The weight of your putter is one thing, but its swingweight is quite another. The actual weight of your putter head is fixed, but the swingweight is fluid, depending on the length of your putter—and it can make a big difference in your game.
Say you stab an apple with a four-foot spear and swing it around. Now, chop the spear in half and swing it around. Your sensation of control over the apple will change dramatically. In other words, the apple still weighs the same, but the swingweight of the spear has been altered.
According to Todd Sones, a Top 100 instructor and founder of Coutour Golf: “Swingweight is the most overlooked aspect of putter fitting, mainly because it is not visible. Swingweight has to do with feel. It is the feel of the putter head as it swings. Swingweight influences the distance the putter travels on the back-and-forth stroke. It influences tempo as well as the path the putter head swings.”
So why does that matter to you? Well, as PutterZone.com has noted, there is a shift toward shorter putters as the “standard” of 35 inches for men is questioned by many top instructors and even manufacturers. But if you simply want to shorten your putter by cutting the shaft down, or even just gripping down on your putter, beware the laws of swingweight.
As Sones says: “Ultimately, if you have shortened your putter or even grip down on your putter by one inch, you decrease it’s swingweight by six points or 12 grams of weight. Six swingweights is enough to drastically change the feel of your putter, your tempo and your stroke.
Some manufacturers don’t account for swingweight changes, using the same head for a 34-inch putter as they do for a 35-inch putter. That doesn’t mean there is something verifiably wrong with one or the other, but it does mean that they will feel differently—an interesting prospect considering how important “feel” is to successful putting.
This is why Coutour Golf and some other manufacturers make the same heads in different weights (or offer personal adjustable weighting systems). As Sones said in an earlier interview with PutterZone.com: “When you make a custom putter, you not only need to make it a length that fits the player’s body, but you have to make it the gram weight that maintains the proper swing weight. That’s why at Coutour Golf we have 335, 350 and 365 gram heads, which are matched to different lengths.”
So when it comes to your own putter, you should (1) be aware of swingweight and how it can affect your game; (2) understand that shortening an existing putter or gripping down on a putter will change its swingweight; and (3) investigate a manufacturer’s approach to swingweight when you are in the market for a new putter.
P.S. Portions of this piece are excerpted from PutterZone.com’s Ultimate Putter Buyer’s Guide ($5), a groundbreaking e-booklet designed to empower you with crucial fitting information before you spend big bucks on a putter. Click here for more information.