Putter Owners Manual: Designed by Arnold Palmer

by | Apr 2, 2019 | Instruction | 0 comments

As a young golf professional, I had the privilege of working for Arnold Palmer. First at the Bay Hill Club and Resort, and then for 10 years at the Latrobe Country Club. Mondays at Latrobe was always practice day for Mr. Palmer, and each session would always end with a trial of each of the putters he brought with him from the workshop. It was always fascinating to watch him work through the day’s selection of putters. Each putter was different, and what was so intriguing was that his stroke, setup, even tempo, would change with each putter. When I asked him why, he was very matter of fact. Each putter has a different feel while in motion and therefore requires a different stroke. Subtle changes to be sure, but after watching thousands of strokes, it was very noticeable.

Those days have stuck with me through the years and has created a huge “what if” in my thinking as I have continued to study the art. What if every putter came with an owner’s manual? I don’t believe it is effective to think that you can use any putter with any stroke strategy. Can you? Maybe. Any human is certainly strong enough to overcome a putters influence. But while you are overcoming that influence how well can you judge the speed? We have enough data now in the Burnt Edge system to understand how to help match putters to posture, alignment and movement pattern and make your putting stroke a more subconscious effort.

So in honor of Mr. Palmer, to introduce the owner’s manual concept, I will start with our favorite type of putter, the heel shafted blade. AP enjoyed most of his success in the late 50’s and 60’s with a heel shafted blade that evolved over time. Starting with a Wilson flanged blade, then some help from a Tommy Armour Iron Master and finally with a great deal of welding and grinding, the final result was presented to the public as the Wilson Designed by Arnold Palmer. Over the years there have been a number of versions produced, similar to the “Designed by”. As you might imagine, one I am very fond of is the Toulon Garage – Latrobe model. Toulon Putters It is a versatile combination of old school design and modern technology.

The basic design of this putter is for the toe to have more freedom of movement than the heel and we see the most successful results using this putter when you allow for this freedom. The most common patterns of success are found in our Profiles 1,4 and 7. Profile 1 is the stroke pattern most similar to Mr. Palmer, while Profile 7 is very similar to what we see in Ben Crenshaw’s stroke, another famous user of the this blade style and the most common Profile we see associated with this putter.
As you can see in all three Profiles there is a definite tilt of the stroke plane to the right. Inside – down the line is the common description. But what I would suggest is that it is merely a continuous movement on an arc plane tilted to the right, rather than a two part stroke that requires a re-route of the putter to the finish. The other common feature of players who use this style of putter is a combination of a square to closed shoulder alignment and/or a dominant trail hand to finish the stroke. In addition, we almost always see the ball forward in the stance when using these techniques. While release is the common term used to describe the movement, it is really more accurate to explain it as to not block or slow the rotation. The tilt of the plane to the right allows the rotation to continue with less fear of a left miss. In each example the putter is square to the target line at impact, but slightly closed to the arc plane.
Whenever I suggest this putter, I often hear, “I am not good enough to use this style of putter or I need something more forgiving.” My return is that it is not that you can’t use it, you just don’t know how. This is the ultimate feel putter and the positive feedback on the good strokes will help you find the sweet-spot more often. Besides, nothing swings easier than a heel shafted blade or rolls the ball as nicely. With a little practice, using your appropriate stroke Profile you might be very surprised at the results.

Discuss this article in the Putter Talk Community