For the most part, I’ve putted pretty well this year. Pretty good, not great. So I really wanted to do a putter fitting to see if I could move toward great. Not so much to find a brand new putter, but to see if there was something I might do with my existing equipment or lie or grip selection or setup to make my putting stroke better, more consistent. (I was open to buying a brand new putter if the results were clearly worth it, however.)
I have three putters that I switch in and out of my line-up: two face-balanced mallet style putters, a Ping Redwood and a PXG Mini Gunboat, and a really old Scotty Cameron Newport with just a bit of toe-hang. All are about the same length. All three have a standard sized rubber pistol grip of different brands.
Scott and I started the session talking about what I hoped to accomplish by coming in. I said I was looking for some tweaks or ideas in either equipment or process to better what I have been doing. I told him what I feel like I’m doing, where I think I’m good (longer putts) and where I could do better (3-5 footers). So he put a ball down on the spot in front of the computerized SAM Lab equipment, and I started rolling putts with my current gamer, the Ping Redwood.
I missed the first one, and he noticed something right off: he said my chin was down at setup and it blocked a proper release. At his instruction, I lifted my chin which raised my overall posture. Then I made five in a row.
The position of my chin is one of those things that I would have never noticed myself, nor thought about on my own.
I missed a couple after the hot streak, at which point Scotty noticed something else: my ball position had crept forward after about the 7th putt I rolled. Once I moved the ball back to center, in they went again.
I then tested my Newport, and the putts-made results were pretty similar. But the Redwood has always had a more pleasing feel to me at impact, so a slight nod to the Ping remained.
Then I hit some putts with the PXG. The lie of that putter is more flat than the others, and Scotty noticed it immediately. He put it into the putter loft/lie machine that sits in the room (specific to putters, not the same machine you’d use to bend irons and wedges) and he gave it a tweak. Bingo. But he also noticed that because there is a tiny bit more offset to that putter, my alignment setup was slightly left. Moving my hands a tiny bit forward at setup corrected my alignment without needing to make any type of path/stroke compensation.
Then Scotty went to the rack and handed me a beautiful Evnroll putter in a wide blade style, but with a plumbers neck for face-balance. It rolled perfectly and fit my stroke. The weight of it was spot on. But for all of its beauty and style, it would have been a vanity purchase instead of a need purchase, because I already own putters that worked in the same manner. (Not slamming vanity purchases, mind you; if you have the jack, fill the rack!)
Then we started talking about my pre-shot routine — something I’ve never fully implemented in all of my years of playing. We talked about this process for at least 15-20 minutes and even went down to Windmill Golf Center’s basement putting green (if you haven’t been down there, it’s fantastic) to work on ideas at different distances. Together, we created a simplified pre-shot process that I’m now going to work to ingrain.
The reality of this putter fitting (lesson? discussion? testing?): we didn’t really use the SAM much at all. It was there and turned on, but Scotty’s eyes are a human version of SAM. He was seeing the same things the machine was reading, but he speaks English, mostly. So the tech confirmations are there, but the human element is just as important.
Bottom line: if you’ve never done a putter fitting, it’s truly worth an hour and the $125 (an amount that’s discounted significantly if you buy a putter). Scotty knows exactly what he’s doing; he’s a knowledgeable expert and a great guy to talk through whatever you are thinking/feeling about putting.
More importantly, I never felt any pressure to buy a new putter — especially since the putters I have were all in the ballpark for my body and move. Scott was more than willing to tweak the equipment I had to better match my stroke. But if I wanted a brand new putter, there are hundreds of them from all the top brands sitting in the SAM Lab room, all sparkly and new, waiting to be put through their paces.
To schedule a putter fitting appointment with Scott Galayde, call Windmill Golf Center at 330-467-6425. It’s all indoors, and it’s a long winter. So the months ahead are a perfect time to schedule a fitting…