Putter-fitting experience eye-opening in so many ways

Adam Scott putter Golfweek File Photo

Putter-fitting experience eye-opening in so many ways

Equipment

Putter-fitting experience eye-opening in so many ways

TINLEY PARK, Ill. – I’d been using the same classic blade putter since junior high, so when my colleague booked an appointment at Bettinardi’s Studio B during last year’s NCAA Championship, I basically was along for the ride. Curious, of course, as this is where Lexi Thompson picked up a putter in the summer of 2016 and never looked back. But not really in the market.

Golfweek’s Lance Ringler and I pulled up to a boxy gray building south of Chicago and were soon pulling putter after putter off the shelf. Brad Hommes, our Studio B concierge, has fitted everyone from Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber to Guatemala’s Rodrigo Rodas, who after having his putter tweaked a couple of degrees last summer, shot 67 in his U.S. Junior qualifier.

“It’s never felt better,” the teen reported.

I’ve played golf for nearly three decades, and the idea of having my stroke dissected on a computer felt like being on the scale at a Weight Watchers meeting.

Beth Ann Nichols at Bettinardi’s Studio B

Beth Ann Nichols at Bettinardi’s Studio B. (Lance Ringler/Golfweek)

Besides, isn’t choosing a putter mostly about feel?

I grabbed the putter that most suited my eye but didn’t feel too comfortable on the practice green and headed to the fitting room.

Hommes set up a camera behind the ball and I hit a few putts. He looked at the length of the putter – ideally my eyes would be over the ball or slightly inside it. He looked at the lie – the sole of the putter should be level to the floor at address and impact. And he looked at the loft – the ball should start rolling quickly, with minimal skidding.

“Some people might not even know there’s loft on a putter,” Hommes noted.

We then turned to the computer to watch the ball come off the face and it looked good. So good that I immediately felt a jolt of confidence. My loft sweet spot was 3 degrees, which is standard for the No. 28 Studio Stock design. Ringler picked a similar, center-shafted putter, and his loft was set at 1.5 degrees. Hommes has set up putters as low as -2 degrees.

“I’m not about to change someone’s stroke,” he said.

Hommes cut down my putter to 33½ inches. Ringler’s was cut to 33, noteworthy given that he’s 4 inches taller than me. I set my hands higher at address.

Hommes then put on a grip, and I gave it a whirl.

It felt like a different putter. Ringler felt the same about his. A half inch here, a degree there, the sight of the golf ball moving perfectly off the face. It all added up to immeasurable assurance.

Putter options at Bettinardi

Putter options at Bettinardi. (Lance Ringer/Golfweek)

I picked out a red, white and blue cover, which felt appropriate given that Bettinardi’s putters are milled on property.

Now for the tricky party: How I was going to explain this pricey, unexpected purchase to my husband?

I use this club more than any other in the bag! Look how long I kept my last putter! It’s like that time I bought a designer wallet in Italy. I’ll be pulling my AARP card out of that wallet one day. So really, you’re coming out ahead. (Amortization is always a solid approach.)

Now to get it home. Let’s just say my husband was more lenient than the TSA agent who wouldn’t let me board the plane with my new club. Ringler (and several reputable websites) had me convinced that new security rules now allowed for one carry-on golf club. I used packing tape from the front desk at my hotel to secure my putter to the golf umbrella I’d brought along and waltzed up to the Southwest counter about an hour before my flight.

“You’ll have to check that,” the agent said, showing no sympathy for the fact that I’d just had this club fitted specifically to me.

But I haven’t even used it yet!

I almost cried as I watched the luggage handler place my new custom-fit toy in a flimsy plastic bag, and then gave him a fat tip, as if he were going to sit with it in the belly of the plane. Somehow it got damaged.

Back home in Lakeland, Fla., I took my putter to the local clubfitter to assess the damage. Rick Nolte has been repairing clubs for 41 years, ever since he busted four wedges in short order as a hot-tempered youth and his dad said, “Either get control of it, or learn how to fix them.”

The lie of my putter was off 2 degrees and the shaft had come loose but luckily wasn’t bent. One can only imagine what my unprotected putter had endured on that flight. But at least I had the know-how to put it back together.

So many lessons learned.  Gwk

(Note: This story appears in the Jan. 29, 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

Latest

More Golfweek
Home