Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

A deep dive into “toe hang” of a putter, and why it matters

Published

on

Let’s start with the basics just to be sure everyone is on the same page. When people talk about toe hang (at least in the traditional sense), what exactly are they talking about?

Grab your putter and lay it on a flat surface with the putter head hanging freely off the edge. Now, look at where the toe of your putter is pointing and imagine a clock face is centered on the axis of the shaft. The closer the toe of your putter is to pointing at 6:00, the more toe hang it has. The closer the toe of your putter is to pointing at 9:00 (for a right-handed golfer), the less toe hang it has. If the toe of the putter is pointing directly at 9:00 (where the face is pointing straight up), that is referred to as “face balanced.” If the toe of the putter is pointing at 7:30, that is generally referred to as “1/4 toe hang.” If the toe of the putter is pointing directly at 6:00, that is commonly referred to as “full toe hang.” Generally speaking, the majority of putters will fall on a spectrum somewhere between face balanced and full toe hang.

Of course, there are exceptions to that, but the point of this article will be to address more traditional designs.

What determines Toe Hang?

In technical terms, toe hang is determined by the relationship between the axis of the shaft and the center of gravity of the putter. If the two are perfectly aligned, the result is a face balanced putter. However, as the axis of the putter shaft gets closer to the golfer in relation to the putter’s center of gravity when addressing the golf ball, more toe hang will be the result. What that means from a feel perspective is that more toe hang will place the weight of the putter farther away from your hands as you swing the putter. That displacement will effectively place a moment arm on the putter shaft as you swing it, encouraging the face to open as you go back and then close as you move through the ball. Conversely, a face balanced putter will not want to torque at all naturally during the course of swinging the putter, as the two points are aligned with each other.

Something else to keep in mind is that there are two components to a torque or a moment. One is the distance between the two points (also referred to as the moment arm), which is essentially what we’ve been talking about up to now. The second component is the amount of force acting at that distance. As the weight of your putter increases, so will the effect of more or less toe hang. In practice, an original Ping Anser from 40 years ago won’t engage the hands in the same way during the stroke that a Ping Anser from today will due to today’s putter being 25-30 grams heavier. That may not sound like much until you point out that it’s a 10 percent increase.

Face-balanced putter’s relationship between axis of shaft (red line) and putter CG

Ping Anser’s relationship between axis of shaft (red line) and putter CG

8802’s relationship between axis of shaft (red line) and putter CG

What does Toe Hang actually do?

In the interest of full disclosure, I would have to submit that there is a myriad of characteristics that make a certain putter perfect for a particular golfer. This article is a deep dive into just one of those topics. We have to assume the putter’s length, lie angle, loft, offset, static weight, swing weight, grip size, grip shape, etc. are already suited to the golfer. We also have to assume the putter fits the golfer’s eye, feels right, and inspires confidence. Assuming those have all been configured correctly, let’s address what toe hang can do for a golfer.

Let’s go back to our previous discussion about more toe hang encouraging more torqueing of the putter face. Ultimately, you need to ask yourself what you want to feel when swinging the putter, as toe hang will contribute a lot to how the golfer feels where the face of the putter is. A golfer who prefers a lot of toe hang will complain that he or she has no idea where the face is when swinging a face balanced putter. On the contrary, a golfer who prefers a face balanced putter will feel like he or she has to fight with the putter in order to square the face of a heel-shafted blade.

As a general rule, more toe hang will either encourage or better suit a stronger arc in the putting stroke. One of the more classic examples of this arrangement would be Ben Crenshaw’s fluid, swinging-a-door putting stroke matched to the iconic heel-shafted blade putter he so famously wielded over the years.

Putters in the vicinity of ¼ toe hang (probably most of which would be somehow related to the trusty Ping Anser) generally encourage or better suit a slight arc in the putting stroke. Examples of this setup are nearly endless, but arguably one of the more successful would be Brad Faxon, who holds the record for lowest putts per GIR in a PGA Tour season at 1.704.

Face-balanced putters (as you might have guessed) generally encourage or will better suit a straight-back, straight-through putting stroke. These types of putters will most often appear in the form of a mallet with a double bend shaft. This recipe is one that has been widely attributed to legendary instructor Dave Pelz and his teaching methodology.

What does all of this ultimately mean?

When you go shopping for a new flat stick, try out different amounts of toe hang and get a feel for how they engage your hands as you swing the putter. Ultimately, that’s what you’re paying attention to. Different amounts of toe hang will allow you to have a different feel for where the face of the putter is, which will have different effects on how you release the putter. This will affect both the location you strike the ball on the face as well as your face angle control, so having a poor match could adversely affect both your distance and directional control.

Different putting stroke paths and their general relationship with toe hang

There is no “one size fits all” answer for what works, but as I alluded to above, there are some general guidelines for where you can start. As a rule, the more arc you have in your stroke, the more toe hang you will likely prefer. With that being said, there are exceptions to every rule. While it’s generally true that an 8802 is a good match with a strong arc stroke (for example), there are also cases where a golfer’s natural strong arcing stroke might benefit from something with less toe hang. Placing the center of gravity of the putter closer to the axis of the shaft could possibly quiet the golfer’s hands during the putting stroke. This, of course, depends on whether your personal putting stroke needs correcting or simply complimenting.

Also, your typical miss patterns could indicate a mismatch between you and the toe hang in your putter. If you miss a lot of putts to the right (for a right-handed golfer), a putter with less toe hang might help you correct that. Obviously, the reverse of that might also help you if you miss to the left often.

In short, while there are some general guidelines to follow that serve as good starting points, there is no cookie-cutter answer for finding the right putter from you apart from a fitting with an experienced professional. And when you find the right recipe for YOU, stick with it. No two golfers are the same and no two putters are the same.

Your Reaction?
  • 527
  • LEGIT42
  • WOW10
  • LOL6
  • IDHT4
  • FLOP10
  • OB3
  • SHANK33

Peter Schmitt does not profess to be a PGA professional or to be certified at...well...anything much in golf. Just another lifelong golfer with a passion for the game trying to get better every day, the definition of which changes relatively frequently. Peter is a former Marine and a full-time mechanical engineer (outside of the golf industry). He lives in Lexington, KY with his wife and two young kids.

53 Comments

53 Comments

  1. Tee-Bone

    Sep 5, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    I’m no scientist, but its pretty obvious that as the shaft is swung back, the cg, if not in-line with the path of that shaft, will want to stay behind. Meaning, a heel-shafted putter wants to CLOSE going back, not OPEN. Its a nice story to sell putters, though.

  2. joro

    Sep 1, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    And yet they still stick by that old thinking. The fact is the Putt is going to go where the face is facing regardless of your stroke, so does it really matter if you are a swinging gate or back and through ? Watch on TV when they show from behind and you see by the set up where the face is pointing and the ball will go there regardless of the stroke, aim left, the ball goes left.

  3. Rich

    Aug 14, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    I’m a straight back and thru stroke guy and use a mallet and at times a 8802 and haven’t changed my stroke ,but the 8802 has a super stroke grip and that helps..

    • Geohogan

      Aug 22, 2018 at 8:37 pm

      Super stroke grip, increases counter weighting ie lowers swing weight
      and thereby less sensitive to the head, which makes it easier, more natural to control the stroke.

      • Geohogan

        Aug 22, 2018 at 8:40 pm

        Guessing your 8802 with super stroke grip is B10-C4 swing weight.

  4. Chuck

    Aug 10, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    In the lead photo, what is the putter that is second from the right?

  5. Rusty Trombone

    Aug 3, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    I went from a face balanced Musty Putter, to the Ping sigma G Tyrone, to the Scotty Cameron 5.5m, then to my dad’s old Taylormade (lots of toe hang) and started putting lights out with it. Just received the Taylormade TP Soto today, and although it doesn’t have the same plastic pure roll insert as my dad’s, (it’s got a metal “milled insert”) it has similar toe hang, and look forward to testing it out. Definitely want to try the SAM thing another poster mentioned.

  6. stuart burley

    Jul 28, 2018 at 10:15 am

    The explanation of the COG in relation to the shaft is very good. Fact is though that the opening and closing and clubface torque have been proven to be the opposite. Good golfers aim slightly left and hold the clubface off through impact (negative gamma torque). Poor putters aim slightly right and over rotate during impact (positive gamma rotation). This is easier to do with a face balanced putter due to the removal of clubface torque.

    • shawn

      Jul 29, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      No, you are wrong about the COG. What Peter has shown is incomplete because you must also consider the COG of the putter head itself which may be well behind the “sweet spot” shown on the putter face. You must determine where the red line axis intersects the putter head to fully understand putter mechanics. And if you are applying torque to the putter you are incompetent.

    • Geohogan

      Jul 29, 2018 at 11:24 pm

      Whether a pro or am, impact between the putter face and the ball is
      one, one thousandths of a second. There is no gamma rotation in one, one thousandths of a second, positive or negative.

      Stop perpetuating mythology.

  7. RBImGuy

    Jul 27, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I am a great putter and putt well with any sort of putter.
    its the Indian not the bow

  8. Harv

    Jul 26, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    I got toe hang… but I just use a nail clipper…

  9. HDTVMAN

    Jul 25, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    Another very important part of the putting decision is the grip. Thin, thick, flat, round, hard, soft…there are no right or wrongs, whatever you like.

  10. Socrates

    Jul 25, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Seems like a regurgitation of mythology with no real data to substantiate the claims. Plenty of players on Tour (I’ll use Tour players since they are the best putters out there) who use face balanced putters and have an arcing stroke. And plenty that use a toe hang putter that are SBST. Reminds me of how people thought they knew how to make the ball curve until the “new” ball flight rules told us what really happens.

    • Caroline

      Jul 25, 2018 at 11:27 pm

      Nothing, absolutely nothing is more important in golf, pitches, chips, putting..then hand eye coordination…pros have so much of it that trying to do what they do is impossible unless you have that coordination yourself. For us amateurs golf is an adventure every time we step on the first tee. Amateurs that improve and get better only do so because they stick with what ever they found that gets them into the hole. Sadly most amateurs are at the mercy of what ever the next swing,putt, chip article some “golf” instructor has published this month. If you find a way that gets it into the hole that is your secret.

  11. Cris Kennedy

    Jul 25, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    The only putter you want is the one you paid SO MUCH MONEY FOR that you can never ever change to something else because, after all, you spent WAY MORE MONEY than you can ever justify, or even recover from financially. This way…you can never change putters. It FORCES you to learn how to use that putter; i.e., you’ll finally learn how to putt and not keep thinking, “….maybe my problem I need the latest and greatest (different) putter that___________uses on tour……!!

    • Cameron Diego

      Jul 26, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Chris, you are so right. I’ve been making payments on my Scotty Cameron putter for the last fifteen years. It is almost paid off (only have five more years to go) and in the last two years, I have only three-putted once.

  12. Terry Porvin

    Jul 25, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    There may be an error in the 2nd to last paragraph of the article. From my understanding, if a right handed golfer is missing putts right, he/she may need more to hang to square up the face & vise versa.

    • Scott S

      Jul 27, 2018 at 7:59 am

      Terry- When I read that I thought the same thing. More toe hang would create a greater amount of putter face closing during the stroke would it not? The only thing I could think of was perhaps with less toe hang the putter would not open up as much to begin with and effectively reduce overall opening/closing of the face. I would love to hear a greater explanation of this or a correction of what was written.

  13. JR

    Jul 25, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    I find reading the putt correctly helps me make more putts.

  14. Joe Perez

    Jul 25, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Wonderful article, but I still can’t figure out why sometimes I prefer a face-balanced mallet and other times, one with a lot of toe-hang. ????

    • Geohogan

      Jul 28, 2018 at 12:53 am

      “Change is as good as a rest?”

      When we change it up, it stimulates our brain.
      Its not toe hang or not toe hang, its the variety that increases focus and we do better .. until we need another fix.

      Neurologists say, to change the route home from work every day. It stimulates neurons. Change in our golf prevents atrophy.

  15. CJ

    Jul 25, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    While there are always typical negative responses, most poor putters can’t read greens. Using arc style trainer and putting rh only for rh players helped me tremendously. Thanks for the article OP.

  16. BL

    Jul 25, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Toe hang can be very misleading. See: Bullseyes.

  17. dtrain

    Jul 25, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    So what does this article prove that I haven’t seen 1000 times before? How exactly is this a “deep dive” More like sticking your toe in the kiddie pool. How about some serious testing, with actual golfers?

  18. Peter Schmitt

    Jul 25, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Thanks for the discussion, folks. There’s a lot to unpack here and frankly there wasn’t enough room to talk about concepts such as toe up, face balanced at impact, and the like. This is intended to serve as a 101-level discussion to cover the “traditional” spectrum of one aspect of putter design. This should aid in having an informed discussion with a fitter, which IMO is the proper conclusion of the article. Go get a proper fitting with a qualified individual.

    • Don

      Jul 25, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      You also failed to mention how the actual “connection point” of the shaft to the putter head affects things. For example, your first picture (the one showing the face-balanced putter with the axis of the shaft pointing directly at the impact sweet spot) would actually create torque (twist) at the moment of impact because even though the axis of the shaft is pointed at the sweet spot, the shaft “connects” toward the heel. Now, contrast this to a center-shafted putter that has the exact same axis of the shaft but that connects to the putter head with no goose-neck. It would not twist when impacting the ball because it connects at the point where the sweet spot actually is. From a “physics” standpoint, a center-shafted putter would seem to be more ideal even though the axis of the shaft would be exactly the same as one with a goose-neck.

      • engineer bob

        Jul 26, 2018 at 4:20 pm

        Why is my scientifically valid comment being held for moderation?

        • Harv

          Jul 26, 2018 at 7:38 pm

          …. because if you’re too smart they will delete your comments because the don’t want the gearheads to blow up their heads…

  19. Jimmie

    Jul 25, 2018 at 9:16 am

    How about putters that are perfectly 360 degree balanced, which means either no toe hang or any toe hang you desire. It is ideal as there is no bias and perfect feel. I got one from ebay P&si-Egos putter.

    • PT

      Aug 1, 2018 at 9:00 pm

      Yeah but you notice on their website that they have no video examples of anybody actually making any putts with the putter? Nobody! But they have videos of everybody else missing.

  20. QB

    Jul 25, 2018 at 9:02 am

    You neglected to mention toe up putters, which point to 12 noon! 12 o’clock toe hang allows the face to remain square throughout the stroke, they’re nearly impossible to pull or push. Been bagging one for a couple years now and changed my game. Love my Edel brick but I believe odyssey came out with a line of toe up recently as well.

    • Jimmie

      Jul 25, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      I think Odyssey introduced a toe-down putter… just like Axis 1.

  21. Antonio

    Jul 25, 2018 at 3:16 am

    Great article, thanks!
    However I do not agree on the conclussion. By own experience If you tend to miss right a more toe Hung putter will help you close the face at impact and bring it more square, provided of course that you have and arc putter swing as you mentioned.

  22. Jim McPherson

    Jul 25, 2018 at 1:48 am

    So what is the consensus on putter fittings? Worth it?

    Or is it all about rolling what appeals to the eye and then putting in the practice?

    • HDTVMAN

      Jul 25, 2018 at 10:47 pm

      I stress to my customers, before buying a putter, have a PGA Professional go thru the SAM, Science In Motion, program. It’s 90 minutes and $50 at our shop, and well worth it. It’s used at the Callaway Performance Center and TM’s Kingdom, and will show you your arc & strike angle, helping you to pick out the correct putter. We allow customers to compare their current putter to whatever putter on the floor that they are considering purchasing. Best $50 you will spend.

  23. engineer bob

    Jul 24, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    … putter shaft axis… putter center of gravity… torque… moment… moment arm.… OK, stop here!!!
    The table top test for toe hang is good, but let’s complicate it with some simple science.
    Hold the top of your putter grip between the finger and thumb and twirl the hanging putter. If the shaft and spin axis coincide, the putter is face balanced. If the shaft rotates outside of the spin axis and wobbles, it’s not face balanced. (p.s. the vertical spin axis is called the longitudinal gravitational axis 😮 ).

  24. David

    Jul 24, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Check out the videos from the guys at Directed Force putters if you want to see what a crock “face-balanced” putters are. They absolutely, positively do not stay “square the the line” in any way, shape or form.

    No I don’t work for Directed Force.

    Yes, I bought one.

    No, I no longer use it.

    But, hey, let’s at least TRY to get the science right….

    • gif

      Jul 24, 2018 at 9:59 pm

      Are you a “feeel” putter?

    • Geohogan

      Jul 24, 2018 at 10:40 pm

      What if a putter did stay square to the line?

      Putter ball contact is 1/1000 second for 1/4 inch.
      That is all she wrote.

      …so whether putter face stays square after impact is meaningless.
      It is just more marketing BS, like oversize grips.
      Check out the putters used by two of the greatest putters who ever lived, Bobby Jones and Bobby Locke.
      Check out their putters.

      • gif

        Jul 25, 2018 at 12:12 am

        But you don’t realize that a putter represents a golfer’s fhallic symbol… his masculinity on the greens as he bravely putt-putts the ball into the hole… ploop 😮

  25. acew/7iron

    Jul 24, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Funny you mention big grips…I kept inching towards adding larger and larger ones until one day I realized I could not control distance or direction at all. Got a small grip and back to lagging them close or making them from time to time.

    • Geohogan

      Jul 24, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      ace, you werent adding larger and larger grips, but rather adding more and more weight to the butt end of the club. Some oversize grips will be 75 grams heavier than std(50 grams). Thats serious reduction in swing weight, maybe from D2 to C0? Serious reduction in clubhead feel.

      IMO, adjustable counter weights is the way to go with putters. Its been proven that performance improves (up to 30 days) when we make changes; and if you believe a change will make a difference for the better (placebo effect), there is 60% chance you will improve.

      • gif

        Jul 25, 2018 at 12:17 am

        75 grams minus 50 grams = 25 grams… almost 1 ounce… insignificant…. and putter swingweight is irrelevant to a tiny putting movement. You can adjust to any putter size, shape, weight if you practice enough like the pros do.

        • Geohogan

          Jul 26, 2018 at 7:50 am

          Some oversize grips will be 75 grams heavier than std(50 grams

          75+50=125 grams

  26. Geohogan

    Jul 24, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Messing around with an old Powerbilt, Model 57 blade putter not unlike Bobby Jones, Calamity Jane. 33.5 inches long, B 4 swing weight. Calamity Jane was B8, if reference I found is correct.

    So although complete toe hanger(6 oclock), the counter balance puts so much weight in the hands, rather than the putter head,
    that the face is very controllable.

    Makes me think that counter balancing may be the reason for the fad to go to oversize grips. It must reduce Swing weight by at least 10 SW points , to add 50+ grams to the handle, with no compensation to the head.

    I’ll bet if golfers maintained swing weight when they put oversize grips on their clubs the fad would go away. ie. its counter balancing resulting in significantly lower SW, that gives more clubhead control, not fatter grips.

    • gif

      Jul 25, 2018 at 12:20 am

      Those old 1-iron shaped vintage putters were used in the days of the “stymie”… where you had to loft your ball over your opponents ball to get to the hole… without contacting his ball…!!!

      • Geohogan

        Jul 26, 2018 at 8:38 am

        Many golfers today use putters with 6-10 degrees of loft and dont do it because of stymies. For one thing it allows forward lean or hands ahead and still maintain loft to get the ball rolling.

        How much loft is remaining if putter has 2 degrees of loft and hands are ahead at impact?

      • Geohogan

        Jul 26, 2018 at 2:13 pm

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TCObKqRwtQ
        1:20
        Ben hogan , stymied, using an L Wedge?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

Women’s college golfers (and juniors) are getting significantly better, here are the stats

Published

on

Here’s the deal: If you are talking about women’s golf these days, especially at the elite level, you are talking about superstars! These girls are crazy good, and I wanted to take an opportunity to highlight some of the data to help better inform everyone.

Let’s start with a couple key highlights from the first couple of weeks of the 2018-19 season

  • Sierra Brooks fires 65-62 (-17) at College of Charleston
  • Patty Tavatanakit from UCLA shoots 63, including 7 straight birdies
  • Alabama shoots NCAA record -45 at Belmar Golf Club
  • Atthaya Thitikul from Thailand shoots 60 in the final round of the World Junior Golf Championship to finish at 268 (-20)
  • Lucy Li shot 62 in the first round of the U.S. Junior Girls at Poppy Hills
  • Newly D1, California Baptist shoots -6 in the final round at University of South Alabama to finish -4 for the tournament

In 2018, Missouri women’s golf was likely the last team into the regional championship. To earn this right the team needed to average 295; scoring a decade earlier which would have likely made them a contender for being among the elite 10-15 teams in D1 golf! The fact is, in a little over a decade, the game has changed not a little, but a lot. Players from the past would have no chance to compete with today’s teams.

Why? Girls are simply stronger, better coached and more focused on golf. According to Joey Wuertemburger, a teaching professional with 100-plus college players

“The bar is getting raised every day, I’m seeing the next generation of women getting more athletic, which helps with the speed component but also with the ability to make changes quicker in their individual coaching programs.”

One example of the power of women’s golf is Emily Tubert. Emily, a former USGA champion, college golf standout at Arkansas and LPGA player recently hit it 322 yards in a nationally televised event. Emily is not even a complete outlier, look at club head speed data with driver collected by Trackman from the 2018-19 rosters at University of Arkansas

  • Player A: 108 mph
  • Player B: 106 mph
  • Player C: 101 mph
  • Player D: 97 mph
  • Player E: 96 mph
  • Player F: 93 mph
  • Player G: 90 mph

Arkansas is not an outlier either. Troy women’s coach Randy Keck notes two players on his team with club head speeds of 103-ish with the driver and a team average in the upper 90s. This means that players are hitting the ball on average at least 225 in the air. When playing courses of 6,200 yards, this gives them lots of opportunities to have short irons and attack short par 5s.

At the end of last year, according to GolfStat, four women’s teams (Alabama, UCLA, Arkansas, and Duke) had adjusted scoring averages under par, with the University of Alabama leading with 70.93. According to Mic Potter, head women’s coach at the University of Alabama, “Through eleven tournaments in 2017-18, our team was 111 under par. Thirty years ago, if a school averaged 300, or roughly 12 over per round, they were winning tournaments. In 2018 they are more likely to finish last. Student-Athletes are entering college more physically fit, with better technique, and more prepared to play at the highest level. This is reflected in their ability to score.”

The transformation of women’s golf can be seen throughout D1, as well as into other levels. One amazing example is the University of Indianapolis, the 2018 D2 women’s national champions and likely among the best D2 teams ever. According to Golfstat, for the 2017-18 season the adjusted score for the team was 73.45 which helped them win 11 times. Likewise, the women at Savannah College of Art had an amazing year in NAIA women’s golf with an adjusted scoring differential of 75.32.

At the junior level, players are equally impressive. Data collected suggests that the average girl going to play major conference golf has a scoring differential of about minus three for the past three years. This means that they shoot about three shots better than the course rating. That’s impressive until you consider that the best player in ranked in junior golf in the U.S., Lucy Li, has a scoring differential of minus 8.53. That’s almost two shots better than the player ranked second — darn impressive!

Women’s golf is on an excellent trajectory, which includes so much more depth, competition, and superior athletes who are driven to make their mark on the sport. Over the next five to seven years, it will be interesting to see these players develop in their quest to become the best players in the world — I cannot wait to see what happens!

Your Reaction?
  • 48
  • LEGIT6
  • WOW3
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP2
  • OB2
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

Equipment

TG2: Equipment leaks and launches for 2019 (TaylorMade, Callaway, Mizuno and more)

Published

on

It was the week of equipment leaks and launches on GolfWRX.com. Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss the new TaylorMade P-760 irons, Callaway “Epic Flash,” Mizuno ST190 drivers, more photos from the 2017 Nike VPR line, Evnroll putters and more.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK16

Continue Reading

Podcasts

Full Transcript: The 19th Hole podcast interview with Barbara Nicklaus

Published

on

Check out Michael Williams’ full conversation with Barbara Nicklaus, Jack’s wife, on our 19th Hole podcast below. Listen to the full episode here!

Editor’s Note: We’ve been listening to your feedback about wanting transcripts for the podcasts. Obviously, we can’t transcribe every single podcast, but we’ll try to provide these as often as possible. Thanks for listening!

Michael Williams: I’ve been telling everybody since I’ve met you. If Jack is The Golden Bear, I’ve been calling you the Teddy Bear because you’re just the nicest person, so easy to get to know, and you just remind me of my own Mom.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, what a nice compliment. Thank you.

Michael Williams: You’re welcome. We know so much about Jack, his life is documented in so many ways and in so many places. Looking up and researching this chat, I couldn’t even find a biography for you online. There’s no Wikipedia page. There’s no nothing. You’re so humble. You’re so under the radar.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, I think that’s a good thing.

Michael Williams: And a very rare thing these days, by the way. I wanted to give people and myself a little background on the person that you are. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, Jack and I both grew up in Columbus, Ohio. We were from different sections of town, so I didn’t meet him until the first week of our freshman year in college. My dad was a high school math teacher, and we just had a very nice … I don’t know what you call it. I’ve had a great life.

Michael Williams: When you were growing up, were you from a golf family? Did you know a lot about golf? Were you prepared to be the wife of a golf professional?

Barbara Nicklaus: No, actually when I met Jack, I really didn’t even know golf existed. Golf wasn’t a real popular sport back then, particularly in high school. So, I didn’t really know anything about it when I met him, and we dated. We met, like I said the first weekend of our freshman year in college, and we dated until about New Year’s Eve when you kind of run out of Mickey Mouse things to talk about. He sort of went back dating the girl he had been dating. I actually started dating the fella that she was dating. Then about February, my birthday, all of a sudden I started getting these cards in the mail. I got a birthday card from his sister, and one from his mom and dad, and one from Jack. So, he called me that day and then we’d been together ever since. We were married between our junior and senior year. I sort of decided maybe I should learn a little bit about golf, so I took it Winter quarter at Ohio State. We hit balls just in tin building and then they let us play five holes at the end of the quarter. It was really hilarious because I think I made three bogeys and two pars. I said to Jack, “I really don’t understand why you practice so much.” Of course, I haven’t broken 65 for nine holes since. That was my meeting with golf.

Michael Williams: It sounds like you’d taken the thing seriously, you could have been better than him.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, I think that was just a little miracle that never, ever, ever happened again.

Michael Williams: That is a great story. You married Jack, I believe, in 1960 and he went pro in 1961. He’d already had a great amateur career, but did you both know right away that you were headed for one of the all-time great careers? Could you feel it even at the beginning?

Barbara Nicklaus: Absolutely not. Like I said, we grew up in Columbus, Ohio. We planned on living in Columbus, Ohio. We were married between our junior and senior year of college. He was trying to sell insurance, and play golf, and go to school. He really expected to remain amateur. So, Jackie was born in September of 1961, and Jack turned pro in November. We’d been married for a year and half before Jack turned pro. Of course Bob Jones, was one of his heroes. Mr. Jones couldn’t have been nicer to him at a lot of amateur tournaments. It was a big decision, but when he wanted to be the best and he said, “If want to be the best, I have to play against the best.” In 1962, which was his first year on tour, his first tournament was the L.A. Open in January and he split last place with two other golfers at $100. He got a check for $33.33, so, big beginning.

Michael Williams: And you cashed it and spent every penny, didn’t you?

Barbara Nicklaus: I wish I had the check. I never even thought about it at the time, but it’d be pretty funny to have now.

Michael Williams: Yes it would. That check itself would be worth a lot more than $33.33.

Barbara Nicklaus: He didn’t even get to 34 cents. He only got 33.

Michael Williams: Yeah, I know, that other guy owes you a penny, okay. I’ll help you hunt that guy down. I know some folks. Famously, Tiger Woods as he started his pro career was aiming for Jack, in terms of his target for excellence. Was Bobby Jones the guy that Jack was aiming for?

Barbara Nicklaus: You know what, golf wasn’t really talked about in that sense as it is today. I think the first time Jack even thought about breaking Bob Jones’ career record, was when he was at … I’m not sure it was the Open or the PGA in Cleveland and someone said, “Well, if you win today, you break Bobby Jones’ record.” I think that’s the first that was even brought to attention. The majors just as the years have gone on, have gotten bigger in the public’s eyes. [Editor’s Note: Nicklaus won his 1973 PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf club outside Cleveland, his his third PGA and 14th major championship].

Michael Williams: So, at that point he really wasn’t aimed at any records or numbers or anything like that. It was more about achievement, in terms of his own personal goals.

Barbara Nicklaus: It was. It really was. It was, like I said, “If you wanna be the best, you play against the best.” Victories were what he was all about. He always says, “Golf is a game” And he loved it. I always say, “Very few men are really happy in their profession.” And I said, “How unbelievably lucky could Jack be to be happy in two. Playing golf and golf course design.” We both feel very blessed.

Michael Williams: The tour obviously was very different in those days from going on the road to the tournaments themselves. Everything was different. What are some of the biggest differences for you when you look at how the tour now is versus how it was when you were doing it?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, I love the way we started out, but I can’t say that the way the gals and guys are now isn’t better. We basically drove, drove from tournament to tournament. We had Jackie, so that was when you could put a port-a-crib … It would sit in the backseat of the car and we just dumped him back there and traveled. Michael, we’re so old, we didn’t have the disposable diapers back then, so you can imagine how are motel rooms smelled. It was a different atmosphere. If someone else’s husband happened to be playing better, than say Jack, I would keep her kids for the day or vice versa. It was a much smaller tour and more family, but what the wives have now is wonderful. They have a school for the kids, and so they’re all together. The tour’s grown unbelievably, but I still cherish some of those old-fashioned days.

Michael Williams: Were you particularly close to any of the players and their families?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, it really just depended. Winnie Palmer, Vivienne Player and I have been dear, dear friends for a hundred years [laughs]. We hated it when we lost Winnie. Vivienne and I are still really good friends. There’s a lot of them out there that I still see a lot. We just kind of started in the early 60s and the six of us traveled together a lot.

Michael Williams: I just wondered if it was a barrier to friendship, the fact that Jack was at another level than these other guys.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, you know what, I don’t think he was thought of it back then. He was really just starting out, and obviously Arnold was winning a lot, and Gary. Later on, Tom Watson came along and just a lot of the other guys, so it went in steps and everything fit together.

Michael Williams: Yeah. There’s sort of a smooth transition if you will between those generations and groups of players. You mentioned raising kids, the difference now between raising kids. You have, let’s see, one, two, three, four, five, I believe?

Barbara Nicklaus: Yeah, we do.

Michael Williams: Well, five majors of your own. One of them named Michael, quite wisely.

Barbara Nicklaus: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Michael Williams: Appreciate that! Raising the kids must have been just wild, yeah?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, you know what, Michael? When you say that, I have the attitude, “You know what, you do what you have to do.” Of course, everybody who knows me, knows this story, but I’ll quickly tell you. When I was at the Masters in 1962 and Jackie had been born the September before, so I’m on the back patio with some other wives. I’m bemoaning the fact that I missed my baby and this and that and the other thing. There’s sort of an older woman sitting over on the patio knitting. All of a sudden, she put her knitting down. She put her finger in my face and she said, “Listen little girl, you had Jack long before you had that baby and you hope to have Jack long after that baby’s gone. Now you grow up and be a wife.” I was kind of taken aback. It actually was Elita Mangrum. She was Lloyd Mangrum’s wife. I was kind of taken aback and then I didn’t see her for about 10 years. I saw her and I said, “Elita, you will never know what you did for my marriage.” I said, Jack would call me and I might have three in diapers and he’d say, “I’m lonely.” I said, “Elita, I was on the next plane to that tournament.” So, it was sweet because I can still see her finger in my face as a 22 year old wife.

Michael Williams: What a life changing moment, such a great story.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, it was and I’ve shared that with a lot of the younger wives. Just because you become a mother, you don’t stop being a wife. That was one of my biggest lessons.

Michael Williams: In your life, you’ve obviously had some great blessings and you’ve had some amazing experiences. You’ve led a singular life with a lot of success, but like all of us, life is not all success. You experienced your share of tragedy. The loss of your grandson Jake was a tragedy that’s unimaginable. But that same year you founded the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation. That’s when your career in philanthropy really took full flight. If you would, just talk a little bit about the start of the foundation.

Barbara Nicklaus: Of course, the loss of Jake was unbelievable. It’s a double whammy because you feel so bad for your children and then you’ve lost this precious baby. But our thinking that we wanted to help children really started when our daughter was 11 months old. We had a scary experience with her and thought we might lose her. So we sat in the hospital looking at each other and saying, “You know what, if we’re ever in a position to help anyone we want it to be children.” We just feel blessed that we’ve been able to do that. We did start our Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation in 2004, I think it was. We lost Jake in 2005 and we were just helping smaller places. Well, when Jake died, we just jumped to a bigger level. That horrible statement, “Some good comes out of all bad.” Is true; Jake was such a precious child, and so we feel like we’re keeping his memory alive with a lot of the charity work that we’re doing in Jake’s name.

Michael Williams: I was amazed to hear the story about the Foundation. I knew something about it, but having attended the events during the summer, I saw the videos and met some of the people there. I tell you, honestly, and it’s not even just a turn of phrase. There literally was not a dry eye in the house when you talked about some of the ways that you’ve helped people. I love the fact that you take on causes that nobody else takes up. These unknown diseases and you’re applying charity and philanthropy and research where no one else is. No one else is helping, and you dive in and do those things. It must be a wonderful feeling.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, that’s a nice compliment, Michael. We started our foundation and we wanted it to be local. We wanted to grow it, so that we can be a global foundation. When we partnered with the people at Creighton Farms, we feel like we’re branching out from just our home area. Of course the last two years, it’s been benefiting PKU, which to tell you the truth, I had never heard of. [Editor Note: Phenylketonuria, also called PKU, is a rare inherited disorder that causes an amino acid called phenylalanine to build up in the body. For the rest of their lives, people with PKU need to follow a diet that limits phenylalanine, which is found mostly in foods that contain protein].

It’s such a rare thing to happen, and such a distress for a family. That’s been wonderful to help that charity. We’ve helped Children’s National in Washington, D.C. and of course the beneficiary for the Memorial tournament in Columbus, Ohio is a nationwide Children’s Hospital. We just feel blessed that we’ve been able to help children.

Jack has been unbelievably great. He’s actually supported me all these years, and now that he’s not playing so much golf, we’ve really gotten him involved. I think he’s totally enjoying being a part of this charity and kind of just hearing what’s been after him. In fact, I tease him that I’d had to raise his salary twice this year. He laughs. He says, “Yeah, from zero to double zero.” But he’s a pretty good employee.

Michael Williams: That is awesome. When I talked to him again during the summer, I asked him whether he enjoyed the 18 majors and all the wins more or if he enjoyed the philanthropy more. He said he really enjoyed the philanthropy more and it was because he was a partner of, albeit a junior partner, to you. That’s what he said.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, oh, well I haven’t heard that, so I won’t tell him I heard that.

Michael Williams: Hopefully he’s listening to the show every week, but I’m just throwing that out there. Just before we wrap it up, I want to go a little bit more about your, back up to a little bit more about your role as a mentor on the PGA tour. Talk about the players themselves because you get to know some of these guys, these young men. Of course, they make more money, have different lives, but other than that, are they really different than the young men that were around when Jack was touring and during his career?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, you know it’s funny, Michael, ’cause you look at all the generations and this generation, all I can tell you is, gets it. I think they have the greatest group of young players. Rickie Fowler, and Rory McIlroy, and Daniel Berger, and Jordan Speith, I mean just so many of these young guys. They get it. They’re giving back at early ages. It’s really fun to see. When some of the young girls will ask me some questions, I’m so complimented because I’m really probably not even close to being their mother now. I’m closer to being their grandmother. The girls are adorable. They’re special and they’re very supportive. It’s just fun to see.

Michael Williams: Did you ever give someone the Mrs. Mangrum speech?

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I think an awful lot of the young girls, that’s one of the first things I always say. Because it’s been several years ago, but you know I have heard some say, “Well, I’m not gonna do that anymore. I have a baby to take care of.” Then all of a sudden, I see Elita Mangrum’s finger in my face again and I have shared with a lot of the girls. In a nut shell, it’s very true.

Michael Williams: So I’m gonna give you a fantasy scenario here. Let’s say you’re queen of the tour, empress of the PGA tour-

Barbara Nicklaus: Uh-oh. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Michael Williams: … It’s been handed down. The decree has already been written. Would you change anything? What would you change? What would you step in and say, let’s do this a little differently?

Barbara Nicklaus: I’d like to say … You know, I don’t think I’d change anything. Jack and I were 20 years old when we got married and took all four of our parents with us to get our marriage license. I feel like we’ve grown up together. I feel like we’ve been a team and a pretty good team. People say, “Well, what about being a golf widow?” I said, “You know what? Jack has always made me feel like I’m a part of his life.” If it’s a phone call or a wink or what.

Barbara Nicklaus: I said I’ll tell you a story. It was at Oak Hill at the US Open and after the round, there’s like 40,000 people on the golf course. After the round, he said to me, he said, “Where were you on the 8th hole?” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding. You know that I wasn’t there on the 8th hole?” I actually had stopped to talk to, well, it was Laura Norman, at the time. I did miss the 8th hole and I said, “How in the world do you know?” He says, “I know how you walk and I know where you are and I couldn’t find you.” That was probably the nicest compliment he ever gave me. ‘Cause I didn’t even think he knew I was on the golf course, even after say 30 or 40 years of following him. So anytime I feel like golf widow, that little story comes to mind and I just smile.

Michael Williams: You know, I’m a great big mush ball and it’s not fair for you to make me cry on my own stupid radio show, okay. It’s just not cool.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, come on down and I’ll give you a hug.

Michael Williams: Sold. Last couple of questions. This is like total trivia. I happen to know what Jack’s favorite flavor of ice cream is and we share the same favorite flavor. It is in fact butter pecan…

Barbara Nicklaus: Yes, you are correct.

Michael Williams: Yes. What is your favorite flavor of Jack Nicklaus ice cream?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, some of them that haven’t been out very much they … I actually, to tell you the truth, love the vanilla.Then they have a nice black cherry, and they have a mango that’s good. There are a lot of flavors that really haven’t hit the public in force, but vanilla’s terrific.

Michael Williams: Yeah, we had a couple of bowls. Getting back to the Foundation. I know there’s a lot of people that are aware of the Foundation now, but don’t necessarily know how to contribute and/or participate. How can they get more information about contributing, going to events, that sort of thing?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, we have a website, which is Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation. We are with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami now… It was Miami Children’s Hospital, and they changed the name two years ago to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. ‘Cause there again, we’re trying to get more of a global feel and have people know we now have treated people from every state in the union and 119 countries. We’re very proud of that … just for an example, 64 pediatric cardiologists, so we have just a terrific heart program, cancer program. Our foundation supports that as well as other charities around the United States. It’s our tiny little foundation and it’s growing. The Jake Tournament, which we do every year at the Bear’s Club here Jupiter, Florida, in memory of Jake, is probably one of our biggest fundraisers, and that goes to our foundation and to some of the hospital projects.

Michael Williams: Well, I can just say that we, collectively, the golf, sports, America in general, we’re so proud of you. We are in awe of you for being the mother that you are, the wife that you are, the philanthropist that you are, and just overall the person that you are.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, Michael, that is so sweet. It’s interesting because golf has given Jack and me so much more than we could ever give back to golf or the world. It’s opened a lot of doors for us and we feel blessed that golf has opened these doors and helped us to help other children. Thank you. I loved talking to you, Michael and I hope we’ll see you soon.

Michael Williams: Thank you so much, dear. I will be down there to pick up that hug.

Barbara Nicklaus: Okay, I’ll be waiting. We’ll also feed you dinner. So, come on down for a hug and dinner.

Michael Williams: Ice cream for dessert, no doubt, right?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, sure. Absolutely.

Your Reaction?
  • 9
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending