Why I refuse to switch putters, even though I should
I’m a rare breed of golfer. Not only am I bad at putting, but I’ve refused to switch into a putter that may help my game for any extended period of time.
As established with my driver, I’m reluctant to switch into new golf clubs. Even though I know deep down that they might improve my game in the long run, it’s difficult to adjust to something unfamiliar. Case in point, I’ve had the same putter in my bag for about six years now. I’ll get hot with it on an extremely rare occasion, but I’m a consistently poor putter otherwise.
After I got a full-time job out of college and had a few extra dollars, I went on eBay and splurged on two Scotty Cameron TeI3 putters: a Santa Fe and a Newport 2 model. (Side note: eBay is NOT the recommended source for purchasing golf equipment that fits your game.)
I’ve wanted a Teryllium putter since Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters using one, and I was finally able to fulfill that dream. I was initially reluctant to use the Newport 2 — that’s the one Tiger used and I didn’t want anything to happen to it — so I stashed it safely away in my apartment. That left me the Santa Fe to use on the course.
Taking it to the links for the first time, I was giddy. I couldn’t wait to practice with it and put it in play. After a few strokes, I noticed the putter was significantly lighter than my previous gamer, so I added some lead tape to the cavity. It was also a bit more unforgiving on off-center strikes than expected, but I didn’t care. Despite the red flags, it was in the bag.
The more I practiced and played with the Santa Fe, the more I fell in love with the putter. Yes, I three-putted regularly and missed an unspeakable amount of makeable putts, but that didn’t matter. I loved the putter itself, and I was also getting comfortable with its look and feel. Plus, I thought, “If I’m going to three-putt every green anyway, I might as well love my putter.”
Working in the golf equipment industry throughout my professional career, I’ve always had access to not only new putters, but putter fittings. I’ve gone through full putter-fittings multiple times and actually tried different putters here and there. I would even take new putters with me when I played golf, but I’d keep the Santa Fe in the bag for backup. Invariably, the new putter would be out of play by the turn and out of my bag after just one round.
I know by now you may think I’m crazy, but there’s also a performance benefit — in my mind, at least — to sticking with one putter.
Distance control is so crucial on the greens, and changing into putters that have different faces and weights can easily throw off my feel. After years of practice and playing with the same putter, it became all I knew.
Additionally, look at all the great putters: Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker, Ben Crenshaw, Jordan Spieth, Jack Nicklaus. They all have gone through the majority of their careers using the same putter. Granted, I average north of 30 putts per round, so it’s offensive to even mention their names when discussing my game, but the point is that the philosophy of sticking with the same putter has merit.
The problem is, the putter that I’m stubbornly keeping in the bag is the wrong fit for me. Whether it’s the weight, forgiveness, or alignment features, it just isn’t getting the job done.
Recently, Tim Briand, senior vice president at our 8AM Golf sister company True Spec Golf, gave me a wake-up call on the latest Fully Equipped podcast.
“The point of putting is to make the putt,” he said.
Whoops. I guess I forgot that part.
I mentioned to Briand that I’ve gone through putter-fittings and experimented with new putters before, but he was almost offended that I’d give them a shot for a maximum of one round.
“One round?!” he said. “That’s not enough. … You have to give it at least 30 days.”
His message was received loud and clear, and it applies to golfers who change putters round after round, constantly searching for an answer to their woes. Get fit into the correct putter for your stroke, and stay with it!
All the greats stick with one putter, but remember, it has to be the right putter for you.
As I finish writing this story, I’m currently texting Tim to set up a putter-fitting appointment. I will report back with my results in a future GOLF.com article. In the meantime, check out the latest episode of Fully Equipped below where we discuss my putter and putter-fittings, as well as other hot topics including bifurcation and the USGA’s latest distance report.