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Advice for choosing the right putter

To give you a little change of pace, I asked some of GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Teachers what they tell students to look for in a putter. Here's what they say:

"Don't buy a putter off the shelf. The pros don't—they are fitted to the correct length, lie, weight and loft. It's the most valuable club in your bag so make sure it's set up just for you." —TODD SONES

"The No. 1 mistake people make is they buy a putter that is too long, then cut it down and lose the mass weight." —SCOTT SACKETT

"It should match the type of stroke—heel-shafted for an arcing stroke and face-balanced for straight back and through pendulum stroke. Lines are helpful if you have trouble aiming the head. A bigger grip takes the hands out of the stroke. Heavier is better than lighter, more loft is better than less loft." —DON HURTER

"A shoulder-driven stroke needs a face balanced putter. A hands-and-arm stroke, however, requires a non face-balanced putter." —GLENN DECK

"Offset shafts allow you to keep your hands ahead for better acceleration." —RICK BARRY

"Take five new-to-you putters plus your current favorite, along with your usual ball, and go to a nicely mowed, relatively smooth putting green. Select a spot that is three feet from the hole and a relatively straight putt. Starting with your current putter, try all the putters at three feet. Then move to six feet and test the putters still under consideration—by now, you've probably narrowed down to two or three candidates. Keep the ones you like best, and hit 25- to 30-foot putts to see the roll, distance and feel. Hit 12- to 15-footers to make your final selection." —ED IBARGUEN

"Base your fitting on aim—where you perceive the target to be and how much loft is on the putter. Consider the hosel configuration—the more gooseneck the more you'll tend to aim to the left; more mallet the more to the right you'll aim." —LAIRD SMALL

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