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Why doesn't everyone putt sidesaddle ?


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The videos in the last several posts are interesting. I can see where an accusation of anchoring might be a problem. Seems like you'd have to be awfully careful to be sure the end of the grip didn't appear to be touching your body or shoulder. 

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On 5/8/2021 at 11:25 AM, QuigleyDU said:

Umm.. One dude that was really good at this is the definition of anecdotal. A 2015 article and I have not seen a single side saddler since then.. Sounds like this might be the beta to the VHS.. 

 

It's actually far more that "one dude".  You can go back to Snead, who won 4 times on Tour putting side saddle with an old Bullseye, you can add KJ Choi, who putted side saddle on Tour for a little while, including in the British Open, Grant Waite, who has putted this way on the Champions Tour a bit, and Randy Haag, who has been one of the better senior amateurs in the world for many, many years and the club champion at Olympic Club many times over.  You can add Dechambeau, who putted side saddle for a lot of his amateur career and then did it on Tour until the USGA correctly ruled that his putter was non-conforming.  And that's just at the highest levels of the game; I play a lot of state and local tournament golf, and I think you'd be surprised at how frequently I run across guys who putt side saddle.

 

Perhaps more to the point, anybody who uses the broomstick (Langer, Singh, Scott, McCarron, et al) is more than halfway there; they are putting with one hand and using the other as a fulcrum.  For reasons of their own, they have chosen not to face the hole, but I don't think that's really particularly surprising, given three factors.  One, they've been standing parallel to the line of play for their entire lives.  Two, the stroke they are using gets rid of most of the biggest problems that conventional putting involves, notably finding ways to quiet the hands and wrists and staying still.  And third, they are playing for big money, and they just don't have time to burn learning a new technique, especially when the one they are using has gotten rid of the problems they had with conventional putting.

 

And I'll add one more thing: EVERYTHING you see, even on Tour, that isn't pure "conventional" putting, from the claw to the saw to left hand low to arm lock to the broomstick and the belly putter before the anchoring ban, is an attempt to make the putting stroke more one handed and to get rid of the issue of making a relatively delicate motion with two hands.  The ONLY difference between all of that and side saddle is the decision to face the hole and continue to use binocular vision while putting instead of just to line the putt up. 

 

All of this stuff about what the Tour pros do and do not do reminds me of the story Harvey Penick tells in the The Little Red book about grip pressure; he's trying to get a student to lighten his grip pressure, and the student says, "But Arnold Palmer holds the club tightly."  To which Penick replies, "Yes, and you aren't Arnold Palmer."  There is a TON of stuff that I see Tour pros do successfully that I can't do; I can't hit the hop and stop chip shot from just off the green with a lofted wedge.  I can't hit it 300+ off the tee anytime I need to.  I can't hit a 3W off the ground consistently.  I'm not very good at flop shots.  I don't think it's especially surprising, or instructive, that you don't see Tour pros converting to side saddle, either.  That has little, if anything, to do with me, my equipment, or how I play the game.

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5 minutes ago, me05501 said:

The videos in the last several posts are interesting. I can see where an accusation of anchoring might be a problem. Seems like you'd have to be awfully careful to be sure the end of the grip didn't appear to be touching your body or shoulder. 

 

Trust me when I tell you that it's not even close.  What you "anchor'' when putting side saddle is the elbow of the top arm, and that is perfectly legal under the anchoring rule.  The top hand is no where close to being anchored, I assure you.

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16 minutes ago, bluedot said:

 

It's actually far more that "one dude".  You can go back to Snead, who won 4 times on Tour putting side saddle with an old Bullseye, you can add KJ Choi, who putted side saddle on Tour for a little while, including in the British Open, Grant Waite, who has putted this way on the Champions Tour a bit, and Randy Haag, who has been one of the better senior amateurs in the world for many, many years and the club champion at Olympic Club many times over.  You can add Dechambeau, who putted side saddle for a lot of his amateur career and then did it on Tour until the USGA correctly ruled that his putter was non-conforming.  And that's just at the highest levels of the game; I play a lot of state and local tournament golf, and I think you'd be surprised at how frequently I run across guys who putt side saddle.

 

Perhaps more to the point, anybody who uses the broomstick (Langer, Singh, Scott, McCarron, et al) is more than halfway there; they are putting with one hand and using the other as a fulcrum.  For reasons of their own, they have chosen not to face the hole, but I don't think that's really particularly surprising, given three factors.  One, they've been standing parallel to the line of play for their entire lives.  Two, the stroke they are using gets rid of most of the biggest problems that conventional putting involves, notably finding ways to quiet the hands and wrists and staying still.  And third, they are playing for big money, and they just don't have time to burn learning a new technique, especially when the one they are using has gotten rid of the problems they had with conventional putting.

 

And I'll add one more thing: EVERYTHING you see, even on Tour, that isn't pure "conventional" putting, from the claw to the saw to left hand low to arm lock to the broomstick and the belly putter before the anchoring ban, is an attempt to make the putting stroke more one handed and to get rid of the issue of making a relatively delicate motion with two hands.  The ONLY difference between all of that and side saddle is the decision to face the hole and continue to use binocular vision while putting instead of just to line the putt up. 

 

All of this stuff about what the Tour pros do and do not do reminds me of the story Harvey Penick tells in the The Little Red book about grip pressure; he's trying to get a student to lighten his grip pressure, and the student says, "But Arnold Palmer holds the club tightly."  To which Penick replies, "Yes, and you aren't Arnold Palmer."  There is a TON of stuff that I see Tour pros do successfully that I can't do; I can't hit the hop and stop chip shot from just off the green with a lofted wedge.  I can't hit it 300+ off the tee anytime I need to.  I can't hit a 3W off the ground consistently.  I'm not very good at flop shots.  I don't think it's especially surprising, or instructive, that you don't see Tour pros converting to side saddle, either.  That has little, if anything, to do with me, my equipment, or how I play the game.

It is not just about what pros do. Although the they tend to tack to the most efficient methods which is a good indication of what does work. You can look at the LPGA, or even top AMs. you wont see it anywhere.. Even at your local club.. No one is doing it.. 

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4 minutes ago, QuigleyDU said:

It is not just about what pros do. Although the they tend to tack to the most efficient methods which is a good indication of what does work. You can look at the LPGA, or even top AMs. you wont see it anywhere.. Even at your local club.. No one is doing it.. 

 

You're wrong, but that's ok. 

 

(And I'm glad you mentioned the LPGA; I forgot about Natalie Gulbis and the Hammy putter, which coincided with the best golf of her career.)

Edited by bluedot
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We have two modern examples of "golf labs" that purport to study everything about every type of shot in order to find the most efficient way of approaching the game. 

 

The first is in South Korea where a concerted effort started years back to train young golfers. The dominance of Korean players on the LPGA is a direct result of this effort. The coaches there are surely studying every possible method of playing the game. Yet all of the players are putting conventionally. 

 

Second, you've got the DeChambeau thing. He says he's testing everything constantly to try to become more consistent. After trying every method he has stuck with a very upright version of the armlock stroke. 

 

You could also include the handful of PGA Tour players who were hit hardest by the ban on anchoring. Most have adapted to armlock putting, and many aren't putting nearly as well as they were with the belly or anchored long putters. 

 

I'm not saying there can't be evidence that it might work better for some players. I'm saying that there have been ample opportunities for it to have snuck into the game and yet it has not. It's not unreasonable to wonder why that is the case. 

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1 hour ago, bluedot said:

 

You're wrong, but that's ok. 

 

(And I'm glad you mentioned the LPGA; I forgot about Natalie Gulbis and the Hammy putter, which coincided with the best golf of her career.)

What am I wrong about? As I have said, anecdotally it has worked. Bryson even tried it till his putter was deemed none conforming. 

 

I know it has been done and done well. But if it was the obvious best way to putt. Everyone would do it.. 

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47 minutes ago, QuigleyDU said:

What am I wrong about? As I have said, anecdotally it has worked. Bryson even tried it till his putter was deemed none conforming. 

 

I know it has been done and done well. But if it was the obvious best way to putt. Everyone would do it.. 

 

You said "one dude"; that's what you were wrong about, and backpedaling doesn't change that.  And to be correct, Dechambeau wasn't "trying it"; he had putted that way quite a bit as an amateur.

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1 minute ago, bluedot said:

 

You said "one dude"; that's what you were wrong about, and backpedaling doesn't change that.  And to be correct, Dechambeau wasn't "trying it"; he had putted that way quite a bit as an amateur.

The "one dude" comment was in regards to an article posted. It was directed to that article only.. 

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4 minutes ago, iSwing said:

 

Plus saddle is the epitome of a trail hand push stroke, palm under, which finds a later roll.  Quick top spinning, palm over,  with a stick is much easier, finds top spin roll right now, not later.     

 

This is 100% incorrect. 

 

Most side saddle putters use a pencil grip with their right hand, and it is not one bit different than the same grip on a conventional putter.  Others, like myself, have the palm behind the shaft of the putter with the shaft running down the lifelines of the palm and across the base of the fingers, usually with the index finger extended down the shaft; again, it is no different than grips used by conventional putters. 

 

The difference is in the other hand, which, as with the broomstick, is a fulcrum rather than part of the stroke.

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7 minutes ago, bluedot said:

 

This is 100% incorrect. 

 

Most side saddle putters use a pencil grip with their right hand, and it is not one bit different than the same grip on a conventional putter.  Others, like myself, have the palm behind the shaft of the putter with the shaft running down the lifelines of the palm and across the base of the fingers, usually with the index finger extended down the shaft; again, it is no different than grips used by conventional putters. 

 

The difference is in the other hand, which, as with the broomstick, is a fulcrum rather than part of the stroke.

I am curious why you are defending this method so hard? If you like it cool but why? Honest question.  Thanks. 

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1 hour ago, QuigleyDU said:

I am curious why you are defending this method so hard? If you like it cool but why? Honest question.  Thanks. 

It is a bit odd. I would be totally fine with a simple  "I putt better with this method", but the far reaching reasons as to why it's technically superior just don't align with what you see the best players in the world doing. A handful of people who have used it in the past is not at all validation for the claims they are using to support it. 

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59 minutes ago, Krt22 said:

It is a bit odd. I would be totally fine with a simple  "I putt better with this method", but the far reaching reasons as to why it's technically superior just don't align with what you see the best players in the world doing. A handful of people who have used it in the past is not at all validation for the claims they are using to support it. 

Agreed, If you like it great! if you play better that way, awesome! But I have yet to see anything that I look at and say "yep, that is evidence it is the best". I don't think you can find it.

 

It would be like looking at Moe Norman and saying we all need to copy his swing because he was the best ball striker ever. Well he may have been but it is not evidence. 

 

 

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On 5/8/2021 at 6:00 AM, BigEx44 said:

 

Most side saddle putters have a very erect stance (I'm 6'0 and my putter length is 47 inches) - usually more erect than most traditional putters - so your point about easier on the back is generally a point FOR sidesaddle putting, not against it.  Not sure what your looking at when you say it looks twisted and painful.

 

My bad I thought the shoulders were not parallel to the hips and were twisted...... but I do not like how the guy in the above video Jimmy da Machine looks bent over forward lol.... can you do that for an hour without back pain..... its why I like my 41" putter putting traditional style like Rickie or Raymond Floyd.

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7 hours ago, QuigleyDU said:

I am curious why you are defending this method so hard? If you like it cool but why? Honest question.  Thanks. 

 

With all due respect, you've got it backwards.  The OP asked a question, and most of the critical responses were utter nonsense, likely from people who have never made any serious study of the subject.  All I have done throughout the thread is repeat the advantages; read back over the thread if you doubt this.

 

I, along with several others, have listed the advantages of facing the hole, using binocular vision, and rolling the ball with one hand; reread the responses to those.  The most common "criticism" of side saddle putting isn't about side saddle putting at all; it's about what Tour pros do.  On top of that, it is factually incorrect that "only one dude" (referring to the Pelz story) is evidence for the method.  There have been several people to putt this way on Tour, and if you accept the premise that essentially every grip modification, as well as the broomstick (and the belly when it was legal) are attempts to do essentially the same thing, namely to take hand and wrist action out of the stroke, then the numbers look much different.  It would be interesting right now to get a count of how many Tour pros are putting with a straight conventional grip vs some alteration to try to quiet their hands and wrists.  

 

I'd recommend Randy Haag's blog to you; he has a piece in there from around the time that the anchoring ban was going into effect about why he didn't think you'd see side saddle on Tour any time soon, and he was right.  But it isn't about the efficacy of the method; it's about other things.  The major one for pros is the adjustment period; an amateur might get better almost immediately, but it would take a Tour pro the better part of a year to make the change, and they just can't afford do that.  I know for a fact that Juan Elizondo has been trying to get Vijay Singh to convert to side saddle for years, and Singh just can't pull the trigger.  For amateurs, the biggest issue is the reaction of others; you truly have to not care how others react, but only care how you putt, and most people just can't do that.  I can, but I've been thru some stuff in my life that makes me more or less immune to how golfers react; I don't much care what anybody thinks.

 

I've said this several times, but I am in NO way evangelical about side saddle putting; anybody that tries it has to commit to some serious work, and also be ready for some off-the-wall reactions from other golfers, though never from good ones.  If you could talk to my regular group at my club, or with the guys I play tournaments with, they'd tell you that I've never once even suggested that any of them convert.  But I don't see any reason to let somebody who is interested read some of the tripe that has been written on this thread without presenting factual information about the method.  Everything I've said has been said better by others with more credentials anyway, guys like Pelz, Johnny Miller, Randy Haag, Brian Manzella, and others. 

 

Side saddle putting is about looking straight down the intended line of the putt using binocular vision, and rolling the ball with one hand with an arm swing utilizing the way your arm attaches to your shoulder; nothing more.  And that's EXACTLY the way that you'd roll a ball without a club in your hand.  That those things strike some as odd or ridiculous is "interesting" at best.

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3 hours ago, bluedot said:

 

 

I, along with several others, have listed the advantages of facing the hole, using binocular vision, and rolling the ball with one hand; reread the responses to those. 

These are all highly subjective "advantages" as are most of the others mentioned. It is not an automatically squaring method, it is not a true SBST method, and even if it was that isn't a proven advantage. No one has posted any compelling data-driven arguments that shows it has any real advantage over a traditional stroke. 

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There is also no data-driven evidence that conventional putting is the best way to do it .....

 

Which leads me to wonder where the conventional style came from in the first place - who invented it and why ! Did one of those Scottish shepherds say to himself " I have to hit this ball into that tiny hole with this stick - so I'll turn sideways to my target so I can't see it at all and use both hands to strike it "....

 

I would love golf historians to chime in on this. All the historic pictures I've seen suggest that the older players used a very open stance so maybe they putted that way too ???

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Krt22 said:

It is a bit odd. I would be totally fine with a simple  "I putt better with this method", but the far reaching reasons as to why it's technically superior just don't align with what you see the best players in the world doing. A handful of people who have used it in the past is not at all validation for the claims they are using to support it. 

 

This is a fair point.

Maybe the better question would have been "Why aren't more people putting sidesaddle?"

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4 hours ago, davidy1948 said:

There is also no data-driven evidence that conventional putting is the best way to do it .....

 

Which leads me to wonder where the conventional style came from in the first place - who invented it and why ! Did one of those Scottish shepherds say to himself " I have to hit this ball into that tiny hole with this stick - so I'll turn sideways to my target so I can't see it at all and use both hands to strike it "....

 

I would love golf historians to chime in on this. All the historic pictures I've seen suggest that the older players used a very open stance so maybe they putted that way too ???

 

 

 

 

Relative to where the traditional putting stroke came from....

I'd bet it had a least a little something to do with how slow greens were in the early days (to me they look like today's fairways)

Those greens WOULD require some power and "ooomph" to get the ball to the hole making a traditional putting stroke very advantageous.

It's also why back then, I believe putter heads had some serious loft built in.

 

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16 hours ago, Krt22 said:

These are all highly subjective "advantages" as are most of the others mentioned. It is not an automatically squaring method, it is not a true SBST method, and even if it was that isn't a proven advantage. No one has posted any compelling data-driven arguments that shows it has any real advantage over a traditional stroke. 

 

You're right of course.  For that matter, I've never read any "compelling data-driven arguments" that it's better to face the basket and shoot free throws with one hand instead of standing parallel and throwing the ball across your body with two hands.  And yet...

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I would love to try side saddle putting!  I'm a self taught par golfer that uses all kinds of unconventional methods.... don't believe in being a sheep!  You gotta find out for yourself if there is merit to a technique and give it a fair shake and I really believe a HUGE % ,meaning most people, just use techniques that are "normal" cause maybe 99% of the pros do it or whatever reasons and most people DO NOT have an experimental attitude in life about finding things out for themselves and are sheep... bah bah

 

I love using 1 hand only techniques with putting and chipping.... the left hand is on the grip but is 100% docile and the right hand is completely in control, left hand steadies the club.  I only use those techniques in certain situations tho.... the right hand alone has waaaay better feel when it is operating alone, specially if you got good hands.  Think darts etc... or even rolling a golf ball with your hand.

 

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One of the best senior amateurs in the country, Randy Haag, is a side-saddle putter. I gave it a whirl for a while. It works. Randy has won well over 100 mid and high level am events over the years.

 

 

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There was a guy at my old club with tour-tough greens. He was a gutsy 7 or 8. Putted side-saddle, and putted as well as most of the pros we played with on the regular.

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On 5/2/2021 at 2:13 PM, bluedot said:

As I said, a lot of players just freak out when they see somebody putting side saddle.  I have my own theories about why that is, but that's another story.  Several thoughts:

 

1. Experimenting with different grips isn't a way of preventing "rotation"; it's trying to take the issue of coordinating two hands into a relatively delicate, precise motion.  In that regard, conventional putting is the worst biomechanical position in all of sports for the motion being attempted.  Standing parallel to the line of play and using two hands is ALWAYS used to create power thru turn and weight shift and torque; it's a position meant for power, and putting is the opposite of that.  Think about a batter in baseball who gets the bunt sign; what does he do?  He squares up (binocular vision), slides his top hand up the bat and uses the bottom hand for a fulcrum.  In other words, he bunts essentially one handed.  Free throw shooters, bowlers, tossing a wad of paper into a trash can, throwing darts; all of those are done the same way.  Everything else in sports that is meant to be precise is done with one hand facing the line of play.

 

2. It's possible that you'll never see a Tour pro putting side saddle; if you do, it will be somebody who did it as a kid. (You might remember that Dechambeau did it on Tour briefly several years ago until the USGA ruled his putter to be nonconforming, and he had putted that way quite a bit as an amateur.) Those guys just can't afford to take a year to learn a new method, and it would take a year for them to get back to the same level.  But how long it takes amateurs is another story entirely; I've seen guys be better the first day IF they are battling a bad case of the yips because there just isn't much way to yip with one hand and facing the hole, I promise. 

 

3. Make no mistake about it, the guys putting with the broomstick are doing the same thing the side saddle guys are, EXCEPT they aren't using binocular vision, which is odd, to say the least.  Singh, Scott, Langer, McCarron, et al, are absolutely, 100% putting one-handed the the top hand as a fulcrum; don't be fooled by the fact that they are not facing the hole.

 

4. Before any of you tell me where I'm wrong, think about this for just a moment.  I putted conventionally for FIFTY YEARS, and putted will enough to win club championships.  I switched when I was 62 years old, and I was still a low single digit index without the yips.  I just wanted to see if I could make more putts and three putt less, and I do both of those; it took me a month (with a LOT of very intentional practice) to be as good as I had been conventionally, and in three months, I was a better putter than I had EVER been conventionally.  I know a LOT about putting conventionally, and unless you've putted a LOT side saddle, you don't have much to tell me about either method.  That's not meant to sound egotistical; it's just a fact.

 

Do you know of Randy Haag? He turned to side-saddle to battle the yips. Still gets them even putting side-saddle now, though....

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1 hour ago, Obee said:

 

Do you know of Randy Haag? He turned to side-saddle to battle the yips. Still gets them even putting side-saddle now, though....

 

Yes.  Definitely know him.

I followed his blog for quite a while while I was still perfecting my sidesaddle stroke.

I still remember the first WSJ article that highlighted his different way of putting.

Cool.

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4 hours ago, bluedot said:

 

You're right of course.  For that matter, I've never read any "compelling data-driven arguments" that it's better to face the basket and shoot free throws with one hand instead of standing parallel and throwing the ball across your body with two hands.  And yet...

Let's not use hyperbole, you don't shoot free throws with with a club that has both loft and lie. Golf is and always has been a side on hitting sport, the equipment largely dictates how we setup. If a croquet mallet was legal to use there might be some validity to some of these "advantages", but alas that is simply not the case. There is nothing wrong with saying "this is a unique method that works best for me", no need to fluff up some subjective advantages to convince yourself and others that it's something more than that.

 

Putting is one of the few areas of golf where a multitude of methods can be proficient, but as long as you don't have the yips or some physical disability, there is no reason why any given handicap can't be a good putter with a traditional stroke. Most bad putters have bad strokes, if going to an alternate style of putter is easier than simply learning a solid stroke, then so be it, more power to them. That doesn't make the alternate style universally superior, which is essentially what the OP is claiming.

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9 hours ago, Barfolomew said:

I would love to try side saddle putting!  I'm a self taught par golfer that uses all kinds of unconventional methods.... don't believe in being a sheep!  You gotta find out for yourself if there is merit to a technique and give it a fair shake and I really believe a HUGE % ,meaning most people, just use techniques that are "normal" cause maybe 99% of the pros do it or whatever reasons and most people DO NOT have an experimental attitude in life about finding things out for themselves and are sheep... bah bah

 

I love using 1 hand only techniques with putting and chipping.... the left hand is on the grip but is 100% docile and the right hand is completely in control, left hand steadies the club.  I only use those techniques in certain situations tho.... the right hand alone has waaaay better feel when it is operating alone, specially if you got good hands.  Think darts etc... or even rolling a golf ball with your hand.

 

Ten of the Funniest Images of Sheep You Will Ever See

 

Love this so much - from a fellow disruptor ! When I started this topic I deliberately chose a challenging title to stir the pot and elicit responses, and they have been very enlightening. As a former lawyer I have to say, reading all the contributions to date, if I was presenting this as a case in court so far the defences for conventional putting have been pretty unconvincing....

 

9 hours ago, Barfolomew said:

 

 

 

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