Am I a carrier, a skidder or a roller?
SINCE writing the last putting article for Inside Golf, I have given a number of putting lessons and have been surprised at just how many players are using putters that are not suited to them. This is probably not unexpected when most golfers I suppose just pick up a putter in a golf store have a few putts to check the feel and weight and then buy it. But what they are not aware of is their putting will more then likely suffer as a result. At the end of the day, putting is 50% of the game so it is important that we take putter fitting seriously.
There are three basic “types” of putting styles/ characteristics: Carrier = A player whose golf ball carries a long way through the air before it begins to roll Skidder= A player whose golf ball skids along the green a long way after they strike it Roller= A players whose ball rolls almost immediately after it is struck (This is ideal-You want to be a roller!)
It is important to understand what happens when we strike a ball with the putter. As you can see from the photos, I actually use a high speed camera to determine whether I am working with a “Carrier”, a “Skidder” or a “Roller” when doing a putter fit.
Let’s clear up a few myths while we are at it: Every putt skids before it begins to roll regardless of what the advertisers would like you to believe. A minimum amount of carry or skid and maximum amount of roll would be the best situation to control direction and distance.
Minimum carry or skidding can be obtained by striking the ball just above the middle of the ball (the equator, if you like). Combined with the correct loft, this gets the ball rolling quickly.
Let me explain LOFT for a second – The putterface has loft (let’s call this Loft A). Many golfers still believe the putterface is straight up and down (zero loft) but this is not true. The reason we need loft is simple: the ball sits down IN the grass not ON the grass as we would like to think, so the loft lifts the ball up onto the surface of the grass. Depending on where your hands are positioned in relation to the putterface as you strike the ball, the initial loft (A) may have changed (Loft B). Sometimes I will increase or decrease the loft on a player’s putter and keep the stroke they have, knowing that it will produce minimal carry or skid and result in a consistent roll.
Research I have done at The Sydney Putting Studio has proven that a putted ball performs more consistently when it is struck with approximately 3.5 degrees of loft at impact (when it is struck correctly, that is).
In these two photos I have drawn a vertical line through each ball, a red line through mine, and a blue line through the ball of a junior golfer I gave a lesson to recently. You can see the ball with the red line is rolling almost immediately and my shaft is fairly straight, whereas the ball with the blue line has been carried and hasn’t started rolling as yet
If you are having trouble with your putting – wouldn’t you like to know if your putter is actually helping or hurting your game ? If so, perhaps it is time to get properly fit for a putter.