Finding the Putter that Fits


Yes, the long drive that splits the fairway is a thing of beauty, and a perfect approach is satisfaction guaranteed. But it’s on the green where strokes are quickly won – and lost – and the tale of the golf day is told. In an even par round of golf 50% of the strokes are putts!

What type of putter compliments my particular stroke? Why do I miss putts the way I do?  What do I need to work on to improve? Good questions – and we got answers during a putter fitting with Ken Johns, Miles of Golf Putter Fitting Specialist. With SAM Lab technology and years of experience, Ken zeroed in on our putting particulars.

Everyone needs a putter that fits. Spend some minutes with an experienced club fitter who can expertly evaluate your physique, posture and stroke. Or go for a putter fitting session with state-of-the art technology that analyses the distinctive features of your stroke, identifies areas for improvement and suggests the putter best suited to your game.

An experienced club fitter looks at height, arm length, posture at set-up, hands, grip and stroke to suggest a putter that fits well. The right putter is a confidence booster – and who doesn’t need some confidence around the cup?

Sam Lab technology enables us to look closely at multiple variables in a golfer’s putting including face, path, rotation and tempo. Head style of a putter should compliment the golfer’s stroke and SAM Lab picks up vital info about stroke path and rotation that no natural eye can see. Am I swinging straight back and through or arcing? Am I always aiming – and missing left? Am I rotating the face too much? How about swing tempo? Sam Lab is a fountain of information.

One golfer, one experienced club fitter, one hour and the latest technology yielded the following personal putting info.

  • Consistently aiming left of target
  • Set up too closed, leaning over too much
  • A straight back, straight through stroke
  • Too much rotation, opening and then closing the club face too much at impact
  • Too small a grip
  • A very slow and too long backswing
  • Good loft!
  • Plenty of info for future putting practice – personalized “putticulars”ir max on sale

BASIXX Club Fitting: High-Lofted Fairway Wood

We play better with clubs suited to our individual swings … and playing better is so much fun! Get a club fitting … have more fun!

Step into a club fitting studio at Miles of Golf and you’re in for a treat. There’s an almost spa-like feel – quiet and private. The walls are lined with the demo clubs. There’s TopTracer technology on hand, but that’s not the central player. That starring role goes to the MOG certified club fitter, in our case, Jacob Coudret, affable, approachable, and supremely knowledgeable.

As we step inside we know we’re in for a great time. So begins our BASIXX
fitting session, on the hunt for a high-lofted fairway wood – a 9 wood.

The Buzz about High-Lofted Woods

High-lofted fairway woods are having a moment.  Says Golf Magazine:

“Professionals have been switching in droves to higher-lofted fairway woods. While long irons and even hybrids can be difficult to hit because of their small heads, high-lofted fairways offer higher launch, spin and forgiveness to help hit the ball longer and straighter.”

Getting Started

Jacob gathers up some demo clubs while I warm up with my own 6 iron and 7 wood. He’s making some mental notes. It’s all very low-key and relaxing. Then we’re down to business,

Meet Some New Fairway Woods


The next step is a cross between speed dating and a kid in a candy shop. Jacob offers a number of clubs from different manufacturers.  Lighter, heavier, longer, shorter – it’s fun to try them out. As a certified club fitter, Jacob has a trained eye – and he’s got TopTracer as well which he uses to make the case. Back and forth we go with these clubs. Finding the right one is a combo of facts and feel.

The Verdict


Sometimes it’s a lightning bolt, a club that awes with feel and performance, seemingly made just for you. Hitting the XXIO 12 Fairway Wood was a wow moment, again and again. Even mishits were good.  Interesting though, there’s not always a Eureka moment – in 2021 I went home with the 14-year-old driver I came with, secure – and surprised – in the knowledge that that club was best for me.


    • Leave your preconceptions at the door. “I like a heavier club”  … then left with the lightest club on the market.

    • Looks matter. A club’s appearance to you at address is important. Visual clues (or distractions) factor into how you hit the ball.

    • It isn’t just a fitting – it’s an education. Jacob explained the dynamics of getting the ball up in the air to travel farther.  We talked lofts throughout the bag.

    • It isn’t just a fitting – it’s a blast.

The Good Golf Partner – A Fine Art

There’s a personal pantheon of folks I love to play golf with. They have that spot-on combo of thoughtfulness and golf smarts. Some have a great game of golf and others are almost beginners. What they have in common is the fine art of being a good golf partner.

After you’ve trekked together over hill and dale, missing shots, finding hazards, taking penalties, are there smiles for the mission accomplished? That’s what a good partner brings to the game.

Here are some good partner habits worth acquiring…

Be on Time
There’s so much to think about on the first tee – “Where is my partner?” shouldn’t be in anyone’s mental mix. Get to the course early with plenty of time for all the pre-game details. Orderly and unrushed – that’s a great way to start a round together.

Be Quick
We’re not talking speed golf here, just an ever-efficient mindset. Gauge yardage, select a club, read greens while others are playing – when it’s your turn, you’re ready. Be smart with your cart too.

Attitude is everything.
No matter how you’re playing, keep it upbeat. Stressed out? No sharing. Your bad mood is no one’s idea of a good day on the golf course.

4 Eyes Are Better Than 2
Always track the path of everyone’s ball, and join in the search when a ball is lost.

Be Prepared
An extra ball marker, energy bar, the tab for the snack cart, the tip at the pro shop – those are the little kindnesses a good partner has at the ready and offers up at just the right moment. The small, thoughtful gesture goes far on the golf course.

Just Don’t Offer Up Any Unsolicited Golf Advice
The reasons are too numerous, and the consequences too complex to mention. Unless you’re a golf pro, keep your personal “6 Sure Steps to a Better Golf Swing” all to yourself.

And last, but surely not least …
Raise a glass to the good golf partner, she of generous gestures and bullet
proof humor. Long may we appreciate what she does for our golf game!

This article was first published in May 2012.

4 Reasons to Join a Golf League

Thinking about joining a golf league, but nervous?  Or maybe you’re seeking more structure in your golf, or more partners, or more fun/focus/competition? This post is for you …

There’s a golf league for EVERYONE – and now’s the time to join. Here’s reasons why:

  1. A League for Every Taste and Talent – There are leagues for learners and leagues for old hands, leagues geared for working folks, leagues that travel to the most challenging courses in the area, leagues that offer tournaments, morning leagues, evening leagues – you name it, you can find it.
  2. Play More, Play Focused – Leagues put a golf date on our calendar so every week we’ve got at least one game. Plus, the structured format of league play makes us focus – you can’t get that exact, zoomed-in level of attention at a driving range.
  3. Friends Indeed – League play opens up a world of new playing partners – and friends. You’re sure to find folks whose golf game attitudes match your own. And don’t forget about old friends – leagues can foster the bonds of those connections too.
  4. Pay As You Go – Cost is typically based on how many events you choose to play.

Golf Journal Is A Golf Gem

There’s a fabulous golf improvement device, sure to improve your game, and it only costs a couple of dollars.  Run, don’t walk, to your nearest office supply store and pick up a notebook and pencil.  It’s one of the greatest golf aids around — your own golf journal.
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Golf is an endless LEARNING experience, so take notes!  Capture a lesson, log a practice, note a particular success on the course.  A journal can be anything you want it to be!

Ever take a lesson, return to practice the following week and realize you’ve forgotten a lot?  Take time at the end of every lesson to review important points with your instructor.  Write them down – and write down your “homework” too.  You’re paying good money for this info – so keep it!
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To start with, make two sections in your notebook:

  • “Before I Hit the Ball” –  Use this area to collect notes on grip, stance, posture, aim, ball position.
  • “When I Hit the Ball” –  Collect info on the swing itself, things like club path, club face, weight transfer, etc.

With your instructor’s help, note your tendencies in both areas and specific drills to improve these tendencies.  Use drawings, squiggles, stick people.  Get creative.  With this basic framework you will have a working system to capture – and remember – golf information that is personal to you.  This will be very helpful when you go out to practice.

Log your practice sessions: what you’re working on, what’s successful, what’s not, ball trajectory, questions that arise.  All this info will be very useful, giving continuity to your practices and info you can share with your instructor next time you meet.
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Expand your notebook and make it yours.  Use it to keep all kinds of info, memories and reminders.  Some thought-starters:

  • Specific topics, like  “Chipping – What To Remember” or “Putting – Ideas that Work”
  • Equipment Wish List – clubs, balls, etc
  • People & Places – List of fun folks and great courses to play this summer!
  • Golf books to read, Golf blogs to look at
  • On-course journal – logging games played, where, with whom, highlights, etc.

The sky’s the limit with the information you put in your journal – and with the benefit you get out of it.  People who keep notebooks refer to them when they feel their swing getting off.  They can start to solve their own flaws – and be their own instructor!

Shirley Spork, Teaching Pro and Founder of LPGA, Dies at 94

New York Times, April 12, 2022

Shirley Spork, one of the most prominent teaching pros in women’s golf and one of the last survivors among the 13 women who founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1950, died on Tuesday at her home in Palm Springs, Calif. She was 94.

Her death was announced by the L.P.G.A. a little more than two weeks after she was inducted into its Hall of Fame, leaving Marlene Bauer Hagge as the last living co-founder of the women’s tour.

Spork finished second in the 1962 L.P.G.A. Championship but never won on the women’s tour. Her legacy, apart from her role as a pioneer of the women’s pro game, lay in her tutoring countless women, from duffers to fledgling pros, and in creating schools to help would-be teachers pass on her knowledge to their own students.

Spork received the Ellen Griffin Rolex Award, the L.P.G.A.’s highest teaching honor, in 1998. She was inducted into the inaugural class of the L.P.G.A. Teaching and Club Professional Hall of Fame in 2000. She won the 2015 Patty Berg Award for contributions to women’s golf and was named the L.P.G.A. Teacher of the Year in 1959 and 1984.

In 1947, while attending Michigan State Normal College in Ypsilanti, outside Ann Arbor — a teachers school now known as Eastern Michigan University — Spork won the first national intercollegiate golf championship for women. She graduated with a degree in physical education two years later.

During the 1950 golf season, she joined with leading women’s players, including Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Patty Berg, Louise Suggs, Betty Jameson and Marilynn Smith, to form the L.P.G.A. But in its early years, prize money was meager, the tournaments received little attention in the sports media, and the players jammed together in automobiles as they traveled around the country.

They often attended church services while on tour, and Spork generally placed a small check in the collection basket.

“At one stop, in Waterloo, Iowa, the good monsignor, an ardent golfer, noticed that I had not finished well that week in the prize money,” she told Mona Vold in “Different Strokes: The Lives and Teachings of the Game’s Wisest Women” (1999). “I received my check back with a note saying: ‘You need this more than God does.’”

The women were creative in promoting themselves. They showed up at minor league baseball games to promote their nearby tournaments and arched 9-iron tee shots from home plate to center field. “We had an item to sell, which was ourselves and our talent,” Spork told The New York Times in 2011.

Spork provided tips to female golfers in a pair of articles for Sports Illustrated in the late 1950s. Some of her suggestions involved technical details.

“Because a woman’s proportions are different from a man’s, the average woman golfer has a tendency to overswing,” she wrote in advising women to “restrain the excessive hip turn, which seems like a source of power but which is in actuality the defeater of alignment, balance and power.”

She also urged women to be confident. “Women take more lessons than men but, unlike men, almost never practice by themselves,” she wrote. “Independent practice away from the instructor will give a player the confidence without which it is impossible to play a really good round of golf.”

Spork concluded that she would be hard-pressed to compete for prize money with the more experienced players, so she concentrated on instructional work while playing part time on the L.P.G.A. Tour.

During the 1950s she became the first female club pro at the Tamarisk Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and gave lessons to celebrities, including Nat King Cole, Harpo Marx, Dean Martin and Danny Kaye.

Later in the decade, Spork and Smith were instrumental in founding the L.P.G.A.’s teaching division, now known as L.P.G.A. Professionals. Joining with the L.P.G.A.-U.S.G.A. Girls Golf initiative, the division has spurred a growth in junior golf, something that Spork had long supported.

Shirley Spork was born on May 14, 1927, in Detroit, where her father was an electrical engineer and her mother was a clerk in a pharmacy. Her parents didn’t golf, but the family home was adjacent to the Bonnie Brook Golf Course.

At age 11, Spork began scaling a high stone wall separating the fairways from the street during the evening hours, scooping up lost balls and selling them to people passing by. When she was 13, she used her earnings to buy a putter and a 7 iron and began hitting balls on the neighborhood course late in the day.

“There were no junior golf programs, so the only way I learned was by going on the golf course and playing it myself,” she said in an interview for the L.P.G.A. Women’s Network website in 2018. “The golf ranger would come around and scurry me away, but that didn’t keep me away from the golf course for too long.”

Spork, the runner-up four strokes behind Judy Kimball at the 1962 L.P.G.A. Championship in Las Vegas, won $82,720 in career prize money. She usually confined her tournament play to the summer while teaching during the winter at country clubs, most of them in California.

Respect for the Golf Course

Ever watch an outstanding golfer taking care of business around the course? It’s a thing of beauty and inspiration – and we’re not talking about awesome swings and low scores. As we head into the heart and heat of the summer season, let’s hear it for the players who treat the course with care.

It’s not easy being green … a golf course takes a tremendous beating. A properly repaired ball mark takes only a day to mend – it’ll be a 3-week scar if we don’t do it right. Those lifeless sods of turf on the fairway are sad testament to players who didn’t take 15 seconds to replace and repair divots. Bunkers – there IS a proper way to rake them. And cart damage – don’t get us started down that path!

USGA has good tips on course care: Being a Good Player Does Not Make You a Good Golfer

Golf’s a game of R-E-S-P-E-C-T – for traditions and honor, for partners and competitors, for the meaningful moments and indescribable pleasures the game gives us. Let’s give back by taking care of business around the course. Leave it better than we found it, smooth the way for all who follow us, and gladden the hearts of grounds superintendents everywhere.

High-Lofted Fairway Metals vs. Hybrids

From the Miles of Golf Club Fitting Staff

One of the most common issues in golf is the inability to hit lower lofted irons consistently, with a high enough trajectory to stop the ball on a green or near a desired target. The solution to this problem can usually be found in some sort of hybrid iron or high lofted fairway metal. These types of clubs are much more forgiving and will produce a higher ball flight compared to an iron with the same amount of loft. But which one should you play?

Both high lofted fairway metals and hybrids can act as a good replacement for lower lofted irons because the head shape has a larger overall surface area and the shafts are longer in length than a conventional iron. This larger head shape helps with forgiveness and higher overall trajectory by shifting the center of gravity or “CG” of a club head farther away from the club face. As the distance between the club face and the CG of a club head increases, so does forgiveness, launch angle, and spin rate. Because trajectory is a product of launch angle, spin rate, and ball speed, using a club with rear placed CG, like a hybrid or fairway metal, produces a higher launch angle and increased spin rate, while the added shaft length can help improve club head speed, hopefully translating into more ball speed. Furthermore, the added forgiveness can provide more consistency, and the higher trajectory increases stopping power from longer distances.

There are differences between fairway metals and hybrids as well. The first being versatility. A hybrid typically has a slightly smaller head than a fairway metal. This smaller head allows the club head to travel through long and thick grass more easily. Hybrids also have shorter shafts than fairway metals, which can offer more control and accuracy. In contrast, the longer shaft of a fairway metal makes it easier to generate more club head speed than a hybrid. However, the larger head shape makes these clubs better suited for shots from shorter grass or off the tee. Another main difference between fairway metals and hybrids is the aforementioned CG placement. The larger head of a fairway metal places CG even farther back than a hybrid. Once again, leading to more forgiveness, higher launch and increased spin rate. Even though these might not be quite as versatile as hybrids, they are great for producing high trajectory shots that land soft. 

When deciding on which type of clubs to put in your bag, it’s important to consider your individual game and style of play. Most players carry a combination of irons, hybrids, and fairway metals, but the mix can vary. If you are looking for a lower, more penetrating ball flight, a low lofted iron might be in your best interest. However, if you would like to add some forgiveness, versatility, and higher trajectory to your long distance shots, a hybrid could be the answer. If you need to add even more height and forgiveness to your long game, a high lofted fairway should be the answer.  Most importantly, find the right club that fits your individual needs and helps you play better golf. 

Good Manners in the Bunker

When you see your ball bound into a bunker you know your round just got a little tougher.  And what’s a player to do, but shake off dejection and bound into the bunker too.  Just don’t shake off the etiquette.  Be thoughtful and fair to other players and maintain pace of play.  Here are 10 tips just for the sand.
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  • Before you go into bunker, pick appropriate club, visualize your shot and take your practice swing in the grass.
  • Enter at low point near your ball. Protect those fragile, high-maintenance bunker faces.
  • Don’t touch sand with club or rake to test conditions. This isn’t etiquette – it’s the rules.  (Good to know – under NEW Rules 12.2a and 12.2b, the player is now allowed to touch or move loose impediments in a bunker.  Read about that here.)
  • Take same path out of the bunker to minimize raking and time.
  • Leave no footprints behind.  Rake it back and forth, nice and smooth, and use the back of the rake too.  No ridges, please.
  • Put the rake in its place.  In Misc./2 Decision the USGA admits there’s no perfect answer for position of rakes, but recommends placing them outside the bunker.  In addition, The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America recommends that rakes outside the bunker be placed flat on the ground (tines up) and parallel to the hole’s direction of play. These guidelines seek to minimize rakes’ influence on play.  Extra etiquette points for placing rake at some distance from other rakes, saving steps for the next sand-bound soul who comes this way.
  • Some courses ask that you leave the rake inside the bunker, so pay attention.
  • Lend a hand.  Sometimes a player gets out of the bunker but is still the next to play.  She’s got to rake, dust herself off, move to her ball, size up her shot, pick her club,  all those things.  If you’re nearby, offer to rake while she prepares for her next shot.
  • Speaking of smooth moves, have you noticed the way the pro’s bang their shoes with their club after they exit a bunker?  It’s an emphatic, “I’m-out-of- there!” flourish.  Probably worth a try.
  • A matter of terminology.   You won’t find “Sand trap” in the Rules of Golf. “Bunker” is the word for it.
  • And check out the USGA video on bunker etiquette!

Tips on Tipping at the Golf Course

Run down your get-me-to-the-golf-course mental checklist. Clubs, check. Shoes, check. Glove, hat, balls, check, check, check. Sunscreen, got it. Dollar bills to tip the bag boy?  Whoops!

Bag boy, beverage cart driver, golf pro, caddie…. Where does tipping start, and please, where does it end? Is there any one who has not driven the cart directly to their car after a round just to avoid all the confusion?

If you play at municipal courses you probably won’t encounter tipping situations, but sooner or later in the universe of golf you’ll find yourself face to face with a person who has given you a service. What to do?  We’ve collected golf tipping guidelines from local pros and from the web, mere suggestions and educated guesses to help navigate one of the biggest mysteries in golf – tipping.

Generosity generalities
Adjust gratuities according to where you’re playing and the level of service you receive. If you’re at a high-end course, tips should be higher. And if you’ve received outstanding service, a larger tip is always appropriate and welcomed.

Bag Drop
Taking your bags from car to cart, $1-3 per bag.
On the return, taking bag to car including cleaning, $2-5 per bag.

Beverage Cart Driver
25% with a $1 minimum is about right. And if it’s an outing where the refreshments are free, you should still tip. Folks rely on tips to supplement their wages.

Not usually, unless something out of the ordinary has been done.

If you’re playing at a course with a caddie, you’re at a high-end place. A tip on top of a caddie fee is expected. Tips might range from $30 for a rookie caddie, all the way up to 20, 30 40 or even 50% of the caddie fee.  Caddies are usually independent contractors who rely on your tip. Some courses discretely post recommended gratuities.

Golf Instructor
A tip is always appreciated, but is not customary.  If an instructor has rocked your golf world, go ahead and show your appreciation.

Club Personnel
If you belong to a club, don’t forget the folks who man our clubhouses, listening to our personal play-by-play wrap-ups, answering our questions, carting our clubs, attending to our needs over the whole season.  Instead of handing over a tip each time you golf,  you might give a larger tip a few times over the season.

Sometimes It’s No Tip
Some high-end clubs have a no-cash policy throughout the property. Members’ fees cover the gratuities and an employee would refuse your tip. Always good to inquire ahead about gratuities before visiting.

“Got it!”
Let’s all strive to be that partner who says, “I’ve got this” and covers the tip!

Disclosure:The author is related to a former bag boy!

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