill fit putter. Consequently changing a putter type and spec to better accommodate a player produces gradual improvement along with some practice. Rarely immediate improvement, thus the problem.
Q: When trying to determine what putter best fits them, what key factors should an amateur consider at other than “liking how a putter looks”?
1. Alignment, how well you can point a particular design where you intend to. 2. How well the balance ( toe hang, offset) returns the putter to square in the stroke. 3. Lie 4. Length 5. Weight. But comfort is critical for sure.
Q: How does a player’s stroke path help determine what kind of putter they should use? For instance, I recently learned that my path– which is more of an arch than straight-back, straight-through — is better suited for a blade putter than the comically large mallet I like looking down at.
It’s a rule of thumb but it’s not correct in all cases. For instance: say your misses were right and you used a face balanced mallet. A toe down blade might increase your push, if your miss was left, then toe down might help. Generally though your fitting was correct but a fitter must be looking at all the factors that might improve your putting.
Q: What other advice can you offer to a player who is looking for a new putter and unsure about what one will best suit his game?
First, get some advice from a qualified PGA professional or a fitter. Then go to a store and try some different types, keeping in mind what your fitter has enlightened you to. See if you think it is helping or feeling better, or better yet does it make sense if you work on it a bit. Then go back to your fitter and get them to dial your decision in for you.