The putter is the most used club in the bag with up to 50% of the par score on the course allotted to putts. Having the right putter in the bag will assist in holing more putts and reduced scores. This is probably the easiest way to reduce handicaps.
Although this is a known fact, many golfers spend more time, effort, and resources on researching and purchasing a driver than on the putter that they put in the bag. Selecting the right putter should be the first priority when deciding on a new set of clubs.
Fortunately, putters are quite durable, and at times where golfers experience difficulty in putting, they often fall back to putters that have brought success in the past. Putter length is crucial for a proper putting stance.
Using a putter with the incorrect length results in unsuitable wrist and arm alignments, poor posture, incorrect distance from the golf ball. Control of the putter head is crucial to promote a smooth swing and proper impact thus allowing the ball to roll effortlessly over the putting surface.
Adjusting the length of the putter by shortening or lengthening it will alter swing weight, thus affecting how the putter feels in the golfer’s hands. Feel plays a significant role in building confidence.
Fortunately, some putters come with adjustable heel-toe sole weights enabling the golfers to counter the change in length. Confidence is crucial in the ability to hole putts under pressure whether it be in a major tournament or to beat the playing partners in a friendly game.
Ability to read greens, skill, practice, and feel promotes confidence. To match these factors the correct length of the putter will assist in growing confidence.
The importance of putter length
Putting is the golf stroke that requires the most feel to generate success and see more putts drop. One of the most significant factors in being successful with a putter is selecting the right length of the putter shaft.
Choosing a shaft that does not suit your putter stroke is likely to cause discomfort leading to missed putts. The distance between the wrists and the ground determines the standard-length putter requirements.
Putter length is dependent on the golfers’ comfort zone. The most frequently used lengths are standard, belly, and long putters. Care must be taken that the belly and long putters do not anchor on the upper body. Anchoring to the forearm is acceptable.
Customization of putters is common amongst professional and amateur golfers. The length of putters can vary from 18 inches with no restriction to the maximum length. Clearly, the height of the golfer will place a limitation on the length. Selecting the right putter length will assist in the golfer making consistent strokes.
How is the length of a putter measured?
How to measure a putter’s length:
Starting the measurement process requires the golfer to determine their length and the height of the arms when a standard putting position is taken. The equipment required for accurate measurement is a flat surface to place the putter head-on and a 48-inch straight edge measuring device.
For accurate measurement purposes, the center of the putter must be placed flat on the ground irrespective of whether the normal putting stance leads to a toe-up or heel up position.
Start measuring the putter from the sole of the putter keeping the measuring tape tightly against the shaft. The length of the shaft is from the bottom of the sole to the top of the grip. Standard length putters vary between 32 inches and 52 inches.
Most off-the-shelve putters come between 34 inches and 35 inches.
Putter length versus height
There is a direct correlation between a golfer’s length and arm length and the length of the putter.
Standard putter lengths of between 34 inches and 35 inches are based on the industry standard for an average golfer at 5 feet 9 inches for men and 5 feet inches for women.
Any deviation in the height of the golfer could affect the length of the putter required.
Studies show that the optimal spine tilt in the putting stance is 40 degrees. Any deviation from the standard spine tilt could affect the putter length.
Standard length sizing guidelines
As a guideline for putter lengths compared to golfer height are
- Golfer taller than 6 feet require a minimum length of 34 ½ inches
- Golfers between 5 feet 10 inches and 5 feet 11 inches require 34 inches
- Golfers between 5 feet 9 inches and 5 feet 10 inches require 33 ½ inches
- Golfers between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 8 inches require 33 inches
- Golfers between 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 4 inches require 32 ½ inches
- Golfers between 5 feet 1 inch and 5 feet 2 inches require 32 inches
- Golfers between 5 feet and 5 feet 1 inch require 32 inches
- Golfers between 4 feet 11 inches and 5 feet require 31 ½ inches
- Golfers shorter than 4 feet 11 inches 31 inches
In addition to the standard putter, the most commonly used ones are belly and long putters.
The height of the golfers plays a significant role in determining the length of a standard-length putter. Belly and long putters are measured to the anchoring point rather than based on the height of the golfer.
Belly putter sizing guidelines
To qualify as a belly putter, it must measure between 39 inches and 43 inches but can vary slightly on the up or downside. The recommended putter length for golfers exceeding 6 feet 2 inches is between 45 inches and 47 inches.
Golfers between 5 feet 9 to 6 feet 1 will benefit most from a putter between 41 inches and 44 inches. Shorter golfers can get away with using belly putters between 38 inches and 40 inches.
Long Putter Sizing Guidelines
Long putters are generally held out in front of the chest without anchoring it to the body. To fall into the long putter category they need to measure between 46 and 53 inches. The length of a long putter decreases by 1 inch for every inch decrease in the height of the golfer.
Measurement starts at 6 feet 2 inches where the recommended putter length is 54 inches and decreases to the recommended length of 46 inches for a golfer that stands 5 feet 6 inches or below.
Positioning over the golf ball is crucial for alignment purposes. The eyes should be positioned directly above the golf ball at address.
Dropping a golf ball from the golfer’s eyes should see it drop on the golf ball if the ball was positioned correctly.
The stance should allow the arms to swing freely in a pendulum motion from side-to-side.
Putters that are too short will generally result in the golfer bending over too much while a putter that is too long will push the golfer into a stance that is too upright. Otherwise, the golfer will end up with their hands below the putter grip.
The way the golfer grips the putter could affect the length of the putter. Guidelines provided earlier are based on a normal golf grip with both hands at the top of the grip. Any deviation in the grip, such as the popular claw grip, could push the hands lower on the grip thus affecting the golfer’s posture necessitating a longer putter.
Proper alignment requires the eyes of the golfer to create a line from the alignment aid on the putter to a point selected on the green. Putters that are the correct length will aid in getting this done correctly.
Ones that are too long will result in the eyes aligning on the outside of the ball resulting in more pulled putts while putters that are too short will result in the golfers pushing the putt.
Which putter length should you use?
Other than attending a putter finding the golfer can look at the result of their putts to determine whether the current putter is too long or too short. However, a visit to a professional putter fitter will generate the best results.
Putter too long
When the putter is too long it will result in the golfer subconsciously standing further away to retain their posture. This moves the eyes to the inside line rather than hovering directly over the ball. The additional distance changes the lie and loft of the putter head leading the toe to lift off the ground.
The higher toe flattens the arc of the putter stroke resulting in the ball being pulled and misses to the left (for right-handed golfers). The extra length on the putter generally tends to push the arms higher and the elbows too tight into the body opposing the natural stance with arms hanging in a relaxed manner.
With a tighter uncomfortable posture, the pendulum motion becomes increasingly difficult. Furthermore, putters that are too long will increase the rotation of the face outside of the desired range.
Putter too short
If the putter length is too short it leads to the golfer standing too close to the golf ball pushing the eyes to the outside of the target, missing to the right (for right-handed golfers).
A shorter putter requires the golfer to push the grip higher, thus affecting the lie and loft, resulting in the heel of the putter lifting off the ground. The shorter putter length tends to pull the golfer’s upper body further down and add stress to the lower back.
The right length putter will allow the golfer to feel comfortable with their arms hanging down in a natural position, the putter aligned right behind the ball, and eyes above the ball.
Irrespective of whether a standard-length putter, belly putter, or long putter is used the location of the eyes above the ball is essential in proper alignment.
Is a 35-inch putter too long?
Only exceptionally tall male golfers, or have short arms, require putters that are 35 inches or longer. It is unlikely, though not impossible, that women golfers will require a 35-inch putter. The majority of PGA Tour players use putters measuring 34 inches in length.
What length putter does Tiger Woods use?
Unlike most professional golfers, Tiger Woods has used a 35 ¼ inch putter for most of his career and it has been speculated that he is currently using a 35 ½ inch putter. This is due to the persistent challenges that he has had with lower back problems and having a fused spine.
Putting is a major part of golf though neglected by a large part of the golfing community. Many golfers are of the opinion that their putting skills, or lack thereof, is due to their skill level. However, many other factors contribute to missed putts that can be rectified by selecting the right putter.
Golf manufacturers have set a standard length for men and women and build their equipment around these averages. For men, the average length is estimated at 5 feet 9 inches, and for women, it is 5 feet 7 inches. A golfer that deviates from this standard will benefit from customizing their putter length.
Although many factors play a role in selecting the best putter such as the putter head design (blade vs mallet), loft and lie angle, toe or face balancing, or counterbalanced putters, the length of the putter will determine whether a smooth stroke is possible.
Having the correct length putter in the bag will aid in proper alignment and stroke. If the putter is too long it will force the golfer to adjust the stroke by lifting their hands higher leading to less control of the putter head.