TEEING OFF: BRENDAN JAMES
THE legendary Ben Hogan struggled with the putter in the twilight of his career. The winner of nine major championships grew increasingly frustrated that as the best ballstriker of his time he couldn’t seal the deal on the greens and add to his impressive haul of trophies. Hogan even suggested putting should be eliminated from the game.
“Hitting a golf ball and putting have nothing in common. They are two different games,” he said. “You work all of your life to perfect a repeating swing that will get to the greens, and then you have to do something that is totally unrelated.
“There shouldn’t be any cups, just flagsticks. And then the man who hit the most fairways and greens and got closest to the pins would be the tournament winner.”
Millions of golfers have probably had similar thoughts over the years as they curse missing too many three-footers. Sit in any clubhouse around Australia on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and you will inevitably overhear the phrase “if only I could putt,” uttered by someone.
Putting is the great leveller. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to emulate Tiger Woods in holing a 30-foot putt. A 27-marker, who has scrubbed three shots along the ground to reach the front edge of the green on a par-4, and be lucky enough to hit the putt just right to make an unlikely, but welcomed, par. The only difference between your average golfer and Tiger Woods on the greens is in the regularity with which they find the bottom of the cup in one or two attempts.
It only takes one or two good putts to drop and you’re hooked. Before you know it, you will be trawling through golf shops trying dozens of the latest and greatest putters to find the one – the putter that will make knee trembling three-foot downhillers as easy as shelling peas. You won’t have a second thought about handing thick wads of cash for the one and you will leave the shop looking like the cat that swallowed the canary. The night before your next round will be saturated with dreams of making lots of putts as you wield your new best friend with great prowess.
The first hole you play with your new putter is all important. A one-putt will see an unbreakable bond form between you and your putter. A three-putt will have you fishing around in your wallet for the golf shop receipt. These are words that come from personal experience. I have accrued a sizeable collection of putters during the past 35 years in my search for golf’s Holy Grail – a putter that works.
But the Grail, I believe, has been found – an Acushnet ‘Bullseye’ that has been around longer than this magazine, which I happened upon by chance while compiling a story for our next edition. A simpler looking putter you have never seen and the feel … oh my God the feel. The feel was so good, even Hogan would have enjoyed putting with it. • Apparently, I’m not the only one smitten by older equipment, check out Andrew Daddo’s column on page 130.
BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, YOU WILL BE TRAWLING THROUGH GOLF SHOPS TRYING DOZENS OF THE LATEST AND GREATEST PUTTERS TO FIND THE ONE …