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Fitting mid/long putters

Belly Putter Length

It is imperative that the golfer get the length exactly correct on a belly putter. The reason is that the butt end of the grip is usually anchored about 1″ to 2″ above your belly button. The anchoring point height above the belly button is determined by how far over you will need to bend at the waist to get your eyes very close to over the ball. Many golfers, including some touring professionals that I have seen using the belly putter have disregarded this important golfer set-up position making it very difficult to have the best success at using it. I specifically refer to the eyes being close to over the top of the ball. If a belly putter is too long for the golfer, the golfer’s eyes move more inside of the ball as the putter’s length is increased. Think about this; if a golfer’s eyes are not directly or very close to directly over the ball, the golfer needs to add-in one more variable to properly aim the putt. That variable is an angle calculation (the golfer’s best guess) that requires a great deal of skill and practice to get right. When your eyes are over the ball you are looking (aiming) down the intended line of the putt and there is nothing else to consider (other than the break). However, when your eyes are inside the ball (toward your body) you are looking at the hole which is one line projected from your eyes to the hole, and the ball is on another line projected to the hole or the break. You need to determine where to hit the putt for proper direction (aim) based on the angle of the two lines (the ball’s target line and your sight line). Way too complicated for me and I don’t think you want to figure this out also. This was actually one of the bigger problems with the long putter when the golfer had the putter head quite a ways out from his body and not set up using the more desirable vertical pendulum stroke with the eyes more over the ball.  Here’s how to properly fit belly putter length. It is the easiest with an adjustable belly length fitting putter. With this adjustable length belly putter, you can actually have the golfer hit putts, vary the putter’s length and hit more putts until he is in the proper posture position and eye position to stroke the ball smoothly. The belly putting stroke is always a slightly inside path on the back swing (face opens slightly), to face square at impact to slightly inside (face closed slightly) on the follow through. This natural arc with the face opening, to square at impact and closing causes what the television announcers and pros refer to as “releasing” the putter at impact. This so-called releasing action requires that the golfer must also be accelerating the putter head into impact and not decelerating it. The “releasing” term is more of a golfer perceived action of proper impact relating more to a square hit and solid feel than being able to quantify a measurable stroke characteristic or putt result.

Belly Putter Lie Angle

Now that the length has been determined, it is easy for the putter fitter to set the correct lie angle, if required, by bending the putter head or shaft so that the putter’s sole is parallel with the ground during the stroke. Remember, proper lie angle is important to proper directional control of the putt. If the toe of the putter is up in the air at impact you will have a tendency to pull the putt and conversely if the toe is down at impact, the tendency will be to push the putt. Why have any of these bad variables in your putter when itis so easy to eliminate them!

Belly Putter Head Weights

Belly putters use heavier heads than conventional putters. The belly putter will not work very well with a conventionally weighted putter head. If this is the putter head that you intend to use, get ready to do some serious lead taping to increase the head weight significantly. The range for belly putterhead weights generally falls between 370 and 450 grams. I have found that around 400 to 425 grams works the best but this is not set in stone as some golfers prefer to go a little heavier. Very few golfers prefer to go much lighter than this in my experience. For reference, conventional putters are around 320 to 360 grams. Long putters are generally over 500 grams.

Long Putter Lengths

Where the top of the grip is anchored to the golfer’s body is one of the factors that will determine the length of the putter that best fits the golfer. The golfer stands very upright when using a long putter and many golfers appreciate this fact because it helps to eliminate back pain when practicing for any length of time. Fitting the proper length is simply getting the golfer in the proper posture position, eyes over the ball and measure from the grip anchoring point to the ground about 2″ out from the toe and slightly forward of the middle of the stance. This is a little general but it is a good starting point. The main thing down the road is to have the golfer feel very comfortable while addressing the golf ball. This may eventually require a length final adjustment. Most long putters will be between 46″ and 53″ in length. For comparison, belly putters are usually 38″ to 43″ and conventional putters from 30″ to 36″.

Long Putter Lie Angles

It is recommended here that the maximum legal (U.S.G.A.) lie angle be used to take as much advantage of the long putter as possible. This means that an 80° lie angle is best, but if this simply does not work out for you then you can alter this to fit your situation. To maintain the maximum lie angle would be the only time in club fitting where you would possibly alter the ball position in or out at address and possibly even the length of the putter to get the lie angle correct. Long putters are a different animal and need to be treated as such. You simply work at trading off specifications and/or set up until the putter sits right, the golfer is comfortable and the lie angle remains at the maximum. Sounds funny, but this works very well. Keep in mind that when fitting long putters they are very individual and golfer specific to maximize the benefits that you are looking for or the problems in putting you are trying to correct.





2 responses

  1. Can we develop a chin putter?

    November 30, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    • smcclure70

      Can’t be greater than 80 degree lie angle to conform to USGA rules.

      November 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm

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