Adam Scott, a 13-time PGA Tour winner, has learned plenty since he was 23 years old and won the 2004 Players Championship by making a 10-foot putt for bogey with a heel-toe-weighted blade putter after hitting a 5-iron into the water on the 18th hole.
Now 37, Scott has been through many putters since that victory. The Australian has evolved as a person and as a golfer, and he isn’t afraid to try something new. But he isn’t willy nilly in his choices – the 2013 Masters champ wants plenty of information to guide his decision-making.
A big part of his evolution has been his willingness to try different kinds of putters, putting grips and putting styles. The Australian knows he is one of the best ballstrikers in the world, but he is not passively allowing his weakness – putting – to go unchecked. As tennis star Billie Jean King once said, “Never change a winning game plan, but always change a losing one.”
He finished the 2016-17 PGA Tour season ranked 91st in strokes gained: putting with a 0.054 average, meaning he averaged that much better than the field on the greens per round. That was an improvement on the 2015-16 season, when he ranked 129th on Tour in that category. In 2014-15, he ranked 157th.
Scott tried several blades and mallets in the 2000s, then starting using a broomstick-style putter anchored to his sternum at the 2011 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He continued to use anchored, broomstick-style putters of various types until anchoring was banned in 2016. His strokes gained: putting average has improved each year since letting go of the broomstick.
These days he prefers a high-MOI mallet and uses a pencil grip, holding the club in a traditional way with his left (top) hand and pinching the grip between his forefinger and thumb in his right hand. After stopping at the Scotty Cameron studio in San Marcos, Calif., on his way to the Dell Technologies Championship, Scott put a new center-shafted, dark-finished Futura 6M prototype putter into play.
“There are so many more facts to it now,” Scott said last week. “Before, it was just belief, and misconceptions, misinterpretations or bad information. Now I like using some of the facts.”
In Scott’s case, the facts are shown on high-speed video at the Scotty Cameron studio. For amateur players, actionable facts can come from working with a PGA of America professional during a putting lesson or from a good custom-fitter.
“When you see it on video, you can’t question the stroke,” Scott said. “Yes, I’m using a center-shafted putter and it is face-balanced, so there will not be face rotation, but it is short and flat, so (the stroke) arcs naturally.”
The takeaway for recreational golfers is that if you are having trouble on the greens, take action. Talk with your instructor and club-fitter, and be sure there is not something mechanical in your stroke that is hurting your performance. Be sure your putter matches the stroke your naturally make, whether it is fairly straight, slightly arched or on a strong arc. There are no absolute rights or wrongs when it comes to putting so long as the ball finds the hole, but you give yourself the best chance when your putter and your stroke compliment each other.
Follow Scott’s lead, get as much information as you can and use it wisely.