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DJ’s new putter has a “T-line,” and the reason explains exactly why you need to get fit

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In 2017, Dustin Johnson used a TaylorMade Spider Tour Black that had no sightline on the crown. At the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions — where he happened to win by 8 strokes — DJ had two, perpendicular sightlines on his Spider putter; TaylorMade calls it a T-line. And if the reason why he changed putters doesn’t explain why you need to get fit, I’m just not sure what does.

Here’s what happened in an account from TaylorMade:

“[Dustin Johnson] was struggling with his putting end of last season, punctuated by his lost lead in China after struggling on the greens. Keith Sbarbaro [his fitter and VP of Tour Relations] met with him in Carlsbad at the putter lab to solve his woes. The Tour team built 12 identical Spider Tours, each with different sight lines (long, short, dots, etc.). He hit 5 putts (flat, 15 footers) with each sightline in the lab. The putters with the long lines he was aiming upwards of 10 inches left of the hole. The short line model(s) he lined up left edge. The one he used all last year with no line was 1 inch left of center, but the “T-line” model was right at dead center nearly every putt…”

It’s amazing to me that the World No. 1 golfer, who won four times in 2017, could be aiming upwards of 10 inches left of the target. I don’t care if it’s an old-school 8802-style putter with no sightline, that’s eye-opening to hear a golfer of his caliber can be that far off with his aim from 15 feet. It just goes to show how much the look of a putter, and the alignment lines, can have an affect on your aim. And it also explains to us mortals that we should be doing the same test for ourselves before buying a putter.

Apparently, DJ needs a “T-line” to aim properly. But every golfer is different. Next time you have access to a putter fitting, or any alignment feedback device, take advantage of it. Try different putters, models, styles and sightlines to see what works best for you… it just may save your putting.

Related: Dustin Johnson’s Winning WITB from the 2018 Sentry TOC

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Stephen Finley

    Feb 21, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Or, you could figure out what’s actually wrong with your eyeline-to-putter-to-target relationship and simply adjust your setup. Or turn your head a little as appropriate. I’m serious. Eyeline at address matters. Not all of us have a thousand bucks to try four or five different ridiculous expensive putters through four or five fittings, and I don’t know how that’s the best solution anyway.

    One wonders how Nicklaus or Jones ever could’ve made a putt without all this. And yet they did.

  2. Joe Wessendarp

    Feb 6, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    TaylorMade might re-think its use of “T-line” unless licensed by trademark owner.

  3. Kyle

    Jan 27, 2018 at 10:10 am

    So it takes DJ until 2018 to get the proper putter, and I’m supposed to think that means I should get fit?
    If it was that simple, shouldn’t DJ have had the right putter years and years ago? If anything, this makes me less confident a single fitting would be successful…

  4. Rybo

    Jan 27, 2018 at 7:29 am

    So DJ aimed 3.1798* to the left with the longer sight lines, seems quite reasonable from a visual perspective. And maybe his stroke path matches the 3* aim left producing a square face at his target line. Edel has been stating these visual issues for years and there have been entire books written on how different visual aspects effect performance.

    Everybody thinks Tour guys dwell over every aspect of their equipment. Nothing could be further from the truth. If something looks good and/or feels good they will put it in play. A chagne to an alignment line is a tweak compared to a change in length, lie, shaft offset, hosel location, weight, etc etc etc.

    @rusty – both stores in Naples have straight 15′ putts, just need to know where they are!

  5. TeeBone

    Jan 24, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    So the #1 player in the world can’t aim a putter unless it has a special “T” on it? I think I’d seek out an optometrist before a fitter.

  6. Kurt

    Jan 24, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    You can statically align the putter at address but the moment you start your backswing you lose all that alignment and depend on your putting stroke to realign the putter at impact.
    Might as well only have a dot over the sweet spot and hope for the best.

  7. Ian

    Jan 24, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Pretty sure the whole world calls it a T line.
    Manufacturers talk golfers like the golfer is a moron.

  8. Jerry

    Jan 14, 2018 at 6:04 am

    Hard to believe DJ was not properly fit for aim previous to this year – shame on his fitter. If he done an Edel fitting, he would have known how the shape, hosel, offset, and slghtlines affect aim – sightlines are subtle changes to your aim.

  9. dlygrisse

    Jan 10, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    I have often believed most of the obnoxious alignment aids you see on putters now days do more harm than good. I have always putted best with a small line or dot.

    • Stephen Finley

      Feb 21, 2018 at 11:26 am

      From a marketing perspective, all they have to do is give the buyer the impression and/or expectation of “better” and “improvement.”

      That goes double for all the complex heads, Jetsons looks, etc. I’m continually amazed at what kinds of features and designs pros seem to think they need to hit the sweet spot on a _putter_, for God’s sake.

  10. Rusty

    Jan 10, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Honestly, two largest PGA superstore, Golf Galaxy (former Golfsmith) in Naples Florida doesn’t have STRAIGHT putting surface from 15 feet. Each putt brakes from 15 feet. It amaze me each store has 500 different putters to sell and they can not make putting area absolute level. Any idea how to fit/test 15 putters? Anyway, you need perfect facilities to do that.

    • Christopher

      Jan 25, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      The problem with stores is they often have raised putting surfaces to test putters on, and they’re not always built for heavy traffic. So they may be flat to start off with but they often wander as they get older (as they’re not on solid surfaces) and see more use. Obviously there are some exceptions, but if you can find a store with a flat training aid to practice three footers that will give you feedback, you should be able to find what suits you best (if you don’t have a local fitter).

  11. Realist

    Jan 9, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    I have a much cheaper alternative.
    1.) Put a line on the ball
    2.) Line the ball up with your aiming spot/point
    3.) Use whatever putter you own and just line the ball line up to putter line

    Putting 101 – No gimmick edition

    • Jerry

      Jan 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

      The line on the ball does not work for a lot of people. In other words, it probably will not work for most. The eyes play tricks on you, and everyone sees things uniquely.

    • Stephen Finley

      Feb 21, 2018 at 11:36 am

      And I have a question or two for the alternative _and_ original solutions:

      1. Since even the swinging of a putter is on not a straight line but an arc, how does a straight line on the putter not interfere with that and even influence a player to take the putter back on an inappropriate straight line that is out of whack with what the human body does and how a putter swings in plane?

      2. For people who put lines on balls, what happens when you’re two degrees off from, say, 15 feet in setting the ball perfectly on line? Do you back off and reset if you notice it? How does it not complicate things (and slow down play) to put yourself in a situation where now you have one more task during a putt, and if you get it wrong, presumably you’re almost guaranteed to miss the putt? And how do you make the straight line on the ball match up with the curving arc of a properly swung putter?

      I’m seriously asking.

  12. Steve

    Jan 9, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    What makes me laugh about this is, where can an amateur golfer find a fitter, who will make them 12 different versions of a specific putter they like just for fitting purposes. The best putter fitting I’ve experienced is for an Edel which I bought just over a year ago, it was awesome but we have since fell out and it’s in the naughty bag. However the next putter I bought was still based on what was found in the Edel fitting and we getting along well at the moment. Also don’t think I’m a poor putter who’s looking for his next fix, according to my stats recorded on garmin gps I averaged 30 putts per round last year, which isn’t bad for a 7 handicap. I think proper fitting for amateurs for any club can be a difficult thing to find (In the UK anyway).

    • KJ

      Jan 9, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      Exactly Steve. It’s not exactly “available” in the US either. In fact, the article states, “…it also explains to us mortals that we should be doing the same test for ourselves before buying a putter.” Huh? Is this author trying to tell me I can go into my local PGA Superstore and receive the same, or even remotely similar, care and treatment that DJ received from his TaylorMade rep? In all likelihood, I couldn’t receive this kind of treatment and consideration from my local pro, who would usually do adequate to good clubfitting. Does putter fitting make sense? Yes. Is it readily available for an amateur handicap golfer? Not really. I only know one pro anywhere near me who could perform putter fitting — Todd Sones — and his approach is more focused on length, lie angle, and type of putterhead recommended relative to a player’s natural path. I doubt even he would have anything that would replicate a “putter lab” with laser-type aiming analysis.

    • Stephen Finley

      Feb 21, 2018 at 11:41 am

      “Naughty bag.” I love it. Gotta remember that. I’m still using two of the same forged-blade putters — an Old Master 8802 replica and a MacGregor George Low copy — I was using as a plus-2 in my 20s and then as a pro (for a while, both teaching and playing), but I’ll confess thinking about a new putter on the odd week and taking the current putter into the shop just to show it that there were other pretty girls too, and it could be replaced. Always seemed to do the trick.

      The rest of your post is so right, too. One wonders how this over-over-triple-overkill approach to fitting could ever apply to even an avid and skilled player who wasn’t endlessly sponsored and funded.

  13. Sam

    Jan 9, 2018 at 10:09 am

    This site is turning into Golf Digest, every other article is about how you need to buy the latest because your gear is too many weeks behind

    • Stephen Finley

      Feb 21, 2018 at 11:42 am

      You can say _that_ again. Nothing like presuming endless funding on the part of players who work for a living.

  14. dbleAGLE

    Jan 9, 2018 at 8:53 am

    When spinter muscles tighten over that 3′ rt to lt breaking putt to win the hole all alignment marks on the putter fade out and it comes down to being mentally strong & making a good stroke without jabbing at it.

  15. Vince Ja

    Jan 9, 2018 at 5:22 am

    C’mon, the putter alignment is a false hood…if you rely on something visual behind the club face youre a fool. VJ

  16. Philip

    Jan 8, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    A golf putting fitting doesn’t need to be a special facility or professional – a golfer just needs to be objective and honest with themselves when they practice on a decent green (not a fake store putting green) so they they can decide on their gaming putter (of course, having a collection of 16 different types of used putters to go through at different lengths helps me out a lot), but I always come back to my favourite 2-3 putters. The thing is – we change over time and one should be double-checking regularly to ensure that they haven’t picked up bad habits or the speed of the greens have changed enough to make their gamer putter start working against them. That all being said – I have been trying for a few seasons to set up a putter fitting with a relatively close Edel facility, but they never respond – I think this year I’ll go over to the course and see if the facility listed on their website is still in operation – my 2018 golf season present to myself :o)

  17. COGolfer

    Jan 8, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Unfortunately, for most of us putter fitters are harder to find than driver/iron fitters. I believe Club Champion does have fittings, but haven’t heard much about the process or results.

  18. steve

    Jan 8, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Here’s the problem and more confusion.
    The sight line parallel to the putting line is only useful at static address, not during the putting stroke while looking at the ball.
    With only a sight line perpendicular to the putting line you must visualize a putting line that is perpendicular to the putter face.
    In either case, the path of your putting stroke overrides all static alignments. DJ’s “T-line” is a personal preference that seems to help him with poor address alignment.
    It’s puzzling because when you are standing at address and trying to align the putter you are gazing sideways for a putting line which is optically problematic. Oh, well ….

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Whats in the Bag

Rory McIlroy’s winning WITB: 2019 Tour Championship

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Driver: TaylorMade M5 (9 degrees set at 7.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70 TX

rory-mcilroy-witb-tour-championship-driver

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80 TX

rory-mcilroy-witb-2019-3-wood

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M5 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 90 TX

rory-mcilroy-witb-tour-championship-5--wood

Irons: TaylorMade P750 (4), TaylorMade P730 (5-PW)
Shafts: Project X Rifle 7.0

rory-mcilroy-witb-tour-championship-8-iron

rory-mcilroy-witb-2019

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X Rifle 6.5

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

rory-mcilroy-witb-tour-championship-putter

Ball: 2019 TaylorMade TP5 (#22)

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

Rory McIlroy WITB Tour Championship

Rory McIlroy WITB Tour Championship

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From the GolfWRX Vault: The story of the sand wedge

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In addition to continuing to look forward to new content that will serve and engage our readership, we also want to showcase standout pieces that remain relevant from years past. In particular, articles with a club building or instruction focus continue to deliver value and convey useful information well after their publish dates.

We want to make sure that once an article falls off the front page as new content is covered it isn’t relegated to the back pages of our website. We hope that you’ll appreciate and find value in this effort.

Cracking open the vault: In this 2015 piece, Mark Donaghy, author of “Caddy Attitudes,” looks at the game-changing history of the sand wedge, reminding us that “compared to the early days of golf, however, bunker play is relatively easy.”

A taste of Donaghy’s excellent piece…

Prior to the 1930s, the best club for short approach shots was the niblick, roughly equivalent to today’s 9-iron or pitching wedge. The design of this club, however, featured a flat, angled face and virtually no sole, making it difficult to use in sand and other soft lies as it was prone to digging into the ground. Players had to pick the ball cleanly off the sand, which required a good lie. The other alternative for bunkers was the jigger; it was similar to a chipper with a short shaft, but little loft. Less loft prevented the club from digging in too much on soft lies, but the compromise was the low launch angle and it was useless at moving through the sand to dig out a buried ball. The club was also not ideal for approach shots from a greenside bunker, as a chip shot made with this club tended to roll for most of its distance. The club designers in those days were often blacksmiths who offered up all sorts of strange solutions to the bunker dilemma.

The rake iron…was invented by a Scottish optometrist who became fed up of having to remove sand from the eyes of golfers playing at the local links, and created a club designed to cast up less sand when swung.

The governing bodies soon began to clamp down on design and banned many offerings. Spoon clubs offered varying degrees of loft and allowed players to scoop their ball out of sand traps and deep rough. Some had bowl faces, others featured deeply grooved faces, but not all of these designs conformed. Walter Hagen was using a lethal-looking sand wedge in the late 1920s, with a hickory shaft and a smooth concave face with a lot of loft and about a half pound of weight in the flange. This was deemed illegal and soon became outlawed.

It is widely acknowledged that the biggest breakthrough in sand play appeared in the 1930s, and many connect Gene Sarazen with the design of today’s modern sand wedge. The story goes that he dreamed this club up after flying with Howard Hughes, the aviation tycoon, movie producer and scratch golfer. When Hughes’s plane took off, the flaps on the wings came down. We don’t know if alcohol or narcotics were consumed at the time, but Sarazen made a connection between the flaps and the flange you could add to a club that would allow it to slide through the sand and help the ball pop up

Check out the full piece here. 

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WRX Spotlight: Swag Golf proto putter

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Product: Swag Golf proto putter

Pitch: From Swag “Swag is the brand that isn’t scared to push the limits in a conservative sport that isn’t evolving to meet changing styles. We like to listen to music on the course, we want to be bold, we love having fun, we love golf, and we’re going to express that both on and off the course. We aren’t going to try to sell you on how great our proprietary materials are and we don’t need to rely on clever marketing to sell more. We’re a no BS company. What matters is that our putters feel good and in turn make you feel good when putting. We have some crazy ideas, we love to tinker, and we experiment on how to perfect everything we do. ”

Our Take on the Swag Golf Proto putter

Though relatively new, Swag Golf has been making a big splash in the industry for their high-end and striking headcovers and accessories. Perhaps less talked about when it comes to the company is their putters – something which I feel is likely to change after testing out their prototype rainbow finish flat-stick.

The putter is beautiful from whatever angle you look at – but especially at address. Extremely smooth lines, and with full-shaft offset, the blade’s shoulders and bumpers are flawlessly balanced to frame the ball and let the putter sit perfectly square. The single line alignment aid enhances the look and is positioned right in the center of the blade’s sweet spot, while the CNC milled flat-stick delivers perfectly smooth edges – noticeably on the neck for a sublime and soft profile.

With a head weight of 354g, the putter from Swag feels exceptional in your hands over the ball. Every detail matters when investing in a premium putter, and the sensation of the stable and firm feel of the flat-stick as well as there being no wavering of the head, makes the putter feel like an extension of your body when standing over a putt.

The sound and feel of the putter is an area where Swag has knocked it out of the park. With a fly milled face from 303 Stainless Steel, the flat-stick delivers an incredibly soft feel at impact.

No vibration is felt on impact, even on long-distance putts. It never feels like your hitting the ball but more caressing it, which is a pleasant sensation when putting from downtown. What you get in terms of sound at impact is a low, deep pitched note from a putter which rolls beautifully on its axis and produces no vibration on slight mis-hits.

To nitpick, the company’s “black mid pistol tackified kangaroo leather grip” took some getting used to. Initially, it took a little away from how impressive the flat-stick feels in your hands, but it gradually becomes more comfortable.

Overall performance-wise though, the putter from Swag provides everything you could hope for from a high-end putter. Exceptional feel at address, painfully attractive profile and precision at impact.

As of now, the company boasts self-confessed “putting nerd” Kevin Streelman as their PGA Tour ambassador. Streelman is currently gaming the brand’s Handsome Too proto, and after experiencing the Swag rainbow proto for myself, the highest compliment I can give is that I would be surprised if he (and PGA Tour newcomer Rhein Gibson) are still the only Tour pros to game one of the brand’s flat-sticks in 12 to 24 months time.

In terms of an Anser-style putter, Swag packs a hefty punch with their numerous offerings. While I personally love the eye-catching rainbow finish (which has been blasted to remove some of the boldness), I realize it’s not for everyone. However, the company has plenty more traditional finishes on their array of flat-sticks, which you can find on their website here.

Whatever finish you prefer your putters to come in though, it’s unlikely that any department of Swag’s flat-sticks will leave you disappointed.

 

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