Long Live the King!

I was crushed!  About a three weeks ago I reached for my 12- to 13-year-old PING CRAZ-E putter and the top alignment piece was gone. This was especially disheartening because not only had I been putting pretty well recently, there were a lot of memories attached to it. Our club’s head pro Jon Helmker and assistant Seth Baker both helped me in the whittling down process and our retired head pro, Stan Thirsk, took me out to the putting clock for a final test drive. I will never forget his words, “Let’s just see how that looks on you.” He asked Seth to have the shaft bent so it would be slightly more upright.

The King Is Dead!

Like every relationship, it wasn’t perfect. Once or twice, I went back to my old Zebra putter for a week or two and there was a 6-month affair with a long putter and later a brief fling with a Taylor-Made putter I found on EBay.

The PING CRAZ-E seemed to know that my off-and-on putting woes were my fault and that sooner or later it would make it back into my bag. My list of mistakes that our current head pro, Andy Fisher, chronicled over the years were many -- head movement; peeking; standing too close to the ball; standing too far away from the ball; bad grip; a short, quick backstroke, etc. Not once did Andy ever accuse the putter, which didn’t stop me from asking one of our assistants, Paul Hooser, what he thought of my setup and putter right before I went out to play on a Friday afternoon in mid-May. Before I knew it, Paul opened up his iPing 2.0 app and had me putting inside the Pro Shop. The app is supposed to provide a precise tool that “analyzes five key performance indicators in the putting stroke: 1) Closing angle. 2) Impact angle. 3) tempo. 4) lie angle. 5) shaft lean.”

After recording five putts, Paul looked at the app and said, “Your putter is fine. Do one thing for me: Move back from the ball a bit.” For the next three weeks my putting improved greatly. The Ping and I were a highly functional team.

And then it happened. On Friday, June 4, the music died. The Ping’s alignment top piece was MIA. I looked everywhere, but no luck. Paul even contacted Ping, but he received a we-regret-to-inform-you reply. It was only then when I realized that I had start looking for a new putter.

I was alone in the wilderness, a lost soul searching through dozens of magazine and website ads and reviews to find out what was the best putter for me. I learned that there were too many different types and variations -- toe-balanced, blade, mallet, face-balanced, offset, center-shaft, toe-hang – for a right-brainer like me to really understand. That’s when I decided to wave the white flag and ask for a little help.

Mr. Hooser came to the rescue! Paul knew in order to keep the buying process moving along he had to take control. He picked out four mallet-style putters and we then did the laser test inside. He then HANDED me two putters and we headed to the putting clock. After about 10 putts with each putter, Paul said, “I think you should have a decision.” Without hesitation I agreed.

I am now the proud and happy owner of a Scotty Cameron Select Flowback 5, which Paul customized with a mid-size Super Stroke grip. Word Of Warning: What I never even thought about during the buying process was the price. It wasn’t until I said, “I’ll take it,” did I look at the sticker, which read $400. “That’s a lot of money for a putter,” I thought. However, a few days after the purchase another one of our assistants, Tyler Dunn, put the $400 into perspective. “What percentage of your strokes are putts?” he asked. Before I could answer, he said, “Over 40.”

Don’t you just hate it when somebody makes his point so quickly and succinctly?

Play Away!

Allan Stark

Leave a comment