Fat Chance I’ll Putt Like Spieth

Is an oversized putter grip from SuperStroke or CHAMP worth a shot?

I must confess to committing one of golf’s deadly sins last week. Despite having always implored golfers to try golf equipment before actually handing over the cash, I walked into my local pro shop and asked a young assistant to fit me with one of those fat putter grips Jordan Spieth used at the Masters, never having tried one before.

I know. Wrong on so many levels.

Not only was I purchasing a piece of equipment I’d never tested, I was buying it on the grounds of having seen a PGA Tour professional win a tournament using it – as if the hacks who finished below the 21-year-old Texan at Augusta National had been using vastly inferior equipment that couldn’t possibly work for a golfer like me.

It gets worse. Instead of at least looking at one or two of the many other SuperStroke grips to see which color, thickness and grip shape I might like best, I just went straight for the one Spieth had used so effectively—and had done since first using it on Tour at the 2013 Colonial, just seven weeks before he won the John Deere Classic. Then, instead of taking the grip home and putting it on myself (a really easy job), I paid the assistant to do it for me.

Okay, we’re not talking about a $500 driver, or a $300 putter. The SuperStroke Flatso Ultra cost $21.58 including tax. 

What prompted this shameless, unprincipled episode? Easy; my putting stinks, has for ages and, like any compulsive, despairing amateur, I was willing to try anything…except perhaps the $300 putter.

The yips weren’t necessarily the problem, but my stroke was anything but smooth and I definitely had a tendency to squeeze the putter grip a little tightly. And if discovering that tight grip pressure was the cause of so many three-putts was only going to cost $21.58, it seemed worthwhile.

It was KJ Choi that first set tongues wagging when he debuted his SuperStroke Fatso in 2007, a few months after seeing it advertised in an infomercial.

The Korean knew it would help quiet his hands but was initially reluctant to bring it out on Tour because it was so “big and ugly.” The potential for improved performance eventually trumped self-consciousness, and shortly after baring his Elephant Man grip to the world, Choi won the inaugural AT&T National at Congressional CC. He added the Sony Open the following season and then the prestigious Players Championship in 2011.

Choi’s grip was still seen as something of a novelty until Flatso user Jason Dufner improved his “putts from outside 25 feet” ranking from 150th to third between 2011 and 2012. Before long, Sergio Garcia, Fred Couples, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson and several others were seen supersizing their putter grip.

These days, it’s usual to see 40 or so thick, non-tapered SuperStroke grips every week on the PGA Tour.

The company now offers eleven different sizes and shapes. The Flatso Ultra used by Jordan Spieth has a flat panel at the front to enable you to position both thumbs comfortably on top, and is pentagon (“pistol”)-shaped with a defined ridge running down the back on which the top crease of the fingers rests naturally and comfortably. The Ultra measures 1.1 inches in diameter—.6 of an inch less than the original Flatso.

It’s too soon to tell if the Flatso Ultra is going to result in Spieth-like putting for me (unlikely), but I can certainly sense a smoother stroke and roll of the ball. Once I’ve adapted to the new roll, it should yield fewer three-putts and more than the occasional one-putt.

Another option might be CHAMP’s C1 putter grip ($15.99). This week, the company, better known for its plastic cleats, introduced two new digi-camo designs for the slip-resistant grip made with a very lightweight polyurethane material. Unlike the Flatso, the C1 is tapered—fatter at the top than the bottom—which might work better for some golfers.

If you lack confidence on the greens and your stroke has become a little erratic, a thick putter grip is surely worth a try. You probably won’t end up putting like Jordan Spieth but you might be just $15.99 (plus tax) away from the best putting year of your life.



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