It is often said that putting is a game within a game, and there is some truth to that. While most of us may never hit 300 yards drives, anyone can be a good or even great putter. All it takes is a combination of good technique and having a putter that fits your stroke.
Many times, golfers manipulate themselves around a putter that doesn’t fit. Instead, we want to manipulate the putter to fit the golfer. The first step is to establish good posture. This includes your hands hanging directly beneath your shoulders, having the putter shaft in a straight line with your forearms, and your eyeline parallel to the target line.
After great posture is established, the proper length putter will position your eyes directly over the ball. If the putter is too long, your eyes will be to the inside of the target line.
Conversely, if the putter is too short your eyes will end up outside the target line. Having your eyes over the target line makes it much easier to aim properly.
Just like with your irons, the lie angle of the putter is important. If the putter is too upright, the toe will be up in the air, and you will tend to miss to the left. A putter that is too flat will cause pushes to the right.
There are 3 different types of putting strokes—square to square, in-to-in (the arc stroke), and in-to-out. There are different styles of putters that match each of these strokes. A face balanced putter will work better with a square to square stroke. A putter with “toe hang”, or an Anser style putter, will work best with the arc stroke, and blade putters are built for players using an in-to-out stroke.
Many golfers don’t understand that putters have loft. When the ball rests on the green, it creates a little depression that the ball rests in. Loft is necessary to get the ball out of that depression and rolling on top of the grass. However, too much loft will cause the ball to jump in the air and bounce, and in many cases have backspin. Not enough loft will drive the ball into the ground, and who knows what direction the ball will go. In both cases distance control is difficult at best.
Determining the proper loft is tricky, because everybody has a different stroke, and a different amount of “shaft lean”. We know that at impact you need 3 to 3.5 degrees of loft to achieve the proper roll. Phil Mickelson has a dramatic forward press, which de-lofts the putter. Therefore, he needs more loft on his putter. Other players, without the forward press, will need less loft.
Like I said in the beginning, with good fundamentals and a putter that fits, anyone can be a great putter. Putter fitting is often overlooked, but in terms of lowering your scores it might be the best thing you can do.