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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Did You Catch This Putting Tip on NBC Saturday?

During their broadcast of the Valero Texas Open on Saturday, NBC very casually tossed out some putting information that may help many of you who have trouble getting your putts on line.

While showing Zach Johnson having some trouble making putts, the announcers mentioned that Zach was trying out a new putter in which he said he was gaining confidence... but NBC showed him missing crucial putts on three successive holes. And Notah Begay III mentioned that Zach's new putter was an offset putter and that hitting putts to the left was a common problem when switching from a straight putter.

Odyssey Works Versa #1 Putter The first thing you need to understand is the difference between a straight and an offset putter. To the right you'll see a photo of an Odyssey Works Versa #1 Putter, which is an offset putter. See the angle in the hosel, that makes the shaft point at the ground in front of the putter face? That's the offset.

And, obviously, a straight putter has a shaft that goes directly into the putter head without any angles.

Notah was speaking about righthanders, so let me rephrase what he said so it applies to anybody:
  • If you switch from a straight putter to an offset putter, it's not unusual to start pulling your putts.
  • And, by the same logic, if you switch from an offset putter to a straight putter, it's not unusual to start pushing your putts.
Or, as an article on putter fitting at PGA.com puts it:
The final two factors, loft and offset, are interrelated. The loft being the angle of pitch on the face of the club and offset being the amount the face of the putter is set back from the shaft of the club. The loft and offset affect the roll of the golf ball and, most importantly, how the player aims the face of the putter...
The combination of loft and offset's effect on aim has to do with how an individual's eyes function. The way a person's eyes work together influence how he sees the face of the putter relative to the target line at address. If a person tends to aim left he should have a putter with less loft and or offset. A putter with more loft and offset will help a person whose tendency is to aim too much to the right.
While the offset of a preexisting putter cannot typically be changed, the loft of the putter is normally very easy to change using a loft and lie machine.
That's some important information to know. If you're having trouble getting your putts on line, it may not be your mechanics that are at fault. Rather, the offset (or lack of) on your putter may be affecting the way you aim and you don't even know it!

As the article states, there's not much you can do about offset; it's not usually adjustable. Short of buying a new putter, you might want to try changing your address position a bit. If you have an offset putter and you're pulling your putts, you might try moving the ball back slightly in your stance.

Likewise, if you have a straight putter and you're pushing your putts, you might try moving the ball slightly forward in your stance.

You might also try one of Martin Hall's putter alignment tricks: Put a yardstick down on the ground, pointing it toward the "hole" (which might just be a target if you're practicing indoors). Use the flat end of the yardstick which is farthest from your target as the "ball," and practice addressing it so that the face of the putter is flat against the end of the yardstick. If you're having this problem, you'll find out very quickly.

The important thing to learn here is that putting problems aren't automatically caused by poor putting mechanics. You may simply have a putter that's hard for you to aim... and that's one of the rare times when you can actually buy an improvement in your game.

2 comments:

  1. I currently pull putts with a straight mallet

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  2. Phil, does the shaft enter the head at the heel or the middle of the putter face? And do you try to open and close the face (a la Utley) or keep it square throughout the stroke (like Pelz)?

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