Now I remember what it was that I forgot. I have been spouting sage advice about putting and putters for years and years. Anyone who has shared a foursome with me has heard my tale, doubtlessly more than once, since repetition is the talisman of old age.
So at six A.M. I was in the garage rescuing an old brass-headed putter with the trade name “Sharpro” on the grip. Thirty minutes of practice on the carpet was enough to convince me – again – of what I have always known.
A putter is like a woman.
You look around until you find one you like, then you stick with her. She will give you a lifetime of irritation and a few moments of ecstasy.
When you see those fellows putting left hand low, or using one of those monster weapons with a shaft as long as a broom, you’re looking at a guy who probably isn’t happy at home either.
And the fellow with a garage full of assorted putters has obviously been looking for happiness in all the wrong places.
Loyalty matters. It is the bond that gives us security and confidence. She was there yesterday. She is there today. She will be there tomorrow. There will be good days and bad days. Together the good days will be great and the bad days not so bad.
There is one thing you can always count on. She will do exactly what she is supposed to do. Like a woman, a putter never makes a mistake. If the ball doesn’t go into the hole, it is not her fault. It’s yours.
There is nothing sadder than to see an angry golfer throwing his putter into the pond or bashing it against a tree. The beauty of the game is that it is all about personal responsibility. She may miss some short putts. But she will make a man of you, and that’s a blessing no trophy can equal.
Like a woman, a putter demands that you give her lots of time. You can’t expect success without practice. Lots and lots of practice. Lots and lots of time spent together, just the two of you. No big agenda. No deadlines. Nobody keeping score.
Sometimes what you do with your putter will make you laugh. Sometimes what you do with your putter will make you want to cry. Laughing and crying are all about being truly alive. It’s how you learn to take the good with the bad, and vice versa.
At the Greenbrier Classic a few weeks ago, PGA professional Robert Streb missed a putt on the ninth green and dejectedly tossed his putter toward his caddy. It took an odd bounce off the bag and the shaft broke just above the head.
Streb finished the round putting with his 56-degree wedge in masterful fashion, shooting a four under par 32 on the back nine. He rolled in five birdies including one from 26 feet on number 13 and a tense six footer on the 72nd hole of the tournament to earn a berth in a four man playoff for the trophy.
He was allowed to replace the broken putter for the playoff. Perhaps he should have stuck with the wedge. He was eliminated on the first extra hole.
So, yes, you can putt with a wedge, or a driver, or a seven iron. It’s possible, and sometimes – just sometimes – it works pretty well.
But wedges aren’t made for putting. Putters are made for putting. That’s what they do. That’s what you are supposed to do with them. A golfer with no putter in his bag is an oddity. Strange. Unusual. Not in the mainstream.
I suppose there will be some young golfers who will try putting with their wedges after reading about Robert Streb. Maybe some day there will be enough of them so that putters won’t be very special or important.
Then perhaps the Supreme Court will tell us that it doesn’t matter what you putt with and the White House will be lit up like a Christmas tree.
Won’t that be just dandy?