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Creating True Roll On Your Putts
Understanding Putter Loft


In the "olden days" - as recently as 5 or 6 years ago - it was thought that putters should have 4 degrees of loft to create the proper roll and topspin on greens. Now we know exactly what causes a putt to initially roll with topspin and to launch correctly at impact - and we know that a 4 degree putter loft is no longer the best for every golfer.

Learn how rise angle and effective loft affect the roll of your putts. What Is Your Effective Loft?

There are two things you need to happen when you putt to create the best possible roll at impact:

a) the golf ball needs to comes off the putter face with topspin roll and

b) the golf ball need to comes off the putter face with a small amount of launch ( about 2 degrees of launch for greens with a Stimp greater than 10).

Data Doesn't Lie

Data from the Science and Motion SAM PuttLab (which measures 28 important parameters in the putting stroke) and high-speed photography show that there are three things that determine the Initial Roll and launch of putts:

  • The static (measured) putter loft.
  • The "effective loft" of the putter at impact. This is the static loft adjusted for the shaft lean at impact. For example, if the putter shaft leans backwards at impact you are adding loft to your putter and your "effective loft" is greater than your static putter loft.
  • The "rise angle" at impact that the golfer creates in his putting stroke. SAM PuttLab data shows that many tour pros have a 2 to 4 degree rise angle in their putting strokes.

SAM PutLab results also show that two things will create the Right Type of Roll and launch at impact:

  • For Topspin - Putting Rise Angle GREATER THAN Effective Putter Loft
  • For greens with a Stimp greater than 10 - Create a Golf Ball Launch Angle of about 2 degrees.

O.K. these are the details, but what things can you do to be sure you create the best putting roll conditions, or to determine if you need to modify your putter or putting stroke? Here are some options....

  • First know what your present putter loft is. Be sure to have it measured.
  • Second, you could get someone to take a still photo, and/or a video, of your putting stroke. iPhone photos and videos can work well for this. From the still photo, see if you have any forward or backward shaft lean at address. If this is different from what you desire, work to change your putting address.
  • There is a neat way to see if your ball initially rolls with topspin or if it skids (has backspin). If you know someone who has a "Rife Dew Board" you can hit some putts on this and actually see how the ball rolls right after impact.
  • Finally, if you want the "Cadillac Approach," you can find a putting improvement expert who can do a SAM PutLab evaluation of your putting stroke.

Easy Changes For More Consistent Putts

All of these can provide you with insights on changes you might make to your static putter loft, your effective putter loft, or your rise angle at impact. Here are the possible changes you might consider.....

  • Change the putter static loft to change the effective putter loft.
  • Change your shaft lean at impact to change the effective putter loft.
  • Change the rise angle in your putting stroke. One possible way to change this and to increase it is to move your ball position slightly forward in your stance. Moving the ball position forward about one ball width will increase your ball launch angle about 1 degree (but be careful, if you do this, to not add loft to your putter).

Bottom Line - There is no one putter loft that is right for every golfer, but it is possible to know how to play with a correctly fit putter and create a putting stroke that will help you to make putts that roll well every time!

The Situation:
You want to know how to make sure your putter has the right amount of loft to produce the best roll.

The Solution:

  • Understand what you need to create a good launch angle and initial roll for your putts.
  • Learn how the putter "effective loft" and stroke rise angle affect the roll of your putts.
  • Learn how to determine if you have the right loft for your putter that jives with your personal putting stroke.
Tony Wright
Tony Wright

Game Improvement Golf and Tony Wright help golfers to optimize the performance of their golf clubs, hit more great golf shots and shoot lower scores. He has been recognized as one of the Top U.S. club fitters by Golf Digest in 2011 and 2013. Learn more about Tony Wright at GameImprovementGolf.com

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