Does the length of your putter really matter? Absolutely! So why then can we only buy putters with a length of around 34 inches at our local pro shops?
The reason is very simple. The average man in United States of America stands at a height of 5 feet 10 inches and the distance between his palms and the floor is 32 inches. The average spine-angle tilt when addressing the ball is around 40 degrees. If this average man takes up a reasonably comfortable and athletic address position, the 34-inch putter will fit him just fine. A good example is Luke Donald, not only is he a great putter with a good stroke but also looks very comfortable with his standard-length putter.
So what is the correct length for you? It depends mostly on 1.) The distance between your palms and the floor; 2.) The angle of your spine when over the ball; and 3.) The bend of your elbows.
If you want to bend over the ball like Michelle Wie [right], thereby reverting back to the days before Lucy, make sure you have a short putter and a good orthopedic surgeon. You will need both.
But there are other ways to compensate for a short putter. Phil Michelson for instance, stretches his arms or -- in other words -- he putts with long arms. This is maybe not such a bad idea for longer putts but it is certainly not advisable for putts where directional control is at a premium.
The interesting point is that both Michelle and Phil are much taller than average but elect to combat the greens with much shorter weapons. That just does not make any sense and we know they have had more than their fair share of short putts not finding the hole. Could those misses be attributed to the length of their putters forcing them to make unnecessary compensations? A wise man once said that the fewer compensations you have to make, the more consistent your outcomes will be. And those consistent outcomes help you build more confidence in your putting.
Long putters have their complications as well. They are heavy and unresponsive, which limits feel and feedback. Now a lot of golfers might think that unresponsiveness or a high moment of inertia in a putter is a good thing -- and right you are! But as we know, there are limits. You need a balance between responsiveness and stability; feel and reliability.
A longer putter is probably a good option for those golfers suffering from the yips. Try a 39-inch putter and clamp the top of the grip against the inside of your left forearm, provided you play the game right-handed.
If you are substantially shorter or taller than average, it might be a good idea to have your putter fitted by a reputable club-fitter. For all of us average-sized people, may you have the right length to have a blast, at least on the greens.
Next Time: How to Find the Correct Loft for Your Putter
[Photo of Michelle Wie at the 2014 HSBC Women's Champions via Getty Images]