Lest we forget, golf has long been a shotmaker’s game. The era of perfect putting surfaces, solid core distance balls, and 46 inch 460cc clubheads is still in its infancy. The greater annals of golfing history are filled with men and women who distinguished themselves through the quality of their striking, breadth of imagination, and mental fortitude to physically create what once existed only in the mind’s eye. The ability to work the ball – left, right, high, low, off sidehills and downslopes, tight lies and hardpan, different grass types and in varying weather conditions – was of paramount importance to championship caliber golf. Classic courses of the persimmon age demanded it. Shotmaking Corner will serve, I hope, to preserve a few bits and pieces of the once great body of knowledge of the great shotmakers should the next generation express a desire to direct the game back towards a more traditional form.
The Shotmaking of Putting by Jack White
As with most good conversations, there were several sub-threads within the “Set for All Seasons” dialogue that deserve to be explored further. One such point was raised by hickorychris AKA stixman with respect to the legacy of Ping Anser putters. Is the Anser a classic blade in the traditional sense? Certainly it’s old (about 50 years since generation one) and often copied. But here is the counter which I believe to be irrefutable:
“…While the advantage, realistically marginal as you say, of high MOI putters is that a more consistent strike may be obtained, to a touch and feel player this may well be quite limiting. In fact the only way these putters work is if the ball is struck close to the centre point (may or may not be the sweet spot). The advantage of a true blade is that different effects may be conjured by not hitting the ball out of the centre of the blade. Try hitting a Ping Anser out of the toe on a slippery downhiller to see what I mean, or try hitting it out of the heel to hold the ball against a right to left slope. This is stuff which is meat and drink to old school blade putters (mine is a 1950s flanged blade by Donaldsons of Glasgow, a firm unknown except to the hickory brigade). I have no problem with anything you say and applaud your presentation. My feeling is that the Ping style of putter started a process of both de-skilling and removing artistry from the most important scoring element of the game. I know this is swimming against the tide of progress but it is why I find it difficult to find a place for Pings etc in my bag. “
Now we’re talking! Where is this kind of instruction in modern teaching philosophy? It will be hard to find at a Sam Putting Lab or on a Tomi infrared sensor system. I’ll admit that there is an admirable thoroughness in having “one swing for all full shots” and “one stroke for all putts ” but for better or worse, I’m in love with the idea of learning golf one shot at a time (or better yet, one club at a time). And to build up your putting arsenal, here are some bullets, courtesy of Scotland’s Jack White, Open Championship winner at Royal St. George’s (1904).
The Downhill and Uphill Putts by Jack White
1. The Downhill Putt
This putt, to my mind, is the most difficult of all, and took me longer to find out how to do it than all the other strokes put together. I stand a little more in front of the ball, gripping the club quite loosely ; the is hit on the point of the putter, the heel being raised about one inch from the ground, and the putter face laid slightly back. After a little practice, having discovered the right way to use the putter, I found I could put sufficient drag on the ball to stop it on the fastest green. It is quite simple to keep the line with an ordinary putting cleek, and no other putter will answer the purpose.
2. The Uphill Putt
The uphill putt is just the reverse of the downhill: the toe of the putter is cocked up, the heel resting on the ground. This, together with the turning over of the right wrist at the proper moment, puts “top” on the ball, an counteracts the tendency to be short.
It’s interesting that White proscribes an ordinary putting cleek (blade) “and no other putter will answer the purpose”. Prophetic words… I guess we know how he’d weigh in on the cavity backed Anser for these types of shots!