A few people have asked me about how to make sure they find a good fitter when they decide (wisely so! ) to get fitted for an Edel putter.
As most of these people know, Edel putters can be created in 3 million+ combinations, with the loft, lie angle, hosel shape and offset, head shape, lines/dots, shaft length, stiffness, and weighting (head, shaft, butt of club) all being separately configurable.
Enough people have asked that rather than answer them all individually, I thought I'd answer this here. I've seen (and heard of) some "quick" fitters who will do something like switch between two heads and two hosels (four whole combinations) until they find something that fits close enough, and call it a day. I've heard of people being fit in hotel rooms, where competing shapes can skew the aim quite a bit.
This article should help you to avoid a "bad fitting." Though they're exceedingly rare, I think this article should help turn a "pretty good" fitting into a great one, too.
First, an Edel putter fitting accomplishes two tasks, and is thus comprised of two parts.
- First, you find a putter that you can aim.
- Next, you find a putter that allows you to most easily control distances.
Let's take a look at each of these steps, and the things to avoid with each:
This is typically how this works: you've got a dummy hole with a pen laser in it. Behind that, a black sheet, basically. Golfers get a mirror taped to their putter face, line up to a golf ball (more on that in a bit), and try to line up straight at the hole. The fitter removes the ball briefly, notes where the laser points, and has the player do this once or twice more.
The ball is usually placed six feet or so away from the "cup," but we often fit people at 8-10 feet because it simply increases the margin for error (and takes the cup and backdrop out of the golfer's peripheral vision). It's important to note that the location of the laser is doubled - if you are aiming a cup right, you're really just outside the right edge, because the laser is traveling 12 feet (six times two) from the cup to the putter, then back to the backdrop.
There are a few very important things to note during this phase. In no particular order…
The only time we've seen someone's aim change is when their setup gets WEIRD - their eyes get really far inside or outside the golf ball, for example, or they start to play with the handle height or the location of the putter in their stance (quite a bit - a little change doesn't affect much if anything). Check your setup to make sure it's not really weird before you go to an Edel putter fitting. Because you're fit to your eyes, and the way your brain sees things, this won't change over time unless you do something to totally change your setup.
Your Aim Bias
Do not look up! Do not look at the laser dot on the backdrop, and do not ask your fitter where you're aiming. Whether you intend to or not, it only increases the odds that you'll adjust your aim to not look stupid, which defeats the whole purpose. Just trust the guy fitting you. He can show you at the end how well you aim. Trust him and don't peek.
It's important that, between each putt, you completely re-set. Don't just keep standing there by the spot where the ball is placed. Step back. Go through a miniature version of your putting routine, even if you make some little strokes. Step into the ball the same way you do when putting. This ensures that where you put your feet are not governing your reactions to changing putters. For example, if you aim your feet left, don't move out of your stance, and get a new putter, you're likely to aim the next one farther left as well because a properly aimed putter will look "open" to your feet.
Line on the Ball
If you use the line on the ball to help you line up your putter, you're going to have to do this too each time you reset. Sorry. :) But here's my advice on using the line: don't. We've tested a few hundred players, and from eight feet, most players can't put the LINE on the ball within the cup. So… the line can screw you up. You're better off finding a putter you can aim just looking at a white part of the golf ball, because you'll always be able to find a white part (or yellow, or orange :D) without relying on having a ball with a line on it.
Plenty of Room
Because of the way an Edel putter fitting works, you should do this outdoors or in an area indoors where there are no things around you. Do not get fit on a narrow mat, as the edges of the mat will "steer" your aim. Do not get fit next to furniture, walls, or other weird shapes, as they will mess with the way your eyes and brain see "straight." You want your putter fitting to be as similar to how you'd line up a putt outside on a golf course (there aren't many walls or lines on the putting greens at golf courses).
Unless a putter is clearly crap (i.e. you can't hit the backdrop), we often give a player three or four tries with a particular combination. Sometimes the fit improves slightly over the four trials, sometimes it gets worse. It's as if there's a little residual left over from the previous putter, so a few attempts clears that out and assures a better understanding. When a putter is narrowed down to tweaking one or two smaller components, we often do six or seven attempts.
Typical Flow - Big to Small
Typically, we check the golfer's current putter. We build a putter that's virtually identical, and confirm that your aim bias is the same. We then often try to build the opposite putter, to see if you move to the other side of the hole. This defines two endpoints, and we can work toward the middle from there. We typically go big to small. First we fix any shaft length and lie angle issues you have, so your putter sits flat and your setup improves (if necessary). Then we go to the big aiming things: head and hosel. Those shift aim more than anything else, so we find the combination that works best. From there we do the smaller things: loft (we do less with this because we fit loft to the stroke more than to use it for aim), lines, subtle tweaks to the hosel, etc. Basically: Length/Lie if necessary, then head, then hosel, then lines/dots/decorations.
Once we've got a putter that a player aims inside the hole (often inside the center inch of the hole) on a straight putt of 8-10 feet, we take the golfer to side slopes. We let them tap or roll a few putts quickly toward the hole, then tell us where they THINK they should aim (because if we tell them 20" outside the edge, and they only think the putt breaks 8", they probably will aim closer to 8 than 20), and then have them line up to that spot a few times. We repeat the process on a few left-to-right and right-to-left putts. Sometimes people set up differently on side slopes, or have an aim bias that's a bit more extreme on the side slopes. We either help them adjust (i.e. "sink into your heels a bit on left-to-right putts, your eyes get outside the ball") or tweak their putter a little if their aim is so poor on a side slope. I think we've only ever done the latter once, though. It's rare.
As a final step, and for people we consider to be fairly "in tune" players, we sometimes let them finish the aim fitting by "fitting themselves" in this sense: we let them aim the laser directly over the middle of the fake cup, and then look at their putter. If they're honest and it's not quite right, the putter will still look like it's pointing right or left to them slightly. They tell us, and we tweak a small thing (often just lines or something) and let them do this again. Then we follow up by confirming that the ball doesn't change things (it rarely does)
Distance fitting is a fair amount simpler, and yet, almost more impressive in the types of changes it can cause.
Typically we find a relatively flat (i.e. 1-2% slope) section of the green and putt across the slope (i.e. so it's not uphill or downhill). We place some string 15 feet away, and ask the golfer to hit putts with their assembled putter the proper distance so that the ball stops ON the string if possible.
We look at the dispersion. We ask the golfer to let us know as quickly as possible if a putt is going to be short or long. You can't make perfect strokes all day, after all, even with a perfectly weighted putter. But if you say "short" and the putt rolls three feet long, it's probably not a good fit.
Dispersion matters in this game. Two putts a foot past and two a foot short might average to perfect, but I'd rather see four balls all a foot long than a two-foot dispersion between the balls.
The fitter and golfer will play with the weights - adjusting head weight, mid-shaft weight, and butt weight (hee hee) - as well as the shaft flex until the golfer can consistently stop three balls awfully close to the string. The first ball a golfer hits with a new weight setup I ignore, as well as obviously any scuffs or severely mishit putts.
Then I have golfers hit putts to various holes with their built putter. Because it may have a weight attached to the head, I don't worry TOO much about their alignment. Plus, if they aimed right with their old putter, they will probably pull putts anyway. I'm looking for gross aim errors and poor distance control, on putts uphill and downhill, left to right and right to left, and flat/straight.
This second phase, though equally as important, does not have millions of combinations, so it often goes more quickly. It's important too to discuss the speed of the player's greens. Slower greens = lighter putters. Faster greens = heavier putters.
Most players end up with heavier putters than standard (350g/33", 330g/35") because greens are faster now than 20 years ago or whenever those "standards" were created.
A brief word on loft… we typically don't fit for loft statically. We look at the player's stroke, sometimes using SAM PuttLab, sometimes high-speed video, etc. If the player has a lot of forward lean at impact, we fit with 4° or so of loft, sometimes 5°. If the player has the handle back a bit, we go with 1-3° of loft.
You cannot really fit loft statically (at setup). It changes. Edel still technically trains people to spot loft issues at setup (and if they're WAY off, it can matter), but don't rely on how hight he laser reflects back onto the backstop during your fitting.
If I think of anything I've missed, I'll add it, but for now, I hope this guide can help you get the best fit for your Edel putter that's possible. We take pride in offering a very thorough fitting. If your fitter doesn't do everything listed above, or especially if they don't do everything LIKE we've listed above, don't sweat it. But if they leave out a lot of these things, or fit you in a box or a patterned carpet with a desk right beside you, take caution!