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My search for putting success

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By Brant Brice

GolfWRX Contributor

What do we do when our putter fails us? How do we feel when that once beautiful piece of shiny exotic metal lets us down? Or that putter you’ve had for years and years that has always been the one club you swear you’ll never replace in your bag becomes replaceable, and no longer easily guides your ball into the hole? So starts the agonizing search for the new “it” girl in your golf bag to cure your newly found yips.

We have all found ourselves on the indoor putting green in a local golf superstore wading through 400 putters heavily promoted by 10 different mega brands? You get basically three choices: those that are identical in some way to Karsten’s original Ping Anser style putter, those that look identical to the 8802 iconic putter or the ones that look like a spaceship on a stick? Fourth option … Have you been glancing over at those hot new belly putters that will make you look cool like Keegan Bradley or Webb Simpson, or the senior tour broomstick long handle putters that make you look like Bernhard Langer? Did you actually pick one up and strike a ball with one secretly praying none of the sales guys would see you? Worse yet, a member from your club witnesses you taking a rip with a 43″ spaceship made out of outer space alloy. Don’t fret, I’m here to help … hopefully!

Like most of you I have gone through many, many putters. My collection sits at about eight right now. I play a mallet style from TaylorMade. I also have two putters that I am in love with that I purchased only as collectors pieces — a Ping A1 with the sound slot and an Acushnet Bullseye a la Corey Pavin. I also own a few Anser style putters including a broken Scotty Cameron, a Rife 8802 copy, and now a 41” replica of Fred Couples’ belly blade putter. And oh, a 27″ blade I cut down to see if Robert Garrigus was on to something (turns out he wasn’t, and my back still hurts from that experiment). I think I am a pretty good putter. I can read greens well, I have an amazing number of putts that I make from 20 to 40 feet, I lag very well, I tend to consistently start my putts on line, but my ego shattering misses are from inside 4 feet. That last part has become so insidious that naturally I started the search for the putter that could make me putt like Freddie C.

I was incredibly uncomfortable in the local shops testing the belly and broomstick models, especially the broomstick conceding in some way that I was a lousy putter and needed a crutch. I also felt dumb since I basically own one of each style already including a heavy putter. So why was I here? Every week on the TV we hear how the long putters will fix the yips, and how they have resurrected careers like Langer, Senior, Scott and Couples. The R&A and the USGA haven’t outlawed them (yet) and they have had some newly found success on the tours. So I built a belly putter that is 41″. I tested every belly putter in the usual stores and found 41″ to be well suited to my build. I took it to a course I don’t play and spent days testing the new weapon against my arsenal of dust collectors. What did I find? I found out quickly I needed to add weight since having the ability to manhandle the thing was a bad idea. I added a lot of lead weights, and the putter is now nearly 400 grams total. Results: I loved it from 40′-4′. I made a ton of long distance putts, and I start the ball on line very well. With it, I am a great lag putter, but I wasn’t very good from 4 feet and in and was still pushing the ball to the right. Turns out after four weeks practicing and tinkering, I was the same putter as I was with all of my other putters. I spoke to a PGA professional and within five minutes he had me rolling in 4 footers like they were 6″ putts. My ball position was too far back which encouraged me to push the ball and to take an ever wider open stance to counteract the push.

So do the longer putters help amateurs? I emphatically say no. Adam Scott, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, etc. are still far better putters with a standard blade than you or I are with our best putter. To them and to you, your best putter is going to be the one that feels the best in your hands and allows you to make a smooth tension-free stroke that inspires confidence. If you are going to venture into the belly market, understand that a belly putter swing comes from the shoulders not the hands. They do promote a much more relaxed swing, so if you find one that just feels better than what you have, you will in fact putt better.

Go see a professional and have your favorite putter fit to your swing, posture and grip. Then instead of dropping $300 on a new flatstick, pay the pro to give you a lesson after he or she sees your flaws. Finally, and here is the absolute secret to GREAT putting … PRACTICE. Stop machine gunning 100 balls with your driver once a week and wonder why your putting doesn’t improve and spend some quality time on the putting green practicing distance control, starting putts online and reading greens. Practice with one ball, not three. Put together a practice routine that adds pressure and covers distance, line and touch. You will save a ton of money and will actually lower your handicap.

P.S. If the fine folks at Cameron are reading, I could be persuaded to put that Taylormade putter back in my collection if a 34″ or 41″ Kombi shows up at my doorstep! Turns out my broken Studio Select 2.5 Cameron was a fake … but that’s another story!

Click here for more discussion in the “Putter Forum”

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Everything former Nike rep Ben Giunta said about working with Tiger Woods

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Ben Giunta, a former Nike Tour Rep and now owner of the TheTourVan.com, joined host Johnny Wunder and TXG’s Ian Fraser for the most recent installment of the Gear Dive podcast.

While you’ll want to hear everything Giunta has to say, his remarks about working with Tiger Woods are particularly notable, and we wanted to present them here for those of you who may be more textually inclined.

On Tiger Woods’ preferences for club testing

“He always does his testing at home. 99 percent of the time. Whenever Tiger showed up to an event he was ready to go. There was no tinkering with equipment at Tour events. All of the work we did with him, we would do a week prior.”

“Rick Nichols, who was my boss when I was at Nike…he was Tiger’s right-hand guy. He worked with him on pretty much everything. We would prep everything. Rick would go and work with him at home…at that time it was in Orlando. They would tweak and do everything they needed there. Then when he showed up to the tournaments, I could probably count on one hand the number of times he came into the trailer to get work done.”

“He was built different. He came to do his homework on the golf course and prepare for the tournament. He was not tinkering around with equipment when it came to tournament time.”

“Any time he would test anything during the week…it was for a backup. He was constantly searching for backup drivers and…woods. So if something happened…he already had done all of his work.”

On Tiger’s driver preferences

“We were always tinkering with different CGs. Obviously, there was a lot of special stuff made for him. He didn’t use an adjustable driver…until Nike got out of the equipment business. We were always making sure the center of gravity was perfect. He was very specific on face angles and how much loft he wanted to look at. And he always wanted the face angle to be pretty much the same.”

“We had to have different iterations with different lofts based on where his golf swing was…obviously, his golf swing changes a lot based on all of his injuries and swing changes…There were certainly times where he was swinging a driver that spec’d out at a true eight-degree head, then he’d be all the way up to 11 or 12 degrees sometimes.”

On Tiger’s consistency in iron preferences

“The only thing that ever really changed with Tiger’s irons…was the lie angle. But lofts…they have been the same since he played golf…It’s been the same specs for his entire professional and amateur career. Those specs haven’t changed but the lie angles have. As far as I know, he has never experimented with different iron shafts [True Temper Dynamic Gold X100]. They’ve always been the same…with wooden dowels down in the tips of the shafts.”

“He always had the mindset that he was going to manipulate the club to get the ball to do what he wanted it to do.

On the consistency of Woods’ wedge setup

“He’s evolved with different grinds depending on his delivery or what he’s trying to do technique-wise, he’s modified his soles a little bit over time…but he’s always kind of reverted back to your traditional dual sole.”

In addition to talking Tiger, Giunta discusses how he got a job on Tour, working with Rory McIlroy, tinkerers vs non-tinkerers, and what he’s doing now (and more) in the rest of the podcast.

You can listen below.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB 2018

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Tour News

WATCH: Tiger Woods on Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf

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Tiger Woods just appeared in a Bridgestone Golf Facebook Live video. While the audio isn’t the greatest (sounds like there’s some mowers rolling by), we’ve got to pass it along.

Check out the video below.

Woods initially discusses his wedges, before moving on to sharing some insights about how he hits his patented stinger–covering the ball, starting it farther right, and keeping his follow through short.

On his ball, the Bridgestone Tour B XS, which he presents as a softer ball well-suited to his swing, Woods says

“I need spin. I don’t spin the ball a lot. My swing has never produced a lot of spin. I’ve always been able to take spin off the golf ball–I grew up in an era where we played balata. What separated a lot of guys was the ability to take spin off the golf ball…to keep it below the tree line. There was a lot more movement in the golf ball.”

“My swing has naturally evolved. I’ve had different swings throughout the years, but each swing didn’t spin the ball a lot. So, when I get up to my long irons with a harder ball that most people would launch…I don’t. It falls out of the sky because it has so little spin.”

Woods mentioned that he hasn’t played Shinnecock since the course’s pre-U.S. Open makeover, but that he expects the course will be particularly difficult: an old-school U.S. Open with minimal graduated rough where it will be difficult to shoot under par.

Responding to comments, Woods sings Hazeltine’s praises and mentions he’d love to be able to wear shorts during PGA Tour events

“We play some of the hottest places on the planets and it would be nice to wear shorts…even with my little chicken legs,” Woods says.

Woods tells amateurs looking for more spin around the greens that they need a soft golf ball, mentioning that solid contact, maintaining loft, and allowing to club to do its job are key. Woods mentions that he has “a couple extra shots around the greens” thanks to the softness of his golf ball.”

We’ll next see the 14-time major champion in action at next week’s Memorial Tournament (which he discusses to wrap up the video).

 

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10 interesting photos from Tuesday at the Fort Worth Invitational

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GolfWRX is on the ground at Marvin Leonard’s famed pet project, Colonial Country Club, peeking into players bags and taking in the action on the driving range.

While you’ll want to take a trip through the buffet line, we’ve made you a plate of some of the tastiest morsels.

Absolutely savage new putter cover for Jon “Rahmbo” Rahm. Just killer.

Prettier than a new penny.

Spotted: Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI

Everything here is excellent. Just excellent.

More like Garsen Murray. Am I right?

If you were Aaron Wise standing over the winning putt at last week’s Byron Nelson, this is what it’d have looked like (of course, you’d have had a ball and the putter would be soled on the green, but you get the point…)

Abraham Ancer’s new Artisan wedges are simply incredible… All of this: Artisan star stellar stuff.

Rickie Fowler has gone grape.

You can’t fool me. You’re not Adam Hadwin, you’re a golf bag.

Is Patrick Cantlay considering a switch to a Cameron Napa?

Check out all our photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational below.

Tuesday’s Photos

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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