Niagara Gazette

Sports

May 18, 2013

RUGGIERO: Top players thrive on greens

Niagara Gazette — “You drive for show, but putt for dough.”

“It’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive.”

These are two of golf’s timeless phrases that emphasize the relative importance between the drive and putting. While we delight in observing Tiger or Rory drive a golf ball 350 yards off the tee, the fact remains that putting is the most integral ingredient to any low score.

Think of it in simple mathematical terms. Most golf courses have par scores ranging from 70 to 72 strokes for 18 holes. Literally half or more of those shots are intended to take place with the putter.

Players often have a personal rapport with their putters. Bobby Jones, America’s first golf superstar, had his “Calamity Jane”. Ben Crenshaw used “Little Ben” for most of his career. Dave Stockton, the prince of putting, used “Psychedelic Sally” for decades.

Lefty Bob Charles, one of the game’s great putters, used the same Bullseye for more than five decades. Loren Roberts, known to informed fans as the ‘Boss of the Moss,' used a Cobra for most of his career.

Not every player manages to stay married to one putter over a lifetime. Some players hold an intense love-hate relationship with their flat stick. An indecisive Mark Calcavecchia, for example, sometimes carried two putters in his bag at the expense of a long iron. There were other occasions when he finished the day without ANY putter in his bag, due to an unprofessional fit of rage earlier in the round.

In today‘s marketplace, the variety of putters obtainable has grown significantly. There are short ones, long ones, and really long ones. There are thin blade putters and putters that resemble alien spacecraft.

This leads to the question, “Is there one that’s best for me, or is it all just hype?" The short answer is that putter characteristics do affect your success on the moss and yes, it really does matter.

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