The Importance of Knowing Where You’re Going!

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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Recently, I had a “club fitter” come out to Black Mesa Golf Club to help my students by fitting them for wedges and putters.  Naturally, I was viewing this as a method of increasing my sales and bottom line, but the outcome was quite shocking for me personally.

After the fitter, (who by chance is my son in law, Henry Stetina), had done a fitting, I was intrigued by the process and the outcome.  He knew that I was curious and asked if I wanted to go through the process. I am what you would have to call ‘old school’ as far as golf professionals go which means that while technology is good… experience is better. After my fitting, I think I may have to move into the new century.

When we started the process I was certain that I was a great putter.  After all, winning tournaments and playing well had been a staple of my life for many years. The last decade this had changed but I had refused to accept the fact that my scoring portion of my game had diminished. Henry first asked me to take my putter and aim it at a hole sized target. He had a laser in the target beaming back to my putter, which now had a reflective mirror on the face. There was a black curtain behind the aiming target, which would tell him where in relation to the target I was actually aimed.

This is important because being miss-aimed will cause the player to adjust the path of the putting stroke trying to get the ball to roll towards the target. How many times do you hit putts that seem to wobble as they roll or hop almost immediately after being struck?  We blame this on the putting surface normally and go on our way.

Well you see my aim point was not on the curtain, in fact it was almost off the western hemisphere. As a teaching professional, I was in shock that after decades of preaching proper aim I was the worst offender of my own teaching.

Henry put me through the entire process and by this point my daughter, a professional at the TPC Scottsdale, had joined him and they both seemed to relish showing me the brave new world of blending science with teaching.

I was aimed left and low meaning that I had de-lofted the putter face and compounded this by aiming far left. My stroke now would have to add loft and re-direct the ball back to the intended line.  When you get to age 62, the only real re-direction you want is having the ice tea in the fridge closer making it easier to reach.  Well, in my case, my fridge was in a neighbor’s house in the next city.

When I get my new putter I will share with you the brave new world I will be going into where I am aiming correctly and how it has an effect on my game. 

The moral to this, if there is a moral to all this, would be go to a professional and get equipment that is right for the job. I recommend a trained PGA professional whose job it is to make sure you get better equipment. Shop around and see what different fitters say, a little research here goes a very long way. I hope my next report is to tell you how silly I have been for not doing this long before, and I will have to tell my young son-in-law that father may not have known best on this one!!

Tom Velarde is the Director of Golf at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email