If you were only allowed to have one club in your bag custom fitted, which one would you choose? The one that goes the furthest, the one that you hit most approaches with or the one you use the most?
Every year the Callaway Performance Centre at their UK headquarters in Chessington does over 12,000 fittings. However only 3% of those are for the club you use most in a round, which of course is the putter.
You would think this is a fairly quick process of choosing a style and length and off you go. Therefore I was intrigued when Callaway booked me in for an hour to go through the fitting process for their Odyssey putters.
Putting is one of the stronger parts of my game, but occasionally I get the ball jumping at impact, especially with longer putts on fast greens, so I thought some tweaking to my set up could be required.
One of the first things Mike from Callaway did was to find what style of putter works for me best using the Eye Fit board. All Odyssey putters have a four dash lie mark that corresponds to stroke type and with my eyes right over the ball, the single dash, face balanced mallet was right for me.
Mike said around 60% of golfers find the right style of putter through trial and error and I had succeeded here as I already use a face balanced mallet.
The other 40% usually show a dramatic improvement when you fit them to the right putter, as many choose their previous putter on looks rather than performance.
We then took an Odyssey White Hot Pro #7 and hooked it up to a SAM machine, which measures everything in your putting stroke through an attachment to the shaft.
As I half expected, the SAM Report showed too much loft at impact, which was causing the jumping ball at impact. In addition the face was 1° open and there were too many ball strikes towards the toe, which would affect my distance control. However on the plus side I was very consistent at doing this!
Unlike club fitting, Mike said putter fitting was more a blend of coaching and fitting and thankfully he knew his stuff on the coaching side too. My body posture was good, but I tend to cut across the line off the putt, especially if my hands are too low. He suggested raising my hands a little to get the putter sitting flat and then moving them forward to deloft the putter to stop me adding loft at impact.
It felt like I was doing a forward press that even Phil Mickelson would think twice about, but I started to get a better roll on the ball with less skipping at impact.
Next Mike suggested a similar style of putter in the smaller headed Versa 90 #7. This proved much easier to square at impact and I was surprised how a change of head could do this and also how good it felt, as this was not a style I would have picked off the shelf.
However the SAM
report for the Versa 90 #7 still showed a loft increase of 3.2° at impact but I could square the face better with more impacts closer to the centre.
Next up was the Versa 90 2-Ball, which has a slightly longer and deeper head with about half the shaft offset and a hosel that goes into the head a little further back from the face. All this meant that my new hand position felt a little less like my hands were over my left knee.
This did have the desired effect, with the SAM Report for the Versa 90 2-Ball showing loft at impact reducing by 0.3° whilst keeping the face square.
Clearly I still have work to do on my set up as I am still adding +2.7° of loft, but at least I am on the right path and have a putter that gives me the best chance to square the face and reduce the loft at impact.
It also felt that I had a little more margin for error during the stroke thanks to the higher Moment of Inertia (MOI) of the 2-Ball compared to the #7, although either would have been good. The 2-Ball at 355 grams was also a little larger and heavier then the 343 gram #7 and I preferred that look and feel.
Mike said the roll was also better and more consistent and this is where having another pair of expert eyes really delivers the value in a fitting session.
If I had gone with the Versa #7 then there was a choice of 4 different white/black/white or black/white/black designs and this comes down to personal preference. Or so you would think. Mike said that in their experience a white/black/white is better for those with lining up issues at address. The black/white/black is better for those who had trouble with the face angle at impact.
Thankfully the Versa 90 2-ball only comes in one colour scheme as black circles next to a white ball would look odd, so all that was left was to check the length and grip size and my choice was finalised.
The whole process was extremely enlightening and somewhat scary as every aspect of your putting stroke was measured in much more detail than a full swing, with fractions of a degree here or there making a real difference.
However the game of golf is about getting the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible, so increasing your margin for error with a correctly fitted putter makes perfect sense.
Since the fitting I have taken my new putting set up to the course and, whilst it is still work in progress, when I get it right the roll on the ball is definitely better and the ball stays on line more consistently.
As Mike said:
You need to be fitted for the putting stroke you wish to have and then work on getting it there.
So join the minority and book a putter fitting session, as it could be the quicker and cheaper way to lower your scores than getting fitted for that new driver.
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