So it looks like we may have a prohibitive favorite going into Augusta! Nevermind that Phil Mickelson already has three green jackets, his play this past week in Houston says he is primed to go for his fourth.
As I watched Phil's dominance over the weekend (what would you call 63-65?), I couldn't help but notice that when Phil's putter is on, he's virtually unstoppable. Yes, he has a ton of talent and can execute virtually any shot, but you don't shoot those low numbers, and tie the course record and set a new tournamnet record, without being 100 percent confident in your putter. And of course, to score well, you need to putt well, at every level.
And the thing about putting is - anyone can do it! You may never smash a 340 yard drive like Bubba Watson or hit a Phil Mickelson flop shot to an inch of the hole, but anyone that can stand up has the ability to sink a ten foot putt. So what I find so intriguing (and frustrating as an instructor) is that so many players, despite the fact that 40 percent of your score is made on the green, spend the least amount of time and money considering this vital piece of equipment.
Virtually every Tour player is fit to their putter. But almost no amateur players do that! The average height of a PGA Tour player today is 6' and he uses a 33.5 inch putter on average. You guys are using a 35 inch putter on average because that is the "standard" putter. A properly fit putter will allow you to set up with your hips over your ankles, your hands under your shoulders with a little bend in the elbows and your eyes over the ball. And unless you're 6'2" or more, then your 35 inch putter will not allow you to set up correctly and will not give you the best chance to make a good stroke. And just cutting down your putter will not work because it will then be too light. The head weight must increase as the club gets shorter to keep the swing weight in balance. The answer then is a custom fit putter.
Only a few companies are offering true custom putters that are fit to the player by a PGA Professional. We fit Coutour Putters at Mystery Valley Golf Club. Talk to your PGA Professional about getting a custom fit putter or search on line for a PGA Professional in your area who fits and sells custom putters. April is Free Fit and Trade Up Month, what better time to make sure you are putting with the equipment best for you.
Once a player is put in a proper set up with a putter that fits, the stroke will improve without much work or over thinking. On the other hand all the instruction in the world will not help if the putter won't let you make a good stoke because it does not fit.
John Crumbley is the PGA Director of Golf at Mystery Valley Golf Club in Lithonia, GA.