Scotty Cameron is Smarter than You.
Seems I’ve been talking putting a lot lately with my clients. This is one of my favorite and one of my most popular articles from way back in 2012. Thought I’d repost it. It’s always relevant. Thanks to my friend Pete Bilheimer back in Savannah, Georgia, for posing for the photo.
Here’s a golfing tale with which we’re all familiar. If it doesn’t describe you, it surely describes one of your golfing buddies.
So, you’ve just bought a new Scotty Cameron because you can’t make a 4 foot putt to save your life. It sure is pretty! Not only that, it’s a trophy. It’s proof that not only are you a serious golfer, but one of taste as well. You can’t wait to show the guys because they’re going to want one too. They’ll envy you. Status, baby! That’s what it’s all about.
You go to the course and one by one each of your friends sees, inspects and takes a few whacks with your new baby. Everyone is drooling over her and telling you how good she feels. The attention is intoxicating. You’re a star!
So you now go to play your round and as you approach each green, everyone in your group has their eyes squarely on you—because now you’ll make everything. Right?
As the round goes on and the short ones fail to drop, you can sense your friends’ disappointment, because it’s the same old story. You’re still one of them. You have been exposed. Your buddies know that there is no magic cure in that stick. You use your same tired excuses, “I’ve just got to get used to it,” and, “It’s a little different than my other Scotty.” Then one of your friends asks, “What are you going to do with your old putter? Can I buy it from you?” You respond, “Which one? I have a garage full of them.”
Boom. The lightbulb finally goes off. You realize that your putting is not getting any better. You’ve struggled with the same problem for as long as you can remember, and worse than that, you are not so much a golfer as you are a “collector.” You own enough putters to start a putt-putt course. You cry out in desperation, “Why don’t I ever get better?!”
~ The End ~
I hate to break it to you, but it’s you.
When I give a putting lesson the very first thing I look at is whether the putter is soled properly. Sounds basic, but rarely do I see it sitting on the green the way it was designed to sit.
Scotty Cameron and other top club designers have dedicated their working lives trying to make putting easier for all golfers, both amateur and pro. However, not one of them that I know of has ever designed a putter that wasn’t intended to be soled squarely on the ground. Yet, I see more toes in the air then you’d see at a morgue. So then the question I ask is, “Why do you do that?”
If you don’t sole the club properly you are, in essence, voiding the warranty, with any putter. Club designers like Scotty Cameron are craftsmen. If he saw you using his creation incorrectly, he’d be sad. Don’t undo his genius.
There are many reasons golfers miss putts, but if you don’t set the club up properly before it ever starts in motion, you’re fighting a losing battle—emphasis on losing.
When the toe is in the air, many things are going wrong. For one thing, you’re probably standing too far from the ball, which means the ball isn’t directly under your eyes, as almost every teacher in the world encourages.
If you are too far from the ball, and your toe is in the air, you will pull many putts. When you get tired of pulling putts, you’re hands will say, “This stinks, I don’t want to do that.” Then you will begin to push putts. After your confidence has been completely eroded away, you will find yourself standing over 3 and 4 footers wondering things like, “Who am I? Where am I?” Then, it’s off to Edwin Watts! You think, “Maybe I can buy my way out of this funk.”
Fact of the matter is, all of your putters work! The problem is that most golfers adjust the putter to their own faulty set-up.
So, here’s the lesson: Sole the putter flat on the ground, then adjust your stance so that the putter stays soled properly. It’s pretty easy. Just keep inching in a little closer to the ball until the putter head is perfectly flat. Some of you will feel too close to the ball, but you’re not! If you feel too close, it’s only because you were too far away to begin with. In the proper position (second photo), you’ll use your hands less, your big muscles more, and you’ll hole tons more putts.
All golfers need to come to terms with the fact that they can’t buy their way out of bad mechanics.
Do me a favor. Send me the next 300 beans you would have spent on a new putter. Leave a comment and I’ll give you my address.
We’ll talk a lot more about putting soon.
Great read! I read about certain putters being good for certain types of strokes. Is there a way to tell what model/type of putter is best for you?
Rob! Thanks for reading! Trial and error is the best way to tell what is right for you. I think the biggest problem with finding the right putter is folks not having an open mind when looking. I love putters because it is the one club in your bag where just about anything goes. Just look at what Matt Every is putting with! Personally, I think most amateurs would benefit from a mallet style putter that is face-balanced. They are designed to keep the face square to the target longer which will eliminate excessive hand rotation. Let me know if you need to help determine if a putter is face-balanced.
Haha. If someone has a Scotty cameran please add my address to coach’s. 😉 good point coach. There was a time when my putting wasn’t great. If I look back on it it was all to do with finding a proper stance, posture and grip that worked for me. My putting is one of my best things, along with chipping but now that you mention about the toe being up or down, I remember seeing it first hand from people I’ve played with. They always had the toe in the air! And you could hear the less than solid contact when they hit the ball, and it was more of a hit than a smooth stroke from the shoulders. My putting is great and it’s all from a good set up and mind frame. My putter is flat, I’m the proper distance from the ball, I let my shoulders do the work while my hands stay soft and neutral, and then I have the confidence and belief in myself “I will make this.” I’ve noticed when I hadn’t putted so well in the past my distance from the ball and my putter face wasn’t square on the ground were the leading factors. As with the golf swing, a good set up is the KEY to giving you the best chance for success each time.
This is a good lesson for anyone struggling to make putts. Instead of getting upset, frustrated and wondering what you’re doing wrong, first check your putter lie like coach says. Place it flat on the ground, then stand behind it and do practice strikes off to the side of the green. This will clear your mind of the bad strokes and misses of before and allow you to calm your thoughts, feel the rhythm of the stroke and how smooth it should feel and will when you set up properly. Get it done and good luck! It’s all about the short game! Gotta love it! 🙂
What if the heel is slightly up (like Steve Stricker)?
Alright Blue 49 (pete) I knew I’d get this question.
Steve Stricker is one of the best putters in the world. His heel in the air is unique but the good thing about this is that is a sign he is close enough to the ball and his eye is directly over the ball. I would recommend this rather than the alternative because the putter swings on more of a straight back, straight through path and the face stays square to the target line. Also, there is a beautiful straight line formed from his putter head all the way up to his elbow.
Thanks for your support,following and tweeting. Much appreciated.
This was the first lesson I had with coach and since then my putting has greatly improved. It is a simple step and highly effect. There is no reason for changing putters or adjusting putters to a faulty set up. Placing the putter flat on the ground and moving closer to the ball will not only improve your stroke but help read lines better. Great lesson Coach!
I love this post, Coach. Funny & smart. Write more, please.
This is a great point! Every putter is designed to be flat on the ground, whether you have bought it off the shop shelf or had it customized to your own preferences they are all designed to be addressed in the same way. If the putter’s sole is flat on the ground that’s already half the battle won with putting, its then up to the individual to put a positive stroke on the putt. Scotty Cameron putters are beautiful putters but if your not using it as the designers intended, in effect your decreasing its value.
Coach taught me very well with set up and address to putting, if your eye line is center to the ball the putter should be lying flat, putting is pretty easy after that!
That’s a great point Coach. We have worked on my putting in the past but I understand what you are saying with the putter being a “status.” After switching from a belly putter to a short putter, it is important to have the correct starting position! Like Blue 49 touched on, I feel as if my heel is slightly off the ground to get me more on top of the ball. Work in progress!
Do people realize that golf is the same as any other sport? If you go out and buy a new basketball, you’re not going to magically get better at the sport. There are members at my home golf course who are always substituting buying new golf clubs for lessons (like this one) and it drives me nuts. I would agree that its nice to change up what you’re looking down at once in a while, but if you change because you’re putting poorly, then it’ll just lead you into this vicious cycle of wasting hundreds and hundreds of dollars while your putting stagnates or even declines.
Coach you make a great point here. Scotty Cameron is a master craftsmen. However, if you can’t address the ball properly your not going to put a good roll on the ball. Having said that, what are your thoughts about the Ping Fit for Stroke system (provided the player is starting from the right position)?
Thats the key- starting from the right position. That was the whole point of the article. Pretty, shiny and new will never trump fundamentals.
Coach I definitely agree that changing putters often is never the answer to long term results, however throughout my playing carrer I have often putt significantly better after a putter change. Do you think this is just psychological or do you think I may just be focusing more after buying a new putter resulting in better results? Also, I know having the toe in the air putting can cause you to pull the ball off line but what about great putters like Steve Stricker who have the heel a little off the ground while putting? Is this a more successful technique?
We have worked on my putting quite a bit since I have been at school. I’ve never thought to much about keeping my putter soled correctly but I will have to check it out. There are many simple fixes to putting and I enjoy reading pieces of advice that will instantly improve my game. Thanks for all the help so far with my putting. It has made me a more consistent putter and has lead to lower scores.
I’ve had the mentality that the putter doesn’t make the putts, it’s the player. And this article really supports that. I’ve had the same putter for a while now, and have ups and downs depending on the day, but I think that it’s really about the stroke you put on the ball. I’m going to have to take a look and see if my putter is squarely on the ground during my future rounds.
Interesting article, I will apply this theory to my personal game. I believe this will help create a better roll off the face. The ball will hold its line more effectively. Putts will be struck more solidly. Thanks for the insight!
“Its not the arrows, its the Indian” I agree with Antonez, he made some really good points. I have been working on laying the putter square on the ground. I have noticed that the toe of my putter is often off the ground. The second thing that I have been working on is creating a straight line from my elbow, through my forearms and into the putter shaft. The best putters in golf all have this line that connects body to putter. By doing this they take the small muscles out of the stroke (the wrists and fingers) and let the big muscles (shoulders) control the club.
As a young golfer I always remember gettting caught up on what the newest scotty putter was and being envious of all of those around me who had them. As I have gotten older, I realized and came to appreciate exactly what you discussed above, its not the putter, but how you use it. Improper set up to the ball will result in improper putts and the one essential aspect of putting is soundness and consistency in your set up and stroke. It is easy to get caught up thinking putting is a unique thing to every individual, but the absolute basics most be correct in order to achieve success.
When things go bad, return to the fundamentals of golf. From experience putting is an art however there is one design that seems to be universaly accepted; the answer design. Wether it’s a Scotty a ping or any other brand more pros have used this design than any other. And they rely on it to make a living.
This article just shows how vital a proper setup is in putting. I used to be the kid that always had a new putter, thinking that it would improve my putting. But coach you have enlightened me on the proper setup and it has definitely improved my putting, much more than any new putter could have.
I used to have a Scotty, mainly because it is kind of like a “trophy”. When I used the scotty the toe was way in the air like you said. I just switched to an Odyssey this year, it lies on the ground flat and I make a lot more putts. My problem is I will have a great set up for a while, but then without noticing I start to get to far away, or my stance gets open. Maybe if I focus on keeping the putter flat from now on my stance wont get messed up.
Great point Coach! This is something that my first teacher always stressed. I can’t say I have ever played a Scotty but my Nike seems to sit pretty nicely on the ground thanks to brilliant advice like this. There are so many models of putters out there and they are all designed well enough to put a good roll on the ball, that is, if they’re used properly. This is something that should be monitored on a regular basis as it could potentially be the root of all putting evils. Thanks for the tip!
Asking questions are really nice thing if you are not understanding anything fully, except this post gives pleasant understanding
Something so simple as placing the sole flatly on the round, can truly make such a big difference. It’s cool to see how the small things can effect the major parts of the game. I know now I will be practicing getting that sole very flat behind the ball. And although I realize this may not enhance my game exponentially, I know that I will be able to role the ball more consistently how I want in pressure situations. We’re all out here to get better however we can.
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