One of the first things I do when I get to the golf course for my Sunday morning round is to go to the putting green. I start my practice routine with six-foot straight, flat putts. Then I move on to flat twelve-footers. Part of my routine is my love of the short game, and part is the calming of the mind. Excitement abounds when most golfers get near a golf course, and as tee time approaches the body pulses with energy. Putting is my favorite part of golf, and the calm necessary to putt well is great for the rest of one’s game as well.
With my affinity for putting, it is only natural that two of my favorite new tools would be associated with fitting the putter. Our new Adjustable Putter Bending Unit and Putter Bending Bar allow clubmakers to alter almost any putter. Both tools look rather simple, but it is what they do “outside the box” that makes them so valuable.
The putter, like any other club, needs to fit properly in order to suit the golfer’s needs. It must be comfortable to their stature and, more importantly, to the eyes. The most common fit mistakes we see are the length and the lie of the putter head. When a golfer continually grips the club with part of their hand on the bare steel shaft, then it is quite likely the putter is too long. The lie is easy to see and fix, as well. In order to align the putter to the appropriate line, the putter head should rest flat on the ground, without the toe pointing to the sky, as most putters' do.
We initially designed the Adjustable Putter Bending Unit to secure putters that employ double-bend shafts. We improved the unit for 2008 by adding a clamp that fastens the putter from the top. With the putter held tight, you can measure and bend the putter with greater ease.
Usually when you adjust a double-bend putter shaft, you change the lie of the putter. Secure the putter head in the Adjustable Putter Bending Unit, and move the shaft until it bends. Grab the grip and move the shaft until resistance is met, and then move it some more. As long as the shaft moves parallel to the face of the putter, the loft will not change.
This is a craft that you need to practice a bit before bending a customer’s favorite putter. Some clubmakers prefer to heat the area of the shaft where the bend will occur, while others simply move the shaft until it is in the correct lie position. Personally, I move the flame of my propane torch rapidly across the upper bend of the shaft for about 40 seconds. The shaft cosmetics are unharmed, and the shaft seems to bend with greater ease. I cool the shaft with a wet rag when I'm finished. The last step is to check your work by measuring any adjustments with a Magnetic Protractor.
I also fixture putters with straight shafts in the Adjustable Putter Bending Unit. To gain better access to its neck, I place the putter in backwards; the back of the putter faces the flat front of the unit. This maneuver allows the new Putter Bending Bar to easily grab the hosel or neck of the putter.
The Putter Bending Bar has chamfered edges and is double-ended. Each end has a removable insert, giving it four apertures of different sizes to fit virtually any putter on the market. The value of four unique sizes is that the one that fits tightest will usually do the best job of bending the hosel without damaging it. Bending a straight neck crooked is not advised, nor is marring the neck with bending marks.
With a bit of practice, fitting putters to perfection goes a long way toward making putting as fun and successful as we all want it to be. The good thing is that there are plenty of inexpensive putters you can practice on, so keep an eye open for freebies or bargains you wouldn't mind damaging as you learn. Then spend some time perfecting your skills – it will definitely pay off on the green.