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The best putter in the world uses a $70 putter that he re-paints himself

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Taylor Montgomery currently leads the PGA Tour in putting average, overall putting average, one-putt percentage, and putts per round. Plus, he ranks 3rd in Strokes Gained: Putting.

All things considered, he’s a top-3 putter in the world right now, and he’s probably not two or three.

So, what custom, high-end, 1-of-1 prototype does he use? Well, he actually uses a stock TaylorMade Ghost Spider S putter from 2013… that he re-paints himself!

 

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Some brief third-party research shows similar offerings are currently listed for under $80.

And, no offense to Montgomery, but the ones listed on the market “in fair condition” might actually be in better shape than his – I’m not sure the dents and uneven globs of paint would help the resale value much (of course, Montgomery’s particular putter would sell for more since the best putter in the world uses it, but you know what I mean).

Anyway, Montgomery has been using the putter since college at UNLV, and when the paint gets chipped enough to be distracting, he applies blue painters tape to the face and uses white spray paint to “refurbish” it to his liking.

I caught up with Montgomery on Tuesday at the 2023 PGA Championship to check out the putter for myself, and he said he doesn’t care about the uneven paint job on the body of the putter, he just wants the perpendicular toplines to be crisp for visual alignment.

Aside from the paint job, the combination of a low-lofted face (between 1-1.5 degrees), the way the sole sits, and the overall forgiveness of the over-sized mallet have made it difficult for him to find a replacement that has any staying power. He even has a fresher-looking backup of the same putter, but it just doesn’t sit quite the same.

This putter simply works perfect for him, regardless of the cosmetics.

And believe it or not, he actually gave the putter a new paint job just last week.

Through the years, he’s also had the Pure Roll insert on the face replaced, but he’s left that relatively more-complicated task up to the professional builders.

I wrote way more about Montgomery’s putter over at PGATOUR.com, but I wanted to expand a bit more here on GolfWRX from a club fitting perspective.

It’s easy for amateurs to read a story like this and think to themselves, “Why would I waste money on a new, expensive putter when the best putter in the world uses THAT?!

Not a bad point, really, and I agree that used golf equipment can be a smart purchase when done right.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that there are real reasons Montgomery feels comfortable with that putter – and not just because he’s had it forever. The design, the CG, the feel of the face, the loft, the sole, the length, the grip, the weight, and the alignment lines all match up to what Montgomery wants and needs for his stroke style and body type.

It’s extremely unlikely to simply buy a random, used, stock putter and start putting lights-out with it.

In my opinion, it’s most helpful to gain an understanding of what basic putter specifications suit you best before making a new purchase, whether it’s used or new.

My suggestion is to always consult a fitter or local pro so you know what hosel type, head shape, grip size, and alignment lines work best for your particular eye sight, stroke style, height, hand size, arm length, posture, and so many other factors.

It’s not easy to do alone, especially in the putter category where there’s a million options.

If you can’t get with a fitter, my next best suggestion is to get into a local golf store or pro shop and demo out some different putters yourself. Try out putters with a soft insert, and ones with a firmer one-piece face. Try out plumbers necks and double-bends, blades and mallets, long putters and short putters, long grips and big grips, and definitely try out putters that have different visual alignment mechanisms.

For me personally, I started putting the best I ever have in my life this past year after switching into a custom-fit Ping PLD putter that I got fit for me at Ping’s PLD Lab.

That putter will run you about $1,200 for the full treatment, but I’m not putting better because it’s expensive or looks cool (I mean, it does look cool, and I like it a lot, but that’s not why it’s effective for me). This isn’t a Ping ad, either. I’m just putting better because I found out that a 0.5-inch longer putter helps me stand more comfortably at address, allowing my arms to swing more freely, and I align better to my target without any alignment lines on the top of the putter. I tend to align too far left with a line, and I miss the center of the face more often with a dot.

If I were value shopping, I could simply use that information try to find a less expensive 35.5-inch blade style putter with a plumbers neck and blank toplines, with weight and grip style that suits me.

But I only have that information because I went through the fitting process.

Everyone is different, but I do believe there’s a right putter setup for everyone. Then, once you find the right one, stick with it. Look at all the best putters throughout recent history – Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Denny McCarthy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Luke Donald, Brandt Snedeker, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Brad Faxon, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, Harris English, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Taylor Montgomery – they all used the same putter for years, especially in their putting primes.

The secret to finding the right putter is experimentation, ideally under the watchful eye of an expert, and then once you find “the one,” stick with it for at least a few months, even when things seem to be going poorly. Have confidence that the putter is right for you, and give your hands, eyes and mind some time to get comfortable.

The right putter for you could be a chopped up used putter, or it could be a custom high-end option. But before you commit to a new purchase, take the time to learn what style of putter works best for you, and then go shopping for one you like within your budget.

The point is that, yes, a putter that’s only $70 could be perfect for you, as long as it fits into your baseline specs. Or, maybe it’s a $5,000 one-off that’s hand-made for you. It’s up to you to use the resources available to you to find your putter.

OK, I’ve said enough.

Click here to see all of our photos from the 2023 PGA Championship

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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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pat

    May 23, 2023 at 11:21 am

    Looks like he used Whiteout….after an all night bender.

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Whats in the Bag

Taisei Shimizu WITB 2024 (June)

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Driver: Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7 X

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 HL (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7.5 X

5-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 HL (19 degrees)
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Putter: Scotty Cameron 009M

Grips: Elite

See more in-hand photos of Taisei Shimizu’s clubs here.

 

 

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Patrick Cantlay WITB 2024 (June)

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Driver: Titleist GT2 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60 TX

Photo via Patrick Cantlay on Instagram.

3-wood: Titleist TSR2+ (14.5 degrees)
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Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 80 TX

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Putter: Scotty Cameron T-5 Proto
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Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Check out more in-hand photos of Patrick Cantlay’s WITB in the forums.

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Three Swing Challenge: Testing the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond Max driver

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Callaway recently released the Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond Max Driver, and BK is ready to see where it stacks up in this week’s Three Swing Challenge!

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Many years ago, the legendary Barney Adams, founder of Adams Golf told us this:

“My formula as a fitter was three shots only. I discounted No. 1 just because it was the first one, counted 100 percent of No. 2 and discounted No. 3 because the player was starting to adjust.”

Read more about the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond Max driver in our launch piece.

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