More Putter Musings
Before I start today's article, let me bring you up to date on the Destiny Project. I told this story of a "blast from my past" last week. The Destiny putter was the first I ever designed, and launched my career that has included over 100 putter designs, wedges, irons ... even persimmon woods! But the culmination of this career is the revolutionary SCOR4161 precision scoring clubs – a total re-invention of the short end of the set that delivers proven improved performance for golfers of all skill levels.
But the Destiny started it all, and you can have one of the only 15 that will ever be made available. To see how this putter is made, click here.
And to get one of your own, with all proceeds going to charity, here's the link to the eBay auction.
Now, on to today's subject ...
Putting A New Putter in the Line-Up
I've been struggling with my putting for some time now, so badly that I even have taken a deep dive into the yips. Like happens to all of you, the more I fought the yips, the worse they got. Putts under 5' became more daunting than a 200 yard approach over water. I got more and more deeply wound up into the mechanics of putting, which put me deeper into a funk.
I've always putting with center-shafted, and/or face-balanced putters, as I believe in that technology. But two weeks ago, while rummaging through my putter archives, I ran across a putter we did at Reid Lockhart, working with Ben Crenshaw to exactly duplicate his most favorite Wilson 8802. We even developed new shaft technology and a shaft/head marrying device that delivered feel like the old "Headspeed" shaft that Ben loved. When we did that putter back in the late 1990s, I putted with it a little, but mostly it was for Ben.
So, just for grins, I took this old "Ben Crenshaw by Reid Lockhart" putter out and spent an hour or so on the putting green. Since it handles totally differently than what I've always used, I forgot all about mechanics and just focused on gripping it light and hitting putts at the hole. And it was amazing. My lag putting was extraordinary and I began to look at the hole from 3-10 feet with only positive thoughts. I was making everything. So it went into to the bag.
My last three rounds, putting with "old technology" and a putter that feels and handles nothing like I've used the past 25 years, have been the best three of the last year or more. My putting is even earning accolades around the club, quite the opposite of what I've earned the past few years.
My point of all this is that sometimes a radical change can do you good. If you are struggling with your driving, iron play or putting, go to your archives (most of us have some old favorites in the closet) and pull a sub. Put the regular starter on the bench for a while and see what happens.
If you get half as positive a result as I have, you'll be ecstatic.
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[ comments ]
Tim Horan says:
I can testify to the short term benefits however long term is a different matter.
I swap in and out whole iron/ wood/ wedge sets seeing little gain and in the end finding no confidence in anything that I find in the closet including jumpers and pants. Be careful here you could convice yourself that you just suck at golf. Stick with a set-up maybe change out putter occasionally but resist global change.
I am a chronic driver-hybrid-fw wood switcher. (It's ugly.) But I have stuck with my Bobby Grace DCT Sarasota so long that all of the ink on the grip has worn off and it is completely pure white. I have enuf trouble adapting to variable green speeds (mowing condition; time of day - dew, shadows, grain; variances from course-to-course, old nine - new nine, disease, top-dressing, etc.) I figure that by having at least one constant, I give myself one small "edge". Although, I've had the same wife for 35 years and she assures me I'm still lousy at that (too), so maybe the logic of constancy is flawed?
One thing I keep harping on is... in summation... scoring psychology. And it seems perfect that a technocratic approach to golf would expose the "Bogeyman" under the bed/ behind the curtain. Terry, I thank you for letting "the yips" into the discussion.
When I explain the game to new players, I break it down into three basic phases of development:
1. Moving the ball down the course: getting off the tee, staying in bounds, covering distance, learning pace of play, basic etiquette, using all of your clubs.
2. Bogey golf: Getting on the green, lag putting, proper scoring, beginning shot types, hitting it straight, rules of the game, swing mechanics, yardages/ basic adjustments, the right equipment.
3. Real Scoring - advanced rules of the games, shot shaping, strategical thinking, fine adjustments, professional gear, fine points of competition, increased palette of scoring shots/ shot control/ advanced mechanics, managing your bag, off-season plans.
In that vein, roughly, the more physical impediments you remove, the more psychological ones you expose - or leave room for. It's what makes the game so fascinating, and unmasterable.
But seriously, Ben Hogan's struggles with confidence in his shot and the adjustment he had to make to be competitive (loosely put). Wouldn't you expect those five lessons to include more about psychology?
In the modern sense, psychology hasn't changed as much as golf equipment or apparel, and we are always the same "Animal." The one area that deserves the closest attention is anxiety. Every person knows anxiety, and can handle it to varying degrees. This is normal. Anxiety begins, we deal with it in our own way, it builds or subsides, we deal some more, and eventually the anxiety recedes or stops based on the fear being removed.
The trouble with the yips is that it never goes away - there's always going to be another round, another short putt missed, another 2-dollar bet that could crush our spirit and cast us into the tiger pit of shame. I don't have the yips, and I still miss the occasional short putt. I don't suffer the anxiety of missing putts. I do get anxiety issues when playing very well - like I'm going to screw things up - but I've gotten much better at that. I hope those of you who have these kinds of issues pick up a psych text book and look into it; I'll be curious to see what you find, how it helps.
joe jones says:
When asked I have often said that Bernard Langer is one of the best putters ever. I base this on the fact that he has overcome the yips four times. The man has a steely mind and resolve that enables him to use what ever method he can devise to accomplish his goals. With the impending anchored putting ban he has indicated that he may retire if he has to find another method.That would be a terrible injustice. I can only hope the guardians of golf have a change of heart.
Re: Langer, etc (JoeJones) - it's all been said b4, but the btm line for me is *usage*. In hockey, ALL goalies use biggest, lightest pads they can get away with. Nobody uses Gump's old tiny little leather pads and curved blocker the size of an iphone. So it's clear that they all gain an advantage from the new gear. In golf, lots of players stick with the "old" technology, so it's NOT clear that the long putters, anchoring, etc. are a certain benefit. So why ban it? Warum!?
And of course, you know what Langer (or lang, at least) means in German? How uber-ironic.
His putter is Langer than others'?
I sometimes hit the older, almost antique clubs I have around. Makes me appreciate the new stuff! And, especially with putters, it can awaken parts of the eye/brain/nervous system than have become anesthetized to your current setup.
@onedollar - true. I putted a few w my buddy's Ping bullseye the other day. V similar to Johnnie Miller's in 74 US Open. Simple design (!), amazing balance.
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