We periodically survey the golf landscape to showcase interesting developments in the world of putters and putting. Here’s the latest roundup:
Phil’s Belly Putter
Well, the belly putter trend may have already jumped the shark now that Phil Mickelson is using one.
Last week, belly putters were the hot new weapon being wielded by the young guns to help forge the next generation of elite golfers. But in Mickelson’s hands, it seems more like the same old curiosity, if not a familiar act of desperation.
Of course, the truth is probably in between: Belly putters are likely on the rise, but the trendiness may be short lived. As Marius Filmalter recently noted on Golf.com, the top putting performers on tour—as measured by a new putting statistic (more on that below)—still use traditional-length putters.
Stockton’s Signature Trick
In a recent Wall Street Journal feature, Dave Stockton shares his thoughts on the role of the left hand in putting: “Most people teach that the right hand [for right-handed players] controls the putting stroke. This is where I’m different. The rest of the game, the long game, is right-handed, but putting and low chipping are the exceptions. The right hand controls feel and speed in putting, but the left hand should be in charge of direction.”
Stockton prefers that the back of the left hand travel directly down the target line after impact, as opposed to completing a fluid arc, as is taught by other leading instructors.
The New PGA Tour Putting Statistic
Did you know that the PGA Tour has implemented a new putting statistic that is reportedly much more effective at determining a professional’s putting prowess.
The new (and, alas, horribly named) Strokes Gained-Putting stat “measures a player’s putting performance relative to his fellow competitors in a tournament and will offer a more accurate portrayal of his overall putting performance.”
The new stat aims to replace Putts Per Round as the dominant measurement. Putts Per Round “simply measures the average number of putts a player takes over 18 holes and can be skewed by chipping close to the hole after missing a green.”
In other words, Putts Per Round is sort of like a pitcher’s wins and losses in baseball: a general indicator, but not the whole story.
Strokes Gained-Putting, however, “takes into account putting proficiency from various distances and computes the difference between a player’s performance on every green—the number of strokes needed to hole out—against the performance of the other players for each round. This ultimately shows how many strokes are gained or lost due to putting for a particular round, for a tournament and over the course of a year.”
(Click here for the full explanation, because you’ll need it after reading that FedEx Cup-style summation).
So who’s the tour leader in putting according to the new stat? Steve Stricker.