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Friday, May 25, 2012
Thinking Man's Guide to Finding Your WITB: Part VII
this part, I’ll discuss the putter. Here’s a look at my putter and its
Edel Golf Columbia 3° Loft 72.5° Lie Angle 34”
Long Round Edel Putter Grip
Most golfers tend to do a very
rudimentary experiment with a putter, be it on a practice green or an indoor
practice area and if they like the looks of the putter and how it feels (and
more importantly, if they make a few putts with it), they tend to buy the putter
and bag it. The problem is that it becomes their only method of finding a putter
and it usually winds up with them purchasing a new putter every year, every
summer or even every month.
As I’ve written in other posts, when it comes
to putting I have a few tenets.
1. I want to hit each putt with the
optimal amount of speed.
2. I want to read the putt accurately as often
as I possibly can.
3. I want to aim the putt at my intended target
4. I want to roll the ball where I have aimed the putterface,
hopefully at that intended target which is hopefully an accurate read of the
That’s it. Nothing else.
I think the putter comes into play
in #1, #3 and #4. For #2, I highly recommend taking a green reading clinic thru
AimPoint Golf (www.aimpointgolf.com)
I want to hit each putt
with the optimal amount of speed.
It’s important to note that
there is a difference between ‘speed’ and ‘distance.’ Most golfers go by Dave
Pelz’s belief that the ‘optimal speed’ is a putt that travels 17” past the cup.
Well, that’s not a ‘speed’, that’s an ‘optimal distance.’
Geoff Mangum (www.puttingzone.com), the optimal speed is about 2-3 ball
revolutions per second as the ball goes into the cup. What does that look like?
Well, the ball should travel at a rate that if it were to go in, it would land
and hit the back plastic of the cup. If it hits the back dirt, that’s a speed a
little faster than optimal. If it lands on the middle of the cup, that is a
speed a little slower than optimal. Remember, speed is a rate an object travels
over time. Distance is a length.
Here’s a great video from Errol Helling
showing putts that have the same speed, but because they are aimed at different
spots, the distance past the cup changes.
Are there other factors
like stroke mechanics and green reading that can factor into optimal speed?
Sure. But in this post we are talking about the putter.
Generally, the 2
features of a putter that affect speed are loft and weight. Here’s the general
rule of thumb on those:
Faster Greens = More weight and less
Slower Greens = Less weight and more loft.
people understand the differences in loft depending upon green speed. I know
Edel offers a putter called the Vari-Loft putter that allows the golfer to alter
the loft of the putter face depending upon the green.
it can only alter the putter face by 1° from the loft you are fitted for. So, if
you are fitted for a 3° loft, then the Vari-Loft model can give the golfer a 2°,
3° or 4° lofted putter.
IMO, you really need to worry more about the loft
as to how it fits to your stroke rather than the greens you play
Edel Golf first fits for loft by seeing how the golfer aims the
putter at address. They not only want the golfer to aim the laser at the cup,
but it has to be a certain distance above the cup. Too low and they are
de-lofting the putter at address. Too much and they are adding loft to the
putter at address. This will require the golfer to make a compensation in their
stroke to hit a good putt.
The other test Edel Golf does is that they do
some distance control and consistency tests with the loft. Too much loft for the
golfer and the ball will skid, like this video shows.
From my experience with
a putter with too much loft, I just could not get the speed consistency I sought
after. Sometimes I would have too much speed or too slow of a speed, even if the
stroke was virtually the same. I’ve talked to others who feel that too much loft
makes the ball go too far offline on mis-hits.
With the weight, the idea
is that if we can properly adjust the weight, we will make it so we can have
optimal speed without having to alter our putting stroke too much. The faster
the greens, the less acceleration and putter head speed we will need to get the
ball to the cup. So, if we add weight, we can take a similar
length putting stroke and still have good speed because the putter
will travel at a slower rate. With faster greens, we need the
putter to travel at a faster rate, so we lighten the putter to allow that to
Edel also offers a Vari-Weight putter model. The Vari-Loft putter
model comes with the Vari-Weight component as well. When all is said and done,
the Vari-Loft model (with the Vari-Weight component) probably allows a golfer to
do the least amount of adjustment in their putting stroke from green to green.
However, if you’re looking for something else, then you would probably
need to find 2 putters that are the same model and have one with a higher loft
and lighter weight (slow greens) and one with a lower loft and more weight (fast
Lastly, Edel Golf fits you for the putter shaft. The idea
Wristy Strokes = stiffer shafts
Strokes = softer shafts
This is again tied in with the acceleration
profile of the putting stroke. I don’t know of any other company that has ever
fit for a putter shaft like Edel does. Personally, I have had a pretty good
touch before I owned an Edel, but the common thing I hear from readers who own
an Edel is how much their speed control has improved with these putters. I think
the combination of getting accurately fitted for the loft, weight and shaft has
helped them tremendously.
I want to aim the putt at my intended
This is the other big component of putters,
There was a study done by some European scientists
(Nilsson & Karlsen) that found that the High-MOI putters and those putters
with all of those wacky alignment lines actually make golfers aim WORSE. But the
real coup for putter makers is that the golfer actually *thinks* they aim them
better. So what I think happens is that the customer eventually junks the putter
and seeks another putter with the wacky alignment design thinking that they aim
those putters better and he just needs to find the right kind of putter to fit
I’m generally a proponent of simple putter designs because I think
golfers aim them better. In fact, according to David Orr’s study on putting
(www.orrgolf.com), 80% of golfers cannot aim straight from only 6-feet away. And
55% of the golfers aim left of the target (for righties).
I believe that
it’s due to a few factors:
1. Most golfers eye dominance is the same as
their arm dominance. So a right handed golfer is likely to be right eye
dominant. Right handed golfers who are right eye dominant, tend to have a left
2. Scotty Cameron model putters have a high amount of loft
(5°), which tends to promote a left aim bias (for righties)
3. The putter
heads today are shaped more to promote a left aim bias. Putters of yesteryear,
like Wilson 8802 would promote more of a right aim bias. So a right handed
golfer with a right eye dominance could use a Wilson 8802 and aim spot-on, time
IMO, there are a lot more putter designs that will promote a
right aim bias. The problem is that they often do not have the popular look to
them and thus golfers continue to use putters that do not fit the way they aim.
Lastly, I usually get a lot of questions about the round putter grip. I
can see to a point where the flat putter grip would be wanted so you don’t twist
the face open or closed. But, I never liked having to wonder if the flat putter
grip was perfectly aligned because if it wasn’t, it could throw me off before I
even made my putter stroke.
I want to roll the ball where I
have aimed the putterface, hopefully at that intended target which is hopefully
an accurate read of the putt.
Again, there are other factors that
come into play with this, but the putter is a factor, too. That’s why the lie
angle is important. It helps the golfer hit the sweetspot more often. The idea
behind the high MOI putters is that if you miss that sweetspot, the putter HEAD
has such a high MOI that it will reduce the twisting on off-center hits. That’s
why they also make putters ‘face balanced.’ My feeling is that you are really
promoting a situation where you can hit a decent putt off a poor stroke instead
of promoting a good stroke. The other problem is that many golfers have
difficulty aiming face balanced putters. So it doesn’t do much good to be able
to prevent twisting on off-center hits when you are aimed inaccurately to begin
I have not tried MOI-matching with the putter. I’ve been told it
doesn’t work, but I’m willing to give it a try in the