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putter fitting

The extra step women should take when buying a putter

April 05, 2024
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Missing putts is a frustrating reality of golf, but if you’re missing more than you think you deserve to, the issue might be your equipment. Even with the right line and a good stroke, you can miss putts if you have a putter in your hands that doesn’t fit you.

This is a topic we’ve spent a lot of time on at Golf Digest. In our December 1999 issue, Judy Rankin touched on the topic when she noted women often have putters that are too long for them.

“If your putts are offline, don't necessarily blame yourself: It may be your putter’s fault. Many golfers, particularly women, play with putters that are too long,” Rankin said.

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It was a problem in 1999, and it’s something to look out for now, too.

Bob Kitchen, owner of Maple Hill Golf and one of Golf Digest’s Best Club Fitters, says the putters you’ll find at retail are generally 33, 34 or 35 inches long, with the majority of putters being 34 and 35 inches. Putter lengths are specific to the individual; how you stand up to the ball will determine which putter length is best for you. Generally, though, Kitchen says most women are actually best-suited with a 32-inch putter.

“If you’re shorter than 5' 3", then a 31-inch or even a 30-inch putter could be the correct one for you,” Kitchen says.

Women are generally shorter than men, so using a shorter putter only makes sense. But that creates the problem for women of average or below average height, as the putters at retail are likely too long. And that can mess with your stroke.

"Putters have roughly three degrees of loft. They're not flat. If the putter is too long, the head is too far away from you, and the toe goes up in the air,” Kitchen says. “That actually shuts the face down. The face is actually pointing left, and you're going to miss putts to the left. It's going to appear that you're pulling them. You're not.”

Mind you, the solution isn’t as simple as cutting down a longer putter. If the putter is shorter, the head needs to be heavier, to maintain the proper swing weight.

The best solution to this putter-length issue is to get a putter fitting. But if you’re not able to do that and you’re trying to buy a putter off the shelf without any experts around to help you, Kitchen says to look for these three things:

Posture

Kitchen says to address a ball and then assess: Do you feel comfortable? If your posture feels natural—you're not standing up too tall or hunching over too much, then you’re on the right track.

Eyes over the ball

When you address the ball, your eyes should be over the ball. “The easiest way to see if your eyes are over the ball is the old school trick of putting a ball down in front of the putter face. Hold another ball on the bridge of your nose and drop it. If it hits the ball in front of your putter face, then the length of your putter is right,” Kitchen says.

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Flush to the ground

When you address a ball at the store, look at how the sole is sitting. “You also want the sole of the putter to be as flat or flush to the ground as possible,” Kitchen says. If your putter is flush to the ground, that means the face is square.

If you’ve gone through these steps with a few putters in-store and none of the putters you’ve tried feel right, you can order shorter length putters online. Just because they’re not on the shelf doesn’t mean they don’t exist.