Rory McIlroy’s latest putter adjustment is important for all golfers. Here’s why

rory mcilroy shorter putter

Shortening the putter is a fairly painless process, provided you have a club builder who knows what they're doing.

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The putter carousel has remained in motion this season for Rory McIlroy, but there’s reason to believe things are trending upward following a promising run on the greens at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. McIlroy finished runner-up to the red-hot Lucas Glover with a Scotty Cameron T5.5 Proto mallet that seemed to get warmer as the week went on. McIlroy went from 50th in SG: Putting after the first round to 23rd at the completion of the event.

For someone who ranks 80th on Tour in SG: Putting, finishing the week inside the top 25 in the statistical category is a win. Outside of the head change, McIlroy also made a minor mid-tournament tweak that drew some attention. Following the second round, McIlroy said he noticed something was slightly off with his putter.

“It’s funny, I didn’t really notice it in practice, and then once I got into competitive play, I always put my right hand on my putter first to go in and out,” McIlroy said the following day. “I just felt like where my right hand was at the top, it just felt a little too up. So I compared it to my Spider last night, it was like half an inch. It wasn’t like a huge difference.”

McIlroy’s caddie, Harry Diamond, took the putter to a local Edwin Watts Golf where it was measured against his previous TaylorMade Spider X Hydro Blast. As it turned out, the Cameron was “close to a quarter-inch off,” according to store manager Jim Hudson.

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Shortening the putter is a fairly painless process, provided you have a club builder who knows what they’re doing. Once the old grip is removed, the shaft is cut down to the preferred length and a new grip is installed. For most weekend golfers, they’d assume the process was complete at that point.

McIlroy might have assumed the same had it not been for a conversation he had Saturday morning with a Scotty Cameron Tour rep who advised him to add a touch of weight to the putter to regain the swing weight it lost when it was shortened. McIlroy simply popped in heavier heel-toe weights and was on his way.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “swingweight,” it refers to the measurement of a club’s balance point based on a scale using a 14-inch fulcrum. A swing weight scale is a device specifically designed for the purpose of matching golf clubs for a feel and dates back to when golf clubs still used wooden shafts. Even with a putter, adding or removing weight is going to change how the putter feels in your hands.

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If you’re considering cutting down the gamer, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind. According to True Spec Golf’s vice president of fitting and education, Kris McCormack, removing a half-inch is equal to 3 swingweight points. And one swingweight point is equal to 2 grams. Using a half-inch as the example, you’d need to add 6 grams of weight back to the head to maintain swingweight.

Many of today’s putters have adjustable heel-toe weights that make altering total weight a cinch. But what happens if your putter doesn’t have adjustable weights? Lead tape would be the next best option. (A general rule of thumb: a 1-inch piece of lead tape weighs 1 gram.)

So the next time you think about making a length adjustment to your putter, take a moment to consider how much weight might need to be added back to the putter to maintain the same feel. It’s a good way to ensure an important variable doesn’t change without you knowing about it.

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Jonathan Wall Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at