Not all putters are created equal. The putter head could be in the shape of a mallet or a blade. They can also differ in weight and height. But how do you know what putter length is right for you? How do you correctly measure putter length aside from taking out a tape measure? These are great questions to consider when shopping around for your next putter, especially if you want to shave a few unwanted strokes off your stroke average.
The Bottom Line:
- Basic Putter Measuring Principles: Measure from the center of the club face up the shaft to the butt end of the grip. The number you see at the top of the butt end of your grip is your putter length
- Personal Preference Matters: When it comes to personal preference, there is no such thing as an incorrect length
- Factors Affecting the Length of Putter You Should Use: Your height, body composition, arm length, and whether you have an injury will all affect the size of the putter you should use.
Basic Putter Measuring Principals
It all starts with the basics of how to measure putter length correctly. Hold your putter so the head is flush on a flat surface, just like it would be in your natural putting setup when addressing the ball. Whether the surface is a traditional putting green, a custom indoor putting mat, or your living room carpet, it doesn't matter. You can measure your putter length anywhere as long as it is on a flat surface. Then, using a measuring tape or yardstick, measure from the center of the club face up the shaft to the butt end of the grip, keeping the measuring device as close to the shaft as possible. The number you see at the top of the butt end of your grip is going to be your putter length.
What to Consider Next
Here is where things get a little tricky. When you are custom fitted for a new putter, you will have your arms measured in relation to how far they are from the ground. This means that someone will take a measuring tape or ruler, and with you standing straight up, they will measure from the sole of your shoe to the tip of your finger. This will give them a better idea of the length of putter they should be providing you to test out. It is not the be-all and end-all of determining the proper putter length, but it is the standard starting point.
Other than measuring the actual length of a putter, there are a few things to consider. For example, if you go to a SAM Putting Lab for a putter fitting, they will assess your height and arm length when fitting you for the right putter. Most PGA Tour players have been to a SAM Putting Lab to have their putter, stroke, and putting style assessed. It is the gold standard when it comes to putting assessments. But if you don't have access to get fitted at SAM, don't fret. There are many other places to get properly fitted for a putter. Being armed with the knowledge of measuring putter length correctly will put you one step ahead of your usual Saturday foursome when shopping for your next money-making putter.
The next most important piece of information besides the length of your putter is how far your arms hang from the ground. There is no set rule to use a putter that is the same length as your fingertips are from the ground; this information is just a good starting point.
Take Michelle Wie West, for instance. Anyone who watched the dual Men's and Women's US Open at Pinehurst should remember her tabletop putting stroke, which earned her the 2014 Women's US Open Champion. At 6'1", Michelle is not a short player in any sense. It was quite a shock to see her putt setup resemble that of a table, with her back perfectly parallel to the ground. She used an extremely short putter to make her setup effective. Her preference was to use a short putter for her putting setup.
Personal Preference Matters
In putting, it's imperative to understand personal preference, and your comfort level will far outweigh anything anyone else can tell you when it comes to club fittings. "Standard putter length" doesn't exist when it comes to personal preference. You could be using the best putter on the market, but if you don't like how it feels, you won't do well with it – it's as simple as that.
No one knows your game or preferences better than you do. So trust yourself! Even if you are a beginner just picking up the game of golf, you will know what feels right and what doesn't. Feel free to let your voice be heard when going through club shopping or getting a custom fitting.
If you like standing tall while you putt, a long putter might be what you need. A shorter putter will be a good fit if you like standing bent over like Michelle. Regarding personal preference, there is no such thing as an incorrect length. However, depending on how the golf ball is set up, there is a proper length putter. So, before shopping around for the perfect putter, determine a solid setup for your putting stroke and go from there. If you have an inconsistent setup, your putter length isn't going to matter.
Factors Affecting the Length of Putter You Should Use
Four major factors come into play when deciding whether the length of your putter is right for you. The proper length of a putter is subjective. Putter fittings are a great way to make sure your golf equipment is right for you. Simply keep these four considerations in mind when getting fitted for your next putter.
When finding the proper putter length for your setup, how tall you are can significantly impact what putter you end up using. But just because you are tall doesn't mean you need to use a tall putter. On the other hand, just because you're short doesn't mean you'll use a short putter. Golf is such an individualized game that what works for one player may not always work for the next. Regardless of what putter length you use, you want to make sure your putter sits flat on the ground and allows your arms to hang naturally when it does.
Whether you have a flat belly or a little extra cushion, body shape can also factor into what putter length to use. You want to use a putter that allows your arms to hang naturally from your shoulders. If you are slim, you can stand tall and use a long putter to achieve this setup. If you are rounder in the midsection, you may need to bend over a little more to get your putter to sit flat on the ground and use a shorter putter.
If you have had a recent back injury or any other ailment affecting how you set up your stroke, it should be considered. Someone with a history of back spasms when bending over will want to use a putter that helps keep that from happening. Long putters are beneficial for this type of ongoing issue. Your body shouldn't be in pain when you are playing golf, so listen to it. If you feel something, say something. Tell your instructor or fitter if something doesn't feel right and ask them to work within the confines of what your body will allow, pain-free.
The length of your arms is going to be a decisive factor in determining what length putter you need. If you are a taller person with shorter arms, you may need a longer putter to compensate and allow the arms to hang naturally and comfortably in your putter setup.
To make sure your putter is the correct length for you, you must pay close attention to how the length of your putter fits with your body and setup. Once you have the perfect-length putter, you'll need to get to practice. It won't matter how top-of-the-line your putter is if it just collects dust instead of getting regular practice. Whether you get your reps in at your club's practice facility or in your living room on your indoor putting mat, consistency is the key to getting better.
Is there a perfect putter length?
For each individual, yes. But there isn't a standard putter length per se.
How do you measure putter length?
With your putter sitting flush on a flat surface, use a measuring device to measure from the bottom of the center of the club face up the shaft to the butt end of the putter grip, keeping the measuring device as close to the shaft as possible.
Can a putter be too long?
Yes. Using a putter that is too long can negatively affect your ability to be a consistent putter.
Does putter length matter?
Yes. Depending on your setup, you could be using a putter that is too long or too short.