Putting Poorly – Stick With The Trusted Blade Or Change It Up?

Putting Poorly? Fergus Bisset and Jeremy Ellwood debate whether it’s better to try out a new weapon or to work on your technique with a favourite wand.

Putting poorly
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Putting Poorly – Stick With The Trusted Blade Or Change It Up?

Trusted Blade

says Fergus Bisset

Although involving the finest of margins, the fundamentals of good putting are simple on paper – Pick a good line, get the alignment right, keep everything still and play through the ball with square face and appropriate force… Do all those things correctly and the ball has a decent chance of going in.

When you’re putting poorly, the chances are, you’re doing one of those things incorrectly. 

It’s easier to work out which of those things you’re doing incorrectly if you don’t change another variable.

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By switching putter, you may temporarily mask an underlying problem and so potentially delay the discovery of an (easily fixable) flaw in your putting action.

If you have a putter that’s served you proudly in the past – a trusted blade – it’s the tool to help you uncover the issue.

You know you’ve putted well with it so there’s no technical reason, from an equipment perspective, you shouldn’t do so again.

A quality putter will always remain a quality piece of kit. How many great putters do you know who still use a flat stick that’s decades old?

Those wizards of the greens know a simple fact – that the putter in their hands is never at fault. Only the pilot causes the error.

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If you find that mindset, you can start to consider the fundamentals of your putting and identify problems to quickly rediscover form on the greens.

If you deny that reality and keep switching blades in the vain hope some mystical putting power exists in a make or model you’re yet to try, you’re doomed to a cyclical fate of hope and disappointment on the putting surfaces. Your underlying fundamental flaw haunting you like a callous spectre.

Stick with your trusted blade to exorcise your demons, recover your technique, and hole putts once more. 

putting poorly

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Putting Poorly – Stick With The Trusted Blade Or Change It Up?

Change it up

says Jeremy Ellwood

This debate couldn’t have proved more timely for me as confidence in my generally reliable Odyssey 2-Ball has been seeping away of late. Putting is the bedrock of my game. To put it simply, if I don’t putt well, I’ve got absolutely zero chance of playing to handicap. When I reach the green, I have to have complete confidence in the wand I’m wielding. 

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I’m not putting disastrously – it’s just that I’m not holing anywhere near enough of the putts I need to hole - and have regularly holed in the past - to be competitive. Now, it’s got in my mind to the degree that I know I simply have to change things up just to give me a different feel on the greens.

I’m not advocating chopping and changing at will so you never really get to ‘know’ a putter. But having a squad, if you like, of wands that have served you well in the past sitting on the bench awaiting a recall is surely a good thing. A change is as good as a rest, they say, and I’ve often found that merely looking down on something different can breathe new life into an ailing putting stroke.

I don’t have a silly number waiting in the wings, but there is a Heavy Putter I’ve often turned to in times of trouble, along with a lovely centre-shafted Scotty. As I write this article, my final courses trip of the year is looming and I’m pretty sure at least one of these two will be making the journey with me. As for the 2-Ball, well, it’s almost certainly au revoir not goodbye. His day will surely come again when his temporary replacement starts underperforming relative to expectations.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?