News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Rub of the Green

July 31, 2011

Golf: ‘The Game You Love to Hate’

TERRE HAUTE — Golf has been called “The Game You Love to Hate.” In addition, love-hate relationships have been around since the beginning of time. 

Golfers can also find themselves in a love-hate relationship with one of their clubs, and that would be the putter.

That’s right, the shortest, lightest club in a golfer’s bag creates more mayhem than any other club you might name. Par figures allow the expert player two putts on each hole. That’s 36 putts for 18 holes, which seldom would make most golfers happy.

Players on the PGA Tour know that to win at their level they had better keep their putting totals in the low to middle twenties.

When a golfer is knocking putts into the cup from all angles, the world is a happy, fun place and love prevails.  The putter gets hugs and kisses as its owner struts to the podium to receive his trophy and prizes.

When the putter balks and ignores the cup as though it contains the plague, pity the poor instrument that has created this chaotic situation. Putters are then thrown into lakes, pounded against trees and snapped in two pieces against the golfer’s knees.

Experienced putter throwers recommend always throwing the putter ahead so that it will not be necessary to walk back to retrieve the misbehaving flat stick.

Of all the clubs in a golfer’s bag, the putter is the one most often replaced. Golfers are always looking for the magic which a substitute putter might possess. Arnold Palmer, back in the 1960s, admitted to owning an arsenal of some 300 putters.

Most pro shops have always stocked an ample supply of putters, some with catchy names such as “Cash In,” “Bulls Eye,” “Jack Pot” and “Rabbit’s Foot.” Names such as these conjure up positive images in a golfer’s mind.  One putter had the shaft coming from the toe of the club and was named “basakward.” It has never been very popular.

One player back in the 1930s would tie his putter to the back bumper of his car and drag it to his next tournament. When he won a tourney, the putter could be found on the bed at his motel with the head of the putter resting on a pillow.

The putter, more than any other club, obviously knows the meaning of a love-hate relationship.

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