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Readers Letters - Sep/Oct 2012

The cost of change

Looking around the course during my regular Saturday morning games it’s fair to say the take up of long and belly putters has been slow but somewhat inexorable. Now, with so many more models available and the advent of adjustable shafts allowing a proper test and fitting, surely their use is set to increase dramatically? Which leaves the USGA and R&A’s prevarication on this issue truly negligent.

When they set rules to limit drivers and then the grooves on wedges they did so by allowing a certain ‘grace period’. And that is fine for those clubs because they have a shelf-life anyway. Driver technology moves on and makes older ones redundant; wedges wear out. So the ‘grace period’ merely works alongside this.

Yet with putters the story is different. Like a dog, a putter (ideally) is for life. Broomstick and belly putters do not come cheap. If you have success using them then they certainly would be a club you keep for a substantial period of time, if not forever.

So what do the governing bodies expect us to do with these recently purchased implements? Just writeoff our £150 to £200 loss with a mere shrug of the shoulders?

I think not. Perhaps the solution is for the USGA and R&A to dig into their reserves and help fund the replacements we’ll need. I think picking up the cost of at least 50% of a replacement is entirely reasonable when trading in a belly putter for a conforming model by the same manufacturer.

To me, the above represents a fair solution if, as seems likely, the authorities make new rules to outlaw these clubs. But it is even more essential if they use existing rules to end their use. Because if the rules were already in existence then the fact they have been previously permitted for play shows a negligent failure to act that club golfers must not be financially penalised for.

S Letts, Coulsdon, Surrey

Oh, Stevie, this wasn’t your finest hour...

In the build up to the final round at Royal Lytham, TV pundits insisted that Steve Williams might be Adam Scott’s greatest asset; having guided his previous employer, one Tiger Woods, to 13 majors, Williams was identified as the “15th club in the bag.”

So where did all that experience go as Scott took a four-stroke advantage into the closing four holes? Surely it was a done deal? ‘Big Steve’ would calm his player’s nerves, nurture him back to the clubhouse, discuss and identify what clubs he should hit – after all Stevie had been at Tiger’s side in precisely this situation and had brought his man home safely.

Where was all that golfing intellect as the pair stood, ultimately, on the 18th tee – rocking on the back of three consecutive bogeys – needing a par to force a playoff with Ernie Els?

The elevated camera shots provided a glorious panorama of the challenge that is the tee shot at Lytham’s closing hole. Inexplicably, Scott took 3-wood. Where was the logic in that? Just the day before he had fired a long iron into the perfect position; all week his driving had been superb, surely this was the time to stand up and be counted, and follow Ernie with a drive into the neck of the fairway? If Steve Williams is half the caddie we are led to believe, he would have taken the decision for him and handed Scott the club for the job. But perhaps we have all been fooled into believing his credentials.

Could it be that the game’s bestknown caddie – reputedly the highest paid sportsman in New Zealand – is actually nothing more than a bag carrier and all those major victories were down to the genius of one person: Tiger Woods. If he had been such a valuable asset to Tiger then surely bringing home a talent like Adam Scott from such an advantageous position should not have been a problem – technically he was hitting all the shots. All Scott needed was a helping hand and a calming voice from the man at his side – his ‘partner’ out on the course – to achieve his greatest goal.

For those of us watching on TV, Scott appeared isolated playing those four holes. and the 3-wood off the 18th tee proved suicidal – nothing but a school-boy error on the part of the caddie. Come on Steve, do the honourable thing and fall on your sword. You are no more than an over-paid baggage handler.

Mike Reynard, Trevose

Editor’s note: Motion, er, carried! Inside, Europe’s leading mind coach, Dr Karl Morris, gives his verdict on the strategy that cost Adam Scott the title - click here.

A shout is all we’re hoping fore!

A new problem is creeping into our game. The increasing lack of a cry of ‘Fore!’ when a ball goes awry. Following the final three-ball at the Wales Open at Celtic Manor in June, I was standing to the side of the 12th fairway only to be bombarded by three drives, one after another.

Instead of the time-honoured warning, players caddies and officials simply raised their arms and pointed to the right. I’m sorry, but what possible use is this to a spectator standing 280 yards away when a missile has been dispatched at over 150mph?

Sadly, the knock-on effect will be such that amateurs will hit shots off line and wave their arms in a bid to warn those in the line of fire. The etiquette of shouting ‘fore’ will be further lost. And that makes for a dangerous situation.

As ever, we need the example to be set by the pro’s. Proper golf etiquette is really not difficult to follow – and if the pro’s are seen to conform, amateurs will follow suit.

A P Brewer, via email

My custom Odyssey

What an incredibly thorough report on putters Dominic Pedler presented in the last edition (Golf International 111). It’s definitely an issue I’ll keep and refer back to when I next change my putter – though that’s not likely to be any time soon because I think I’ve recently customised my Odyssey Tri-Ball and it’s just right for me.

Naturally it has all the regular features of the Tri-Ball - Saturn Ring Technology for a high MOI and the incredible 3-ball alignment aid that is such a big help with aiming the club. But I’ve added a couple of extra features that I noticed on a couple of models in the range of putters you reviewed in the magazine.

I have a jumbo grip to reduce wrist movement. There’s some lead tape on the sole of the putterhead, adding weight which I find helps to eliminate deceleration through the impact area. The red line that you can see drawn through the centre of the 3-balls further enhances alignment (I also have a corresponding red line marked on the balls I use).

Finally, and possibly best of all, in the accompanying photo you can see some day-glo tape that I’ve placed on the bottom rung of the putter-head just below the three elliptical inserts. With the putter sitting flush on the green this tape is only visible if I do not have my eyes directly above the line of the putt – thus alerting me to a fault with my posture.

It breaks my heart to say that I’m still not a great putter – but I am improving (especially on those nervy short ones) and at least I know that any problems are entirely down to me and not the club!

M Baria, Sutton, Surrey

Editor’s note: All I can say is Dave Pelz would be impressed! The man credited with the original patent that led to the development of the Two- Ball putter is big on matters of alignment

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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