Putter Question

Some experts say that the type of putter one uses is irrelevant. But the usual advice is that players with “straight back, straight thru” strokes should use a face balanced putter and players with an “arc” stroke should use a toe heavy putter. Ping clearly recommends a toe heavy putter for anyone with an arc stroke even recommending a much more toe heavy putter for “strong arc"strokes and a less toe heavy putter for “slight arc” strokes. Their Ping putting app for Iphone 4 is based on this concept. While I’m not sure exactly what they mean, Ping says “their studies show” that toe heavy putters work better for those with an arc stroke. Stan Utley says that he prefers the toe heavy Ping Anser in his book on putting. In his most recent book Utley says “toe hang” helps the putter swing around in an arc. When I’ve asked several pros “Why a toe heavy putter for an arc stroke?”, the usual answer is that the weight in the toe helps the toe close and release. They also sometimes add,” that’s why so many tour pros use the Ping Anser".

Here is my problem. When we want the toe of a driver to close during the swing (promoting a draw) we put the weight in the heel of the club. This makes the toe lighter than the heel so that the toe will close faster. All of the adjustable drivers make this recommendation and I suspect the science backs them up on this.

Obviously a driver is swinging much faster than a putter but does the speed really matter? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use a “heel heavy, light toe putter” (like an Odyessy Backstryke) for an arc stroke especially if the goal is to close and release the toe of the putter. Wouldn’t a heavy toe (like a Ping Anser) slow the closing of the toe of the putter (leaving it open) and be counter productive for an arc stroke?

Am I wrong about this?
Does “toe heavy” vs. “toe light” matter at all ?
Does Ping have it right or wrong?
Are Stan Utley and all those tour pros wrong when they use a toe heavy putter with an arc stroke?

I’m looking for thoughts and input on this.

Here’s a link to a website that I like. It has a lot of imformation on putter fitting, I think it will help you in answering your questions.


If you are going to try to swing the putter backwards and forward in a straight line, then go for a heel toe balance. But if your are going to actively rotate the blade then you will want some weight out on the toe so you have something to feel pressure against.

The differences you mention have to do with hitting vs swinging issues. Passive or active participation. I believe arc putting is the way to go… and weight out on the toe is critical to that working properly.

Arc putting? Is that method discussed in mr barkows book?

He does discuss it… I think he prefers the tuck and block method…

Putters do make a difference. First, most good putters aim the putter pretty accurately at address. The more off your aim is at address, the more compensations you need to make in order for the putter face to point at the target at impact. That’s what really matters…where the face is pointing at impact. If it’s pointing right or left of the target at impact…it’s going to roll the ball right or left of the intended target.

There was a study done by David Orr that consisted of nearly 700 golfers, including 50 PGA Tour playres up to the 30 handicapper. 80% could not aim straight from only 6-feet away. Part of the problem is that OEM’s have gone bonkers with their putters…particularly the mallet and high-MOI putters.

There was a study by some European scientists that found that when they gave golfers mallet or high-MOI putters with all of those things used to help with alignment…the golfer would think that they aimed the putter better. But, when their aim was measured the reality was they aimed those putters worse. It’s perfect for the OEM’s because they can market their putters as helping with the aim and the golfer will believe them because they perceive those putters as easier to aim. But, the reality is that they are aiming those putters worse, so they wind up putting poorly and then need to get another new putter.

Then there’s other factos with putter design like head weight, shaft weight, shaft flex, length, lie angle, loft, etc that work together with the golfer’s type of stroke. The wristier the stroke action, the more the putter accelerates. So the more they need a heavier putter, shaft, stiffer shaft flex, etc. More of a swinging/pendulum action, the less the putter acclerates…so a lighter putter, shaft, weaker flex, etc. Also depends on the speed of the greens. Slower greens work better with lighter putters and higher lofts. Faster greens work better with heavier putters and less loft.

As far as arc vs. SBST. I recommend what works best for you. However, I would advise to try an arced backstroke with a follow thru that is more straight down the line. This requires the least amount of manipulation and is the most free motion. Also, keep your rythm in tact. The pace of the putter should be the same back as it is thru. Better players tend to have too slow of a thru stroke. Worse players tend to go too fast in the thru storke and jab at it. If you keep it the same pace back as it is thru, you’ll find that you can easily and freely hit the putter on the sweetspot time after time.


3Jack I think your comments are right for most, but maybe not for someone that has suffered through the worst of putting yips. Only in the last three months have I started chipping and putting with the very short backswing and accelerating follow through that Lag recommends. I grip the putter hard with my left hand and the middle two finger so my right hand. The short backswing and then accelerating through stroke puts a lot of pressure in the hands that it overrides the possibility of a yip. Maybe this method is just for me, but it has really helped. It probably looks jabby, but I really have good distance control using this method. I hope it stays with me!

We have to remember that often times the feel isn’t real. I think most golfers, at one time or another, struggle with decelerating in their putting stroke. I think some never get over that deceleration. I think others do and keep a good rhythm. I think others over-react and start over-accelerating and create a jabby stroke.

So, you may have had a deceleration problem and now you feel like you are accelerating, but what you might be doing is no longer decelerating and keeping the putter moving in good rhythm.

Part of the issue is that we need to clarify what I mean by ‘rhythm’ and ‘tempo.’

Tempo = how fast the putter is moving.

Rhythm = the putter moving the same pace back as it does thru.

So, in this situation, rhythm has nothing to do with having that long, free flowing action that Crenshaw has with his putter. It simply has to do with whatever tempo you choose, it’s the same back and thru.

This is important because I think it’s perfectly fine to have a fast tempo of the putter stroke. Just as long as it’s in rhythm. And since it’s a faster tempo, the stroke will be shorter (otherwise, you’ll hit it too hard).

I think if you employ a wristy action, then your tempo will be faster because the wrists cause the putter to accelerate more. So if you use a wristy action, you’ll have a faster tempo and a shorter stroke. But, as long as it is in rhythm, that’s all that matters.

If you use a swinging, pendulum-esque stroke, your stroke will have a slower tempo and be longer in length.

I think what happens is people think that they have to have that long, swinging pendulum-esque stroke because it ‘looks prettier’ and that looks less ‘yippy.’ But the reality is that it may be difficult for a person to perform and there are things like how the person addresses the putter than influence how well one can perform a wristy or a swinging stroke.

For me, I’m pretty tall (6’4”) and it’s always felt natural for me to have the arms hand down on the putter. This makes it easier for me to use a swinging-pendulum-esque stroke that is long and flowing. But, Raymond Floyd used a 37 inch putter with his elbow bent and a short, wristy stroke and was a fantastic putter.

Just like the pros who have pretty looking swings that can’t hit the ball effectively, same goes with pros that have pretty looking putting strokes that cannot putt effectively. I think if you keep the rhythm the same, regardless of tempo, you’re ahead of the game on the putting green.


I would suggest that if you line up square to your intended initial line, that requires you to have to do a lot of things perfect.
You have to line up perfect, take it back and through perfect and hit it the right speed. I find that a bit stressful.

I think the key is to burn a line to the hole with your eyes and forget about alignment and your stroke and then feel the ball down the line with your action… whatever that is. This was one of the key elements that Alvie Thompson taught me. I don’t think a baseball pitcher or a bowler is lining anything up… but more concerned with getting things in motion and feeling the ball down toward the target in very proactive way.

You can certainly work on some technical stuff, drills and have a basic approach toward technique, but ultimately you have to let all that go when you are trying to make putts, and feel the ball down the line.

I think breaking putts are easier to make because you have more ways of making them. Firm with less break, softer playing more break, and there are things you can do with your technique to stack things more in your favor.

For example… if you can set up your gear and stroke… so that a decel action closes the face and sends the ball left, you can use that occasional deviation to your advantage on left to right putts to make more of them. Just think about it.

By understanding your stroke and tendencies, you can parlay that into making more breaking putts if you know what you are doing. There are also things you can do with ball placement and how you set up, shaft lean, loft angles, and work that into up and downhill putts also.

Putting is more an art than most think.

But I think there is some good science behind having a bit of loft at impact and getting some hook spin on the ball right off the face.

I think that’s a bit illogical. I think that if you aim square at the target at address, you don’t have to make a compensatory move to get the putter face to square up at impact.

Let’s say you are aimed 5* left of the target at address. Now you have to make the proper amount of compensation(s) in order to open the face 5* so it returns to square at impact. It’s not that it cannot be done, but it’s difficult for most golfers to make that compensation. And one of the big issues I find with compensations is when you make one of them, it often causes a chain reaction of other compensations and sometimes you can time it, sometimes you can’t.

Nobody is ever going to be perfect on every putting stroke. I think most of us can accept that. But, if I can be aimed square at address, if I’m off by 0.5 to 1.0*, I probably still have a chance to make the putt. If I’m off by 0.25*, my odds are still probably pretty good. But, if I aim 5* left at address, it requires a lot more compensation(s) to get it to 0* at impact.

Even that being said, I firmly believe that good putting starts with good speed/touch. Good speed/touch increases the effective size of the cup. And that increases your odds of making more putts…which helps counter mis-reads, mis-aims and things like indentations on the green knocking the ball off line. I think speed/touch is way, way, way more important than line.


R3J - I think what Lag is inferring regarding putting is this:

  1. Just like in the full ABS swing, there is a setup that allows us to more naturally start the ball on it’s intended path. Rarely is that setup ever square.
  2. Lag wants putting to be more like a chip shot in execution and not such a specialized stroke whose only utility is rolling the ball on the green.

Just my take from everything I’ve studied. But there is a lot to be said to being more instinctive, athletic, and not allow preconceived geometric lines get in the way.

Captain Chaos

I don’t think somebody’s stance or body lines have to be square to the target either. But, I find it illogical because if I aim the putter head 5* left of the target or 12* right of the target or whatever…I still have to make that same ‘perfect’ stroke to get the putterface to square at impact that we are claiming you have to do with a putter aimed square at address.

It’s just if that we aim the putterface square at address…we don’t have to worry about making the proper compensation at impact. It may very well not end up square at impact. But the range of motion required to get it back to zero is…zero. That is more sensible than puporsely aiming 10* left and hoping that you perfectly open up the face 10* to square it up at impact.

And I do agree that putting is more instinctive than worrying about lines. Like I said, good putting starts with good speed/touch. Everybody who can move without some severe handicap, naturally has touch built into their brain. It’s just most golfers don’t know how to use it when it comes to putting.

Essentially, with speed/touch…it determines the effective size of the cup as the ball nears the up. A putt that is hit roughly hard enough to go 5 feet past the cup makes the cup effectively 1/2" in size. I would take my putting over Ben Crenhaw’s in his prime if Ben had to putt to a 1/2" cup every time while I was putting to 4 inch cups. So by delivering the ball to the cup with the optimal speed, we are making the hole bigger and increasing the odds the ball will go into the cup. Because there are plenty of things that can knock the ball a sliver off line. If I’m putting to a 1/2" cup because I hit the ball too hard…my odds of making a putt that is knocked a hair off line by either an indentation in the green, slightly hit off the toe, a slightly mis-aim, etc…that putt will almost never go in. But, if I’ve hit a putt with a great speed and making the cup effectively 4 inches wide…now that being a sliver off can still find the putt droppng into the cup.

It’s like counting cards in blackjack. Keep putting the odds in your favor and eventually those putts will drop.


Exactly. However, your assumption is that you can get the putter’s face back to square from that set up position you adopted.

Lag is saying that the chance to make that ‘perfect’ stroke may be much easier to make without contorting oneself into a different position just for rolling the ball. Think about the tolerances required on the full swing…not very forgiving to be sure, but as organic beings we do a pretty good job of repeating those full shots. Lag is offering another way to swing a putter. It’s built different from most putters. It’s weighted different from most putters. The stroke is approached much like the ABS swing. I see it as another option and a good one for those who are pushing geometry, rigid ritual, and static checklists out of their minds. “Illogic” may be the most logical way to solve one’s putting woes.

I’ll let Lag speak for himself on this, but I understand exactly what you are saying R3J.

Captain Chaos

I’m not really saying that. I don’t expect strokes to be perfect all of the time or even a high percentage of time. I would just rather minimize the amount of compensation. I can live with being a little off at impact, particularly if I have the speed and the green-read correct.



You are correct, it is VERY illogical. I spent years inside a Pelz track working on perfect lines and lining up straight. I could putt ok.

I’ve said this before, but when I won on The Canadian Tour I literally aimed 20 degrees left on every putt all week. Did that the week before, and the week after. Shot 31 under across 9 competitive rounds. Best run of putting I ever had. By aiming left and then re routing the club, looping inside then blocking it out to the right, you lag the head doing that… you also deloft the putter face some. It also forces you to focus on the ball starting down the line rather than your stroke. My putter would loop less on short putts, more on longer putts. Trevino talked about doing the same thing… blocking his putts, and Barkow told me Nicklaus said the same thing to him… he pushed everything into the hole aiming left.

So yes… it sounds very illogical until it doesn’t.

Here, watch me make putts under pressure in a tournament.
Scroll down to Windsor… if you look closely you can see what I was doing…

gothamgolfblog.com/search/la … agpressure

That Video was awesome !!!

With putting, we are not held hostage by the much greater pressures and forces in fuller golf shots… so in that sense, there are likely more things that can work. You don’t have to line up left like I did… but I don’t think you have to line up straight either. You don’t have to putt like a pendulum, or work the blade back and forth any particular way. While the method I used to use was streaky, I could get hot… and getting hot is what is going to put you in the winner’s circle.

Whatever works.

My questions over time became…

  1. Why is a putter designed more upright than a PW?
  2. Why is it lighter?
  3. Why not have a round grip on it?
  4. Why have a whippy shaft in it?
  5. Why would you want the mass distributed differently than with a short iron?
  6. Why grip it differently?
  7. Why do the rules suddenly have to change when you get on the green?
  8. Why have your eyes over the ball?
  9. Why call it putting?

I did as well. I mostly just worked on keeping the putter relatively SBST on the stroke and I putted fantastic throughout my college years. My generally thinking back then was to worry about speed, keep the rhythm and putterhead low to the ground and a relatively SBST stroke. I also had a putter that was somewhat similar to the Edel putter I have now which is designed to naturally fit my eye.

When I got back into the game after an 8-year layoff I became worried about the stroke more and trying to maintain a symmetrical arc. I also started using a putter that was very different in design. I would aim 2-3* to the right and over time, my brain would tell me to cut across the ball in order to get it going more left. I also started to become very ‘careful’ in the thru stroke.

Finally, I began to understand how speed/touch is the #1 key to good putting and why it’s so important. That alone helped my putting. But then I learned how to use the brain’s natural ability to sense the optimal speed on a putt and why keeping your putting stroke in rhythm was so important. Then I got myself a putter that I could naturally aim straight. Coincidentally it looks somewhat similar to my putter in college.

I don’t think using science to explain putting was where Pelz went wrong. I think that the methods he used produced inaccurate results. From what I’ve been told, when he presented in front of researchers and fellow instructors at MIT a few years ago, the peer review of his work made his look very bad. For instance, Pelz states that the optimal speed of a putt will leave the ball going about 17 inches past the cup. This was found to not only be false, but the way he conducted the study to come up with the analysis was not scientific. That…and 17 inches past the cup is a distance not a speed. They’ve now found that the optimal speed is roughly 2-3 revolutions per second. That would leave an optimal distnace of 6 to 12 inches past the cup (depending on the green and the slope of the putt).

Unfortunately, golfers are never told about these flaws and when they do…people blame science instead of the scientist.


I agree, I remember when I first heard that years ago in the 80’s that it was a bad and confusing depiction for the reasons stated above. I could only speculate he was basing that on average tour greens at the time back then… not the Frog hair I was putting on.