Getting properly fit for a putter is a great way to raise your putting game, but it’s important to know the philosophy of the person doing the fitting.
Indeed, if the fitter believes in putting “fundamentals” that don’t square with your own, then you might get an “unfit” putter. For example, if the fitter embraces the notion that your eyes should be directly over the ball at address, the fit will be different than if the fitter rejects that notion.
On that note, we today continue our series featuring leading putting instructor Pat O’Brien, whose teachings are sometimes at odds with the so-called “rules” of putting.
Click here for the first part in the series, where he discusses why he advocates a more upright setup; and click here for the second part in the series, where he talks about how such a setup affects the length of your putter.
Since that second story, Pat has addressed this topic in his Pat O’Brien: Tour Proven Golf Lessons blog, providing excellent visual commentary on his own approach to putting and fitting. We encourage you to visit the blog to see the full suite of photos in his post titled “What I Look for in A Fitting.”
In the following excerpt from story, Pat discusses how a spine angle of 45 degrees (as pictured above) is crucial to his teaching:
My eyes are on the heel of the putter, my hands are hanging perfectly underneath my shoulders and my spine angle is a comfortable, athletic 45 degrees. I am free to move and the putter will swing on the correct arc because it is designed to. All I need from here is a good grip and good alignment, and then get out of the way!
Note that he says his eyes are over the heel of the putter, not over the ball. In other words, they are inside the target line. So much for “eyes over the ball.”
Now here’s the rub. If you subscribe to this type of setup, it will naturally change the length of your ideal putter, because your hands will be farther from the ground than they would be if you were more tilted in your setup.
There’s a simplistic buzz out there that says “putter fitting = good,” as if all you need to do is find a putter fitting professional and off you go. Well, not so fast, as we’ve learned here.
It’s not a matter of whether or not you subscribe to Pat O’Brien’s (or any other instructor’s) approach. It’s simply about knowing which approach you subscribe to, and making sure that the fitter either honors that approach, or gives you a very good reason to change it.
Pat O’Brien is the putting instructor to Zach Johnson (pictured above with Pat), Vaughn Taylor and other PGA Tour professionals. He is also a consultant to the SeeMore Putter Company. Pat advocates a natural, fairly upright posture; a grip that places the putter in the fingers; and a stroke that moves on a natural arc. For more information on Pat’s approach, visit his excellent blog at www.patobriengolf.com.