If you’re like most golfers, you invest a lot of time trying to figure out what hot new putter technology is right for you. You explore all of the different brands and styles. Then, once you’ve decided on your model, the rest is allegedly easy—you grab the nearest one off the shelf with a “standard” 35-inch length and hit the greens.
There’s only one problem with this approach: there really is no standard. Even the notion that “the taller you are, the longer your putter” is questionable, as arm length is a crucial factor in finding the right fit. For example, my height is the national average for men, yet my arms are a bit short for my size. Thus I require a slightly longer putter at setup than most folks my height.
As Geoff Mangum, top putting instructor and historian, states on his web site: “Does anyone recall the advice that the golfer
Mangum and leading instructor Todd Sones both recommend generally shorter shaft lengths than what’s historically been considered standard for most people—but both also emphasize the importance of getting professionally fit to ensure the right length for you and your ideal setup.
Sones is also the founder of Coutour Golf, which specializes in high-quality, custom-fit milled putters (pictured here). On the Coutour Golf web site, you can enter your measurements to get fit online, and you can also watch a magnificent video about the fitting process.
Sones and Mangum are far from alone. According Frankly Golf, which was founded by Golf Digest Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas, “There have been trends toward shorter putters, allowing one to keep the arms straighter.” Thus, the shift is toward 34 inches average for men and 33 inches average for women.
Not surprisingly, Frankly Golf offers its Frog Putters in custom lengths. Similarly, the red-hot SeeMore Putter Company, which launched its mSeries putters earlier this year under new ownership, offers its putters in half-inch length increments.
In other words, it’s becoming clear that the new standard in putter length is that there is no standard. And the future resides in custom fitting.
But don’t take a hacksaw to your favorite putter just yet. It’s quite possible that 35 inches is right for you after all, depending on your physique and comfort zone. Also, shortening an existing putter can cause swing weight issues. The point here isn’t to undermine your confidence in your existing putter, but rather to simply reinforce the importance of personal fitting the next time you’re in the market for a new one.