Switch putting Test; Go for it

In 1983 I was a 5 handicap golfer with a major weakness in my putting game. I had revamped my swing to play a soft draw from tee to green and I was a hook putter in the tradition of Bobby Locke. I loved the hook putt, but I couldn’t figure out how to hook the slice putt. I struggled with the slice putt, that little slider that breaks away. The slice putt was the major putting weakness that cost me many extra strokes and considerable grief.

My left-handed friends loved the left to right put. The question was... could I putt left-handed? And could I putt both ways under the pressure of tournament golf? The answer was a resounding YES!!!  Once I became comfortable with the new grip, it was quite evident that my brand new left-handed stroke was much better than my old right-handed stroke. It was clear to me that I was already considerably better putting left-handed on the left to right putt. I had putted right-handed for my whole life and within minutes I was already better putting left-handed, especially on the shorter left to right putts. Even though I felt I would be better as a switch putter, I was hesitant to switch putt in a real tournament. My friend and future partner Brian Stack suggested a putting test to determine whether I should Switch Putt or not. It seemed like a reasonable solution to my dilemma, so I concurred.

 We met at the arranged time at the Glenbrook Golf Course putting green for my test. While I was practicing the downhill 20 foot left to right putt right-handed, Brian said “now try to make the putt.”  I had putted approximately 10 putts right-handed with my closest putt stopping one foot away. None of my other misses had any chance of going in the hole, and only 1 was close to a tap in. I told Brian that I had been trying to make all of my putts.

He laughed and said “why you don’t try left-handed, you couldn’t putt any worse.”

Putting Left-handed I made 4 of 10 and most of my misses were tap ins. Then I putted 10 more right-handed, finally making one, with most of my misses not even close to the hole. I proceeded to make 3 of 10 left-handed. When I putted left-handed the majority of my misses were much closer to the hole than the majority of my right-handed attempts. That was all I needed to convince myself that I was already better from the left side, and to just go for it. One month later, in my second tournament as a switch putter, I qualified to play in the U.S. Amateur Public Links in beautiful Hawaii. For the next 20 years {from age 38 to 58} I played from a -2 to a plus 2 handicap.

Switch putting has been a fun method of putting, and made my golf life infinitely more interesting, more enjoyable, and much more rewarding.   

 

Tim Holman

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