To Putt or Chip

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Frank,
 
As a happy owner of one your putters, I know that you will be able to answer my question given your focus on putter design, fitting and coaching.
 
Do you think that Tom Watson made the right decision by using his putter from off the green at No. 18 in the final round of the Open Championship at Turnberry?
 
' Pete

 
Pete,
 
I am pleased you are enjoying your putter.
 
We need to congratulate Tom Watson on a superb showing at the Open Championship. I think he surprised and delighted millions of golfers around the world performing as well as he did, following on Greg Norman's good showing last year.
 
Before I answer your question, we should congratulate Stewart Cink on his victory. It was well-earned and I am sure we will see many more.
 
In retrospect, the 18th hole wound up deciding the championship, with Cink's birdie putt of 12 feet and Tom's attempt to putt his ball from just off the green in the light rough. It is very easy to critcize a choice of club after the tournament has been won or lost. I do believe, however, that from a technical point of view the selection of a putter when a tuft of grass intervenes between the clubface and the ball leaves too much to chance.
 
The sources of error are fairly significant. First, because there is 4 degrees or less loft on the putter, the grass is pushed ahead of the putterface, which is likely to not only deflect it offline but also change the ball speed off the face. A more lofted club would lift the grass and the ball, decreasing the sources of error and result in the ball ending up closer to the target. Even if the putt had landed close to the hole, I would still believe it would be a questionable choice of club.
 
I do believe that because Tom was putting so extraordinarily well that this influenced his decision. Putting from off the green in many cases is a recommended shot, especially for links golf where the fairways are hard and tightly mown.
 
Unfortunately for most of us, we do not truly recognize the importance of putting and are surprised to find that approximately 45 percent of our score is comprised on the green. That's why you need a good putter and a thorough understanding of the basic putting mechanics. Click here to request a free putting guide and we will e-mail it to you.
 
Frank
 
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Frank Thomas