Putting proficiency has been analyzed, imagined, hyped, and argued about for as long as I’ve been alive. Never more so than when the market for putters responded to slick marketing gimmicks (masquerading for objective empirical evidence of performance differentials) by purchasing these so-called advanced technology putters by the millions.
So when a player is a “good putter” in the old paradigm (pre-Black Swan), he’s not likely to attribute his apparent ability to anything simple like fundamental physics. He couldn’t. The putter physics and geometry were a hampering factor, not a supporting one.
And there’s a darn good reason for that. Start with this thought… you had to be a bit of an artist to make the old putters work. Here are some examples…
Dave Stockton was able to pre-set with a forward press his putter into a position that minimized one of the defects in all putters… and must have been incredibly talented to do that consistently, as if he hadn’t been a genius at it, his putterface geometry errors would have resulted in poor putting forever. Was he an artist? Darn right, and had to be. Otherwise you wouldn’t know who he was. Mr. Stockton, meet Mr. Mozart… also a wizard of dexterity.
Ben Crenshaw had a magical touch with a putter that essentially has an unstable head and unbalanced sweet spot distribution, the 8802. I, like many of my generation, attempted to putt like Mr. Crenshaw. No such luck. Collectively (those of us that wanted to putt like Crenshaw) we must have three putted more than all other players combined. Mr. Crenshaw, meet your peer, Michaelangelo. To manipulate that 8802 so perfectly you are truly one in a billion.
Jack Nicklaus made more important putts than any man alive. His incredible 26 year run of pressure putting brilliance, in that crouch, looking down the line, was an image that will forever inspire tournament players over pressure putts. He claimed to be a poor putter early in his career. He wasn’t. Just that the greens were so much worse early in his career, by comparison he made less. He did it with a variety of putters, from an Iron Master to a Bullseye to the Response ZT. Mr. Da Vinci, meet Mr. Nicklaus… the most versatile artist of all.
What do these gentlemen have in common? Each was an extraordinary talent. Each used putters (tools) that were frankly speaking… defective. Brutally unforgiving. Unbalanced. Sent the ball on an initial vector that did not match the apparent face alignment.
But now, you have to stop and really think… were their achievements good only relative to all others who also wielded incapable tools? How would they have been with a putter that “putts where it aims”… and “can’t hit a bad putt”.
Finally, with a tool that no longer detracts from the talent of the user, we can find out how good a player can actually putt.
We did find this out. 60 top players tested. 43% more makes.
Science serves the Artist. It’s not the Artist’s enemy.