As I am writing this article, thousands of my peers are assembling in Orlando, Florida to attend the Annual PGA of America Trade show. Being a Golf Pro in the desert Southwest makes the trek across county in our “season” pretty difficult but I have been lucky enough to have attended in the past. This event is over the top in both the sheer number of golf companies that attend and the colossal shrines the major manufacturers construct and the star power they recruit to show off their wares.
I remember walking thru Titleist’s booth the year they introduced the Pro V1 and meeting Cory Pavin. It is at this event that all of the major manufacturers unveil their new line of products for the upcoming year.
The buzz for 2013 is all about the Drivers. Lower spin, perimeter weighting, better adjustability and flashy colors will dominate TV screens and pages of golf publications for the next three months. Hit it farther and straighter, the dream of every golfer…In light of that I thought I would go “against the grain” so to speak and talk about putters.
As much as we hate to admit it, we all know that putting is the most important part of the game. To shoot par on a standard par 72 course, ½ of your shots are supposed to be putts. If you want to know why touring pros shoot such low scores look at how many putts they average. The average tour player takes under 28 putts per round. I average 33. If one of my 22 putters worked better and I could average 28 putts per round I would be vying for the Southern Chapter PGA Player of the Year award. Searching for that putting magic has done one thing, it has made me an expert on putters. Now that the USGA has more narrowly defined a legal putting stroke I will focus on conventional putters and not clutter the discussion with long or belly models (although they are still legal for a little while longer).
Being a coinsure I have found one fact about putters: Like everything else, you get what you pay for. I’m not a millwright or a caster, so I don’t know why it is, but the top of the line putters made by Titleist (Scottie Cameron), Nike (Method), Odessey, Ping and Taylor Made (Rossa) are true precision instruments that are sure not to disappoint.
Being impatient in my pursuit of par or better, I have made a personal observation about putters based on nothing but paranoia and circumstantial evidence.
#1: Putters must be punished for a poor performance. If one of my putters starts to let me down, it seems to perform better after a few months of a “time out” in the corner of my garage. Some of my best putting rounds have come after one of these time outs… Which leads to a tale of caution; you can’t capitalize on this retraining of the putter if your punishment is too severe. Unfortunately in my younger years a few of my old putters may have been lightly tossed toward an inanimate object (tree) or into a large body of water (lake)…Now after growing older and wiser I realize they were cast off with lots of good putts left in them.
All joking aside, in my opinion, if you are golfing year round in Arizona you need to own a minimum of two putters. Here is my reasoning. This time of year, when the greens are either dormant or overseeded, they are much faster and have much less grain than in the summer when the Bermuda is lush and full. Faster greens with little to no grain require a much shorter stroke that relies heavily on feel. Slower greens with grain require a much firmer stroke to keep the ball on line and stop it from falling off around the hole. For feel and control a lighter, blade-like putter is generally thought of as the right fit as evident by the predominance of this style of putter on tour where the greens can roll as fast as my tile floor. For the slower, grainier greens of summer a heavier, mallet-style putter is a better fit.
The moral of the story is don’t be afraid to try out different putters for different conditions or just to jump start your short game. It is one area of the game where sometimes it is the club and not the swing.