Counterbalanced Putters - My Thoughts...
Maybe not a recent trend, but something I am seeing more and more of, is putters that are counterbalanced. For those who aren't sure what this means, a putter can be counterbalanced either by placing a weight in the butt end of the club, by replacing the grip with a heavier grip, by lengthening the putter to longer than required, or a combination of the above. I've heard many different theories about the supposed benefits of counterbalancing a putter, from stabilising the hands, to allowing the head of the putter to release more easily.
I'm not so sure...
Based on my personal experience, working with so many golfers, I believe that there is only a small percentage that would see benefit from a counterbalanced putter. In a consistent putting stroke, we want the grip end or handle of the putter, to move at the same rate as the head. In other words, take our spine as the centre point, the butt end of the putter should be pointing at that same point relative to our spine throughout the stroke. If this does not happen, it means the wrists aren't locked in place and we are creating yet another variable that needs to be controlled. For me, counterbalanced putters encourage wrist manipulation throughout the entire stroke. Extra 'stability' is added to the grip end and therefore it increases the chances of the putter head moving a great distance, relative to the grip / butt end
Rory has what I would call a 'block release' in this old footage. Notice the hands further ahead of putter head at impact compared to set up. This is something far less common amongst amateur golfers compared to the opposite (hands behind.)
Based on findings in my coaching, I would suggest far more golfers lack face control due to the putter head effectively 'passing' the hands at too fast a rate (hands stalling or behind address position) compared to those who do the opposite, with the handle getting too far ahead, what I would call a 'block release.' A golfer that does the former (head passing) will benefit far more from adding more weight to the head of the putter, restricting its likelihood to pass the hands. Only if a golfer has a tendency to get the hands too far ahead - aka Rory - would I then look at the possibility of counterbalancing the putter.As I always say with putter fitting, there is no exact rule that works for everyone. For example, if someone did have a block release, I would test the theory of counterbalancing using the Quintic Ball Roll. Results would determine whether the counterbalance is beneficial to the golfer or not.
Create Realistic Expectations...
So many golfers create unrealistic expectations when it comes to putting. For many of these players, when I give them an understanding of PGA Tour averages, they are surprised by them. The chart above shows these averages and makes for interesting reading.
8 feet is the distance at where PGA Tour players, on average, hole only 50% of putts. When you go to 15 feet (just 5 paces) the make percentage is just 23%. Something else to consider, when 60 feet away from the hole, PGA Tour players 3 putt on average 23% of the time. That's one in four.
Maybe there next time your out on the course and you 3 putt from 60 feet, or you miss that birdie chance from 8 feet, you'll remember this chart. Having a more realistic understanding of expectations may make you less hard on yourself. Lose that added pressure and you may become more likely to hole the next one.
For an even greater understanding of your putting, you can now find the Strokes Gained Putting Calculator on my website. Click below to check it out.