Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Putter Without a Name

The first time I shot my low round of 79, I stood on the 18th tee knowing all I needed was a double bogey to break 80.  The 18th was a dogleg right with a narrow tree-lined fairway.  I hit my drive into the trees. My second shot was a pitch out to the fairway.  I hit a thin 8 iron over the green.  My chip came up short.  I had two shots to get it in the hole and an iffy lie on the collar of the fringe. I hit a soft chip with my sand wedge, a touch too hard.  I was left with a five footer for double-bogey and a 79. It was going to be up to my putter.

The truth is, putting has always been one of my strengths.  My drives go left and right.  My iron play comes and goes.  But as far back as I can remember, I've always been one of the best putters in my group.

I've even had the same putter in my bag since I was in high school.  It's not a brand name you've heard of or one you could sell on eBay for extra cash.  It's just a simple little blade putter that used to be black and shiny. I don't use a putter cover for it anymore because it's so beat up now it wouldn't matter. I'm pretty sure my father bought it at Kmart for 17 cents when the local store went out of business. 

Some golfers are notorious for naming their putters, the most famous of which is the great Bobby Jones and Calamity Jane. I've heard of putters named Thor, Goose, Paco, and Fozzy.  But I've never given mine a special name.  It's just my putter, the only club in my bag I haven't replaced in the past 3 years.  

But a few years ago, I decided I needed a new putter.  I'd heard about putters that made it easier to line up a putt, putters that made it easier to not leave a putt short, putters that "accentuate the face angle at address, and highlight the face angle throughout the stroke."  Et cetera.  Et cetera.

I did a bunch of research, tried a handful of models, and ended up with this heavy gold thing that looked like a spider descending from a titanium spaceship.  One guy told me it looked like C-3PO's private parts. I think he was right.  After two months, I ended up giving it away and going back to my trusty old putter.  I don't think I'd describe myself as a feel player, but that club just never felt right.

Later that same summer, I was on the prowl again, giving it a go with a used Yes! brand putter named Sophia.  These things come with names stamped right on the back of the putter, lest you forget.  I tried to make it work. She had a soft face and a tender grip, but we never quite worked out.  I had a tendency to come up short.  So I gave her back to the previous owner and went back to my old putter for good.

I was glad to have my old putter back, cracked grip and all.  Because a few weeks later, when I stood over that five foot putt for a 79, I knew I'd make it.  Right in the middle of the cup.

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