Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Search for Flatstick Nirvana - Part IV (9.8.15)

Part I

Part II

Part III

Whenever I’m learning something new in golf and trying to improve, I find that it works best if I can determine why I was successful in the past and why I was unsuccessful in the past.

First, I wanted to get into basics of putting. Not only working on some basic principles of the stroke (particularly focusing on the launch direction), but getting a very ‘basic’ looking putter.

I was looking for an Anser style head, with a head weight of 350-360 grams, with a standard offset plumber’s neck along with an alignment line in the flange and a something that was 35 inches long. I also wanted something in a black head.

With that, I purchased a TaylorMade Ghost Daytona Black Tour putter.

The TM Ghost Daytona Black Tour putter is spec’d at 355 grams of putter head weight, but the putter head actually measured in at 357 grams (usually there is a +/- 2 gram tolerance for head weight for OEM’s). I had the lie angle at 71* with the putter being 35” long.

However, looks isn’t the only thing that matters for me, I’m also interested in feel. And that is not only about contact feel, but the heft of the putter and the grip. I was a big fan of the old Wilson 8802 putter I had (once again, it was stolen out of my bag one day and I could never find another replacement that felt like it). What I knew about the 8802 was that it had a head weight of around 335 grams. The shaft, raw and un-cut was about 125 grams and the leather Neumann grip was about 60 grams.

That creates a shaft+grip to putter head weight of about 55%:

(60 gram grip weight + 125 gram un-cut shaft weight) / 335 gram head weight = 55%

Today’s putters have much heavier head weights, but the shaft weight has stayed the same. And if you want the same grip, the grip stays the same. So with that, the Daytona Ghost Tour Black would have a shaft+grip to putter head weight of 51%:

(60 gram grip weight + 125 gram un-cut shaft weight) / 357 gram head weight = 51%

A lot of companies are going to a counterbalancing method and it has worked wonders for some golfers. My issue is that there is too much of the weight being put on the grip end instead of being more evenly distribute thru the shaft. So I was more interested in seeing how a heavier shaft would play out instead of counterbalancing the putter. With that, I decided to take a look at the Nippon putter shaft. They have 2 models, a 136 gram and 149 gram model. I chose the 136 gram because along with the GripMaster USA leather grip (weighs 62 grams), it would get the balance of the shaft+grip versus putter head weight to 55%.

I also decided to purchase the old Ping B61 putter off of eBay. I wanted to remove the head so I could see what the components weighed. Only one problem…the old Ping putters had a ball bearing at the tip of the shaft to keep the shaft in place and I couldn’t remove it. I sent it to the PGA Tour Superstore where they informed me about the ball bearing in place and they couldn’t remove the head either. I was told to send it to Ping if I want the head removed.

I then started practicing more with the Pelz Putting Tutor and found that I was more likely to hit it thru the marble gate with the Ping B61 than the TaylorMade Ghost putter. The problem with the B61 was the following:

-  It felt too light
-  It’s old and a little nicked up
-  It doesn’t have the greatest contact feel

However, it was launching the ball in the best direction. The TaylorMade Ghost putter had a nicer feel and I really like the feel of the leather grip. This led me to conclude that I like a firmer feeling putter grip with some tack to it. Makes sense as I could never get into those spongier grips like Winn or SuperStroke.

And I liked the feel of the Nippon putter shaft. But, I think in the end between how light the Ping B61 putter felt, the Wilson 8802 being only 335 grams in head weight and the hosels of the 8802 and B61 being more towards the heel…I started to see that I performed better with lighter putter heads and the hosel more towards the heel.

I still continued to work with the TaylorMade Ghost putter. And I still had some issues with using that putter and using the Putting Tutor aid. Mainly, I would tend to close the putter face and/or yank the putter head inward right at impact instead of moving the putter head right down the line.

I did notice that my eyes were not over the ball with the putter. I had discussed some of this with golf instructor and friend, Justin Blazer ( and how that affects aiming. I’m not a big fan of making it mandatory to have the eyes over the ball putting. I tend to concur with Geoff Mangum on the eyeballs should be pointing in the same direction as the person’s face. But, I started to conclude that for me and my putting stroke, I was better off having the eyes over the ball. Thankfully, the Putting Tutor has lines that help you figure out if you’re too close or too far away from the ball.

I started to lean the torso over more to get the eyes over the ball and my performance on the Putting Tutor improved quite a bit. The problem was taking it out to the course as I started to hit putts off the toe more often. It doesn’t help that this is the worst time for golf course conditions in the state of Florida because of the humidity and the rain. But, the search for flatstick nirvana continued…



Tony said...

Hi Richie, thanks for the post. A few comments.... a) you can get the ball bearing out of the Ping putter head by drilling in the bottom of the head and punching out the ball bearing from the bottom of the head, b) True Temper used to make a 200 gram putter shaft, the T2C, I know at least one fitter who bought a lot of these and loves using them in putters....too bad not available any more, and c) but another option you can try is to pour sand down the shaft of the putter to bring up the "effective" putter shaft weight and see if that improves feel. Tony

Joe Duffer said...

Your 8802 must not have been an early model (1963-1970)... as they were much lighter than 335g.

Jp said...

Piretti potenza 2. Look no further.

Hope you find what you're looking for.

Joe Duffer said...

Richie, the headweight of the classic/early 8802's was between 10.5 and 11 ounces (298g to 312g).

The overall length of these early Wilson putters is 35.5"

BTW, "Little Ben" is 312g an slightly over 34"

*Robert Mendralla gave me this details.

I still have several of the early 8802/8813's if you want to talk...


Rosemary Bailey said...

I think that method works whenever I'm trying to improve in any area of life. I don't see how we can hope to do better if we don't identity what we were doing wrong in the first place. I know that by identifying what I did right, I can build a foundation for success. I think you'll eventually find the putter that works for you.

Rosemary Bailey @ Wabi Iron & Steel Corp.