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Links Lessons: Weight Gain for Speed Control

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Article by George Connor, PGA Professional & Two-Time CT Teacher of the Year –

An often overlooked aspect to the putter you are using is the weight of the putter.  Most people unfortunately select a putter solely because it looks good to them, it is popular or their favorite player uses it.  In a custom fitting we look at the length, lie, head shape, loft and weight of the putter.   Putter heads nowadays range from 300 grams (very light) to 400 grams.  Having the proper weighted putter is a function of the greens you play and your individual stroke.  The proper weight will allow you to vastly improve your speed control.  Putters with expert speed control will rarely three-putt greens.  They are also the golfers that seem to make more than their share of long putts.  Wouldn’t that be a great world to live in! Which end of the scale you would perform best at will rely on a few factors.

Don’t be afraid to read this again.  On fast greens, you will do better with a heavy putter and on slow greens a lighter putter will help you.  When I tell a student the above, they are normally surprised and even think I had it backwards.  The thinking is that a heavy putter will make fast greens harder because the added mass will make it hard to hit the putt “softly” on slick outing surfaces.  Likewise, the thinking on fast greens is that a light putter will make it easy to ease the ball down the fast slopes.  Wrong!

The speed at which the ball comes off the putter is a function of hitting the ball on the sweet spot and the speed of the putter at impact. (yes, mass does play a role in the math formula but Velocity will be the greater variable from one putting stroke to the next).  While the range of putter weights may be 100 grams, most putters fall in the 340 to 370 range.  While a 30 gram difference seems small, even a novice player would be able to feel that there is a noticeable difference between these two putters all else being different.
A light putter is easy to move quickly in a putting stroke but at the same time, “too” light would become difficult to move slowly.  On the other side of the spectrum, if you have a putter with a high gram weight it would be quite easy to have the putter move slowly through the stroke.  However, trying to get a heavy putter to move faster could present a challenge.  (Watch the video to see the examples I use regarding heavy and light putters.)

In the next month, many of you will play in the State Open, your Club Championship, a 3-Day Member Guest etc.  What do these events have in common?  The greens will be fast!  While it is not realistic to ask a Superintendent to keep the putting greens as fast as possible for the entire season, when the big events role around the greens are at their best.  They will double cut and roll the greens.  You will need to adjust in order to get comfortable on the faster surfaces.  If you have a light putter you may be at a big disadvantage.  Try a heavier putter or perhaps break out some lead tape which will allow you to temporarily add some weight to your putter.

Lastly, your putter should fit your normal conditions.  Chances are, your home course will have relatively consistent green speeds throughout the main part of the season.  In any area, golf courses have reputations, don’t they?  “XYZ Country Club has lightning fast greens, ABC Golf Club is in great shape but the greens are slow”.  The weight of your putter should match the green speed that you typically encounter.  Decide if gaining, or losing weight will help you become a better putter.