Arnold Palmer: "I'm against long putters"

Courses and Travel

'The King' on nerves, long putters and why Tiger will soon be back to his best

Closing out a tournament
This is an exceptional year as far as closing out tournaments. It’s never been easy to win on tour.

Sometimes it’s confidence in your game; sometimes it’s just a mental lapse. But something can always happen that will put you off track.

I’ve always contended you had to have a system; play your system and practise your system, whether you’re on the range or coming down the stretch needing a couple birdies to win.

There’s not anyone I have ever seen including Nelson, Hogan, Snead, Nicklaus, Player, that can say that they weren’t nervous and they didn’t feel the pressure.

My system dwelled on the basics such as the grip; I started out in a strong position then as the years went on to a weaker grip.

Talking equipment
I had a driver given to me by Ben Hogan. He gave me a number of drivers at Augusta way back in the early days of his golf clubs.

That driver is now at Cherry Hills in the clubhouse. I used it through most of the years in the 60s and had some of my best years and best driving with it.

I’m not a fan of long putters. I suppose if I were playing, and a long putter, being totally legal, would help my game, I might use it.

But I’m opposed to it personally. I just think there shouldn’t be a place in the game for anchoring a club against the body, which is what the long putter does.

So, technically, and principally, I am against it. But would I use it if it were going to enhance my game in the competition? I might.
Tiger is strong enough and smart enough to do the things he always did. It’s just a matter of getting it in the proper order. Getting the most from practice
I didn’t just go hit balls on the range and try to hit it down to different flags or whatever.

I think that that was something that I developed my system (see far left) to do.

One of the things that was very important was the fact that we used to have caddies pick up the shag balls.

In the older days, we had caddies with the bag out there and they picked up the balls. So we were hitting to a target all the time.

I had a caddie that caught the ball with a baseball glove all the time.

Gary Player used to tell the story, he says, “Arnie hits it so good, the caddie hits it here with the glove, here with the glove. Sometimes it hits him right on the head, and before he gets up, he hits him again.

Discussing putting
George Low used to watch me putt a lot. He never really gave me a lot of instruction. That was not the point.

The one thing George used to do was say, “Man, you’re the greatest putter in the world.” That was probably what I needed, somebody to give me confidence.

When I was starting to play, I was the first to use the reverse overlap. The other thing Low said to me one day was “When you’re a little nervous and you’re having a little trouble with your putting, just put your nail of your thumb on your left hand in the grip” and I tried it.

I had about a four-foot putt to win the Western Open, and I felt kind of shaky. I thought, well, what the hell, I’ll try that. I put that thumb up and took a few strokes and I walked over and knocked it in.

The future for Tiger
I haven’t been close to Tiger other than reading the papers. I have not talked to him in some time. I’m watching him swing and I see some moments of old Tiger that is very good.

He’s strong enough and smart enough to do the things he always did. It’s just a matter of getting it in the proper order.

I would say ‘look out’. (Four days later, Tiger won at Bay Hill by five shots)

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