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Putter shaft offset versus onset

November 27 2009 at 10:16 PM
Scott  (Login Scottsunderpar)
from IP address

From what I understand of putting alignment, the aim of the putter is determined by a perpendicular setup of the face to the intended starting line rather than aligning a parallel alignment marking. The reason, many if not most putter designs do not have "parallel" alignment aid/s. If they do, they need to have reasonable front to back depth or the "parallel" markings would be too short to be of any real assistance.
Given my reasoning, why is it that most putter designs "hide" part of the top line and face with a forward offset shaft or hosel? When you look at these styles of putters, as much as a third or more of the available "alignment" topline/face is hidden. I feel this has an impact on the user's ability to maximise their correct alignment potential.
Personally I favor a putter with no offset and if possible with the front edge of the shaft aligned some way back from the face eg Seemore FGP. This leaves a clear view of the topline and the best possible chance of perpendicular alignment. I know there are schools of thought on offset giving various benefits, but when you look closely you will see that most putter offsets are only the shaft thickness or less (<3/8"). Would the benefit of better alignment potential outweigh any other offset benefit/s. Your thoughts?

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Geoff Mangum
(Login aceputt)

Putter Designers and Offset Hosels

December 5 2009, 8:03 AM 

Dear Scott,

Offset hoseling has been around since at least 1900. This Willie Park model was pretty popular between 1900 and the 1930s:

Willie Park putter 1900

Walter Hagen's Willie Park putter 1925

So was Bobby Jones' Calamity Jane:

Jones' Calamity Jane 1930s

Today, there is the plumber's neck ubiquitous on the Ping-style putters since the late 1960s and 1970s:

Karsten Solheim's Ping Anser

The original impulse was a little shady under the Rules, as the Rules prohibit any "convex" face in the equipment provisions and also prohibit any stroke that is a "push, scrape, or spoon."

There was an early club called a "spoon" and this sort of clubface was banned from the green as giving too much directional and other control to the golfer -- a putting stroke "must fairly hit" the ball, not take hold of the ball and throw it, as happens in a "push" in shuffleboard, a "scrape" by a rabbit's forelimbs and paws digging a hole on a links course, or a "spoon".

The offset with a goose-neck or plumber's neck design was sort of a way to take hold of the ball on the way by, with hands ahead of the ball at impact, and give the ball sort of a roll-toss or scoop. A bit shady, if you ask me, since it dilutes the "hit" called for by the Rules.

Tradition (or blind inertia) determines putter designs much more than purposeful innovation. It would be quite a stretch to attribute to putter designers any intent to "hide" the top line of the putter face.

The truth seems to be that putter designers of the past 100 years have never studied perception processes (too much trouble), and so don't know what they are doing with respect to the aiming visual and physical response of the golfer to the design. David Edel (David Edel Golf) is the first putter designer I have ever heard of who studies the effect of hosel design patterns on golfer perceptions in aiming the putter.

Golfers have long been repeating the old saw that "no good putter doesn't have his hands ahead thru impact" or words to that effect. Phil Mickelson repeats it, without saying why it might be so, in his recent book (Dec. 2009). Dave Stockton Jr. gives different explanations at different times, the most convincing one being that "hands ahead" (via forward press os a lagging of the putter thru impact somehow) basically firms up the back of the lead wrist by bowing the ligaments / tendons / cartilage in the structure. So? Apparently, this a) prevents "flipping wrists thru impact" and b) makes the movement more definitive and therefore controllable for line and touch. Eh, what're you gonna do?

The offset hoseling is not really needed to do what needs doing, even if you forward press or otherwise simply firm up the muscle tone in the lead wrist area without forward pressing. It's just something that got started in putter designs a long time ago and keeps on a-rollin' like the muddy river no one can stop.


Geoff Mangum
Putting Coach and Theorist

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This message has been edited by aceputt from IP address on Dec 5, 2009 3:47 PM

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Larry Stanley
(Login OnePuttLarry)

Re: Putter shaft offset versus onset

December 9 2009, 12:19 AM 

Scott, I agree with you about preferring a putter without an offset...I don't like to see the shaft hanging out in front of the ball...too distracting. A minimal offset might be okay.

Larry Stanley

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