What is a Putter?
This seems like a simple question, maybe even obvious, but when you’re setting out to create something different, something unique, you need to start with the basics. For David Edel, that meant figuring out what a putter is supposed to do. His answer was twofold: 1) a putter is an aiming system. 2) a putter is a motion system. With these principles established, he set out to develop to best putter fitting system in golf.
Edel’s Triad of Putting
In Edel’s view, putting consists of three things: Aim, Speed, and Path. In the middle of that triangle, your green reading decisions exist. Those decisions are impacted by the three outer points, and those three outer points all influence each other.
If one piece is off – bad aim, for example – your speed and path need to compensate. That leads you down a road of guesswork that will likely end in frustration and maybe a putter in the lake. And since Edel’s research has shown that only 3% of golfers can accurately aim their current putter, aim is where the fitting starts.
When it comes to Edel putter fitting, you’d be hard pressed to find a better fitter than Matt Jones. Matt is Edel’s Master Fitter, responsible for training all the new Edel fitters. I met him at Bull Valley Golf Club in Woodstock, Illinois on a beautiful sunny day to learn more about Edel and find a new putter.
As we drove up to the practice green, I saw the Edel putter fitting system. This compact set up houses a mix of head shapes, necks, and weights that allows for 22 million combinations, so every player can find their perfect flat stick. As with every top tier fitting system I’ve seen, I was blown away by the countless options, but I trusted my fitter to guide me through them in the best way possible.
The Fitting Part 1: Aim
The set up for testing aim is simple and elegant – a black screen approximately six feet from the player, a “cup” against the screen, a laser, and a mirror. The player sets up behind a ball with the mirror attached to their putter face. When they feel that they’re aimed at the cup, the fitter removes the ball and reveals where the putter is actually aimed. If you have an ego about your aim, prepare to have it deflated: I found myself aiming everywhere from six inches left to a foot right, depending on the putter in my hands.
The phrase that Matt Jones kept using during the fitting was “matching feel to real.” When standing over every putter, I felt that I was aimed at the hole. The reality was that I was aiming wildly. The fitting exposed that, then worked to help me find a putter where my feel of aiming at the hole was real.
How does Edel change your aim? By changing the head shape, hosel, and alignment aids. There are three heads in the Edel fitting system ranging from a thin, square blade to a large, round mallet. To that, add three different hosels – offset, straight, and onset. Finally, with the use of a stencil and a dry erase marker, your fitter can put any combination of lines and dots on the putter. While Edel has learned some rules of thumb about aim over the years, every player is unique in how they will react to these different elements. Sometimes two elements cancel each other out, other times they will act in concert to cause a player to aim off the planet.
My aim fitting moved quickly with Matt Jones deftly changing necks, lines, and heads, constantly handing over a new putter, checking my aim, and making adjustments. While it was fast, the process was anything but linear. There were times where I felt like I was getting better and then the next putter would have me aiming into the trees. At one point I got a bit frustrated and asked, “How good is good enough? That was pretty good, right?” But Matt doesn’t fit for pretty good. Throughout the process he was learning about my personal aim tendencies and didn’t stop until we found a combination that got me aiming dead center.
Torque Balanced Putters & Pixl Inserts
I’m going to take a brief interlude from the fitting to explain the Torque Balanced properties that make Edel putters look unique and perform unlike anything else.
A number of years ago, David Edel was testing different putters with a training aid that he built. The aid was essentially a shaft that would rotate freely in whichever direction the putter head pulled it. He found that every putter, even face balanced ones, wanted to flop open during the stroke. The reason for this is that we measure toe hang while holding the putter parallel to the ground, but we putt with it on an inclined plane.
Knowing this, David set out to build the Torque Balanced putter. This required that the axis of rotation go through the center of the putter and that the mass of the putter be evenly distributed. This is why you see all of the weight milled out of the toe. The hallmark of the Torque Balanced putter is that it sits “toe up” when held parallel to the ground and when it’s in a playing position. By removing torque from the putter, Edel has removed “toe hang” from the fitting equation.
The Fitting Part 2: Weight
Back to the fitting. With the head shape, neck, and alignment aids in place, we moved to finding the correct weighting. While other manufacturers may allow you to adjust the head weight, Edel goes two steps further by varying the counterweighting in the grip and using Opti-Vibe inserts in the shaft.
The weight fitting starts by checking your current set up. Matt Jones placed a string fifteen feet from me and asked me to roll five putts to the line. You can see the initial results above – a huge dispersion. This is a huge problem. Hitting an approach to fifteen feet is a big accomplishment, and it ought to result in a real birdie chance with a tap-in par at worst. What I saw was that I was not getting the ball to the hole most of the time, and I was often leaving a lot of work for the second putt.
Again, Matt Jones went to work swapping in head weights, counter weights, and Opti-Vibes. Some set ups were dismissed after one putt, others were given the full five balls to show whether or not they worked. I assumed that over time I would get better at putting to the string because I was standing there doing it a lot. Wrong. The changes in weight and weight placement were so substantial that every series of putts felt like something totally new.
While it might seem that all these options would cause a lot of confusion, when the right combination clicked, we both knew it immediately. My stroke flowed better and the results improved markedly. You can see the winning dispersion above: birdie putts that got to the hole and, if they didn’t do in, would cause my playing partners to say my favorite words, “That’s good.”
During the weight fitting, I also learned about my putting stroke. This kind of learning is the hallmark of great fittings, in my experience. Matt Jones explained that there are two types of putters: radial accelerators and linear accelerators. While I don’t feel qualified to explain the difference, I learned that for the last few years I’d been fighting what Matt saw as my natural style. I’m really excited to get on the greens with this new understanding and a flat stick that’s correctly weighted for my natural stroke.
With all my specs determined, the only things left to decide were the cosmetics. Edel offers a few different finishes, custom stamping, and custom paintfill. I made my choices and prepared for about two weeks of staring out the window waiting for the delivery.
If you’re ready to take a massive step forward in both understanding your putting and being a better putter, schedule a fitting with your local Edel fitter today. It will be the best 45 minutes you ever spend on your game.