Putter Around Club Repair President Richie Conragan Jr. said he has seen quite a few changes during his nearly four decades in the golf business.
“Back in the day, it wasn’t efficient, but it was knowledge,” Conragan said. “It was practical experience and it was how we used to fit. What is great about technology today is, especially with these computers, is that it gives us information the naked eye can’t see.
“I ask people what the loft of their driver is and they will yell it out ‘9.5, or 10.5.’ Then I ask an individual what the loft of their putter is and they look at me like a deer in the headlights.” – Richie Conragan
“How that information is interpreted is always different person to person,” he added. “So it does take a technician to be very astute on the swing, the individual’s personality, the game itself, and of course what the data shows.”
That tech wave is visible at Putter Around in its SAM Puttlab, FlightScope and TrackMan, which is used outside. Flight Scope uses doppler radar, and Putter Around was one of the first in South Florida to use employ it.
Conragan, who has enjoyed recognition from Golf Digest as one of the Top 100 club fitters in the United States for the past 12 years, said SAM uses ultrasound.
“It is quite accurate and it shows how much the ball skids, and whether it rolls properly,” Conragan said. “It is a funny thing with putting. I ask people what the loft of their driver is and they will yell it out ‘9.5, or 10.5.’ Then I ask an individual what the loft of their putter is and they look at me like a deer in the headlights.
“I tell everybody in a joking way, ‘Who cares what the loft of a putter is? It is only 35 to 38 percent of the game.’
“Who cares how it rolls?” he added with a smile. “So what is great about the new technology today is, and Science & Motion will actually show us, what loft works best for that individual. It will show us whether the putter is too heavy or too light; whether it is too long or too short; or whether the style of putter fits your style of game. It tells us a lot of different facets of putting.”
Conragan said Putter Around categorizes customers as technical, non-technical, or somewhere in between.
“I think you have to work with the person’s character and their ability to fit them properly,” said Conragan, who has been in business for the past 38 years, with two locations – Woodlands Country Club in Tamarac and Westchester Country Club in Boynton Beach.
The assessment is simple. Go to Putter Around and show off your stroke. Conragan and SAM then analyze it.
The change process is not simple.
“I wish change was easy. If it was that easy, we’d all be on Tour today, but that’s not the case,” he noted. “Putting is really not an athletic move. It’s funny because a 90-year-old guy won’t change his swing, but he still believes he can change his putting stroke.
“I think putting is quite unique and we can always improve on it,” Conragan continued. “What this machine has done has given us more attributes on what is going on in regards to the stroke itself like balance issues, or whether the person moves or not. The definition of a good putting stroke is repetition.”
When it comes to stances or strokes, Conragan said SAM will show which one is more efficient, provided the technician knows how to read the data.
“This machine gives us all kinds of data and what we try to find out is what the individual is capable of doing,” he said. “If we can improve them 10 or 20 percent, they are very happy.
“What is great about the SAM putt lab is we give a six-page data printout that they can take back home or they can take it to their pro or they can work on it themselves,” Conragan said. “What we have been able to do in our putting sessions is be able to show people how they can do this away from us. We show them their faults, their mistakes and how they can do it themselves without the machine, so it is quite unique that way.”
A session can run up to two hours.
“We get $195 to put someone through the session, and if they are not completely satisfied, they don’t pay a nickel,” Conragan said. “It is not a time factor.”
Conragan, 61, a former professional golfer, has worked with LPGA, PGA and PGA Tour Champions players as well as top junior players, with talents ranging from mini-tour to Hall-of-Fame levels.
“I don’t think there is an array of people we haven’t worked with over 38 years,” Conragan said. “We take pride in what we do and I believe that that is why Putter Around has been around for 38 years. We believe in what we do. We don’t sell people things they don’t need.
“I wish golf was an exact science, but it is far from it. So you have to use all of the tools, and the knowledge that you have to fit somebody properly. Sometimes this works very easily and doesn’t take much time and other times it can take hours if not days. We are willing to do that here at Putter Around.”
Call (754) 701-5946 for more information.