The greens in Charlotte, N.C. during the Wells Fargo Championship were all too familiar to those of us who play year-round on high-volume courses. Instead of firm, smooth and quick, the pros had to deal with soggy, slow and bumpy. The state of the greens stemmed from poor spring growing conditions that have afflicted much of the central and eastern U.S.
Consider this report that included the following: “At last week’s Zurich Classic in New Orleans, players missed a total of six two-foot putts during the four rounds of play. Through two rounds of the Wells Fargo, players had already missed 27 two-footers.”
Here’s something to consider when playing on bumpy greens: Get the ball up and on top of the grass. How? A putter with more face loft.
Scotty Cameron, the famous putter designer, noted that most of his putters have 4 degrees of face loft. But his models sold in Japan have 5 degrees due to the fact that their greens are not up to our standards. The higher loft makes it easier for the face to lift the ball up.
The principle behind that is firm and smooth greens require less “skidding,” which is what the ball does after impact but before it begins rolling.
Cameron said some pros, in preparing for Augusta National, reduce their putter face loft to 3 degrees just for that purpose. But on greens like those we saw in Charlotte, the lower-loft faces drive the ball into the grass, which only puts the ball at the mercy of the uneven surfaces which can bump it off its target line.
Some putter companies, such as STX, feature putters with adjustable faces – heavier for slow greens, lighter for fast greens. That’s one way to handle speed, but it still doesn’t necessarily induce a roll that minimizes the bumpy conditions.
Finally, why didn’t the pros switch putters? Because many of them will play this weekend in The Player’s Championship, where the greens should be much better.
Touch is a funny thing.