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August 24, 2009

The Most Important Golf Club in Your Bag

Posted at 5:01 PM by David Dusek | Categories: Drivers, Hybrid Clubs, Putters, Top 100 Teachers, Wedges

During the PGA Championship, I wrote about the new Nike Method family of putters and the new Scotty Cameron California line of putters. Several readers wrote that $250 or $300 is too much money for a putter. Others pointed out that during a typical round, an amateur player might use his or her putter 28-35 times per round.

I e-mailed several GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teachers and asked them the following question: What is the most important/valuable club in a weekend player’s bag? 

Here's what they wrote:

Brian_mogg_74x106Brian Mogg, coach of Y.E. Yang and director of the Brian Mogg Performance Center at Golden Bear Golf Club at Keene's Point in Windermere, Fla.
The putter is the most important/valuable club in the bag. However, the actual cost to the manufacturer to build a putter is much less than a large-headed driver with a graphite shaft. Your putter is vital and important and worth every penny if it works, but proportional to what it costs to make it should also be looked at.  This is why $250 seems high-priced for a putter.

Mike_bender_74x106 Mike Bender, coach of Zach Johnson and master instructor at the Mike Bender Golf Academy at Timacuan Golf Club in Lake Mary, Fla.
Without a doubt, the most important club in the bag is the driver.  Have you ever heard of a golfer incurring a penalty on a putter? If the average amateur golfer hit to his typical distance, but you put him in the middle of every fairway, he'd better his handicap by a mile.

When I was playing the PGA Tour, officials had just started to keep detailed stats, and the No. 1 putter was Morris Hatalsky. For being the best putter, he was nowhere near the top of the money list. But guys like Greg Norman, Tom Kite, Bruce Litsky, Nick Faldo, and Mark O'Meara were, and none of them could be considered great putter like Ben Crenshaw, Lorin Roberts and Brad Faxon.

The saying should be putt for show and drive for dough.

JohnElliottJr_66x80 John Elliot, director of golf instruction at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club in Ocala, Fla.
The question can be answered a couple of different ways depending on the word valuable. Valuable can mean most expensive, which would be your driver, or most valuable can mean the club that has the most influence on your score, which is your putter.


MikePerpich_66x80 Mike Perpich, River Pines Golf Club in Alpharetta, Ga.
"For the weekend golfer, the wedges are the most important clubs. The 52°, 56°, and 60°. Stats show that even the best putters in the world only make about 15% of their putts from 15 feet, so pitching and chipping the ball closer when you miss the green is a big deal. Since most club players are only going to hit four to six greens per round, pitching and chipping the ball well is absolutely critical."

Steve_boshdosh_74x106 Steve Bosdosh, The Members Club at Four Streams in Beallsville, Md.
A 24° hybrid is the answer for average golfers. They will putt about the same regardless of putter and slice drives with a $500 titanium driver or an old persimmon model. But get them to use a 24° hybrid in place of fairway woods and long irons and most golfers will get down the fairway faster and near the green in fewer strokes. All else being equal, that will help them shoot lower scores.

So as you can see, while no one disputes the importance of good putting, there is plenty of debate over which club is the most important in your bag, even among the experts. So what's your view? What is the single most important golf club to you? Write your answer in the comments area below.

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