TEE­ING OFF: BREN­DAN JAMES

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS - BY BREN­DAN JAMES | GOLF AUS­TRALIA ED­I­TOR

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 …

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