D.A. Points and the Magic Putter

D.A. Points, reached back in time to lead the Shell Houston Open by one shot after the first round. A 4-time winner on the Web.com Tour, Points is the guy who yucked his way to his first and only PGA Tour win with Bill Murray in the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

He knew it might be his day when he opened with five straight birdies and another on his 8th hole. He went another deeper on the 12th until he gave that back with a bogey on the 14th. But then he leaned into the finish with birdies on 16 and 17. 

His 8-under 64 — 9 birdies, 1 bogey — was all the more impressive because he did it with a blast from the past, his mom’s putter.

I pulled it out of my mom’s bag when I was probably 11, 12 years old. It’s an old, old Ping Anser. Not a Scottsdale like the famous, real expensive ones that you hear about. It’s a great putter, and as a matter of fact, I was using it, I won a couple State Ams with it in Illinois. When I turned pro, I was using it for awhile, then I put it away and then bring it back, and I actually sent it in to Ping, the Ping rep, Matt Rowlands and I are friends. I said, hey, can you kind of clean this up and maybe add a little weight to it, if possible.

And so they took it in and they kind of refurbished it and they put some tungsten weights in the toe and heel to give it some weight. It’s just a really good-looking putter, and I brought it with me this week because I just had been putting so bad, I thought maybe I’ll pull this old putter out of the garage and maybe it will have some magic in it. Sure enough, today it did.

Mom hasn’t asked for it back yet?

She might now. I’ve had it for a long time. I think she’s been praying so badly for me to make some putts, she’s probably happy for me to have it.

How old is the putter?

I mean, so when I was 11, we’re talking that’s ’87. So, it’s a mid ’80s Ping Anser putter. It’s funny, I was talking to my caddy about it today, like I have two gold-plated ones at home because in 2004, I was using that putter and I won twice on the Web.com Tour en route to finishing second on that money list, and it was probably my best year putting of my life. I think I finished in the Top-5 in putting on the Web.com.

What got you away from using it?

It wasn’t making putts.

And this is what begins the downward spiral for players with their putting. Assuming that the putter fit the player and wasn’t out of alignment — it had to be fine with its history — players begin to look at external reasons for their degrading performance rather than inside their own consciousness about their putting.

High putting consciousness comes from an accelerating putting stroke on the proper path — without thinking about it — with the mind totally invested in the line of the putt and the hole. The first gets it rolling in the right direction and the second determines the all-important speed of the putt.

Obviously doesn’t run hot all the time?

Doesn’t run hot all the time. It has a good track record. It’s one of those, when you put it in your hands, it just instantly the grip feels good. I looked at my caddy and I said, I know this grip is worn, but if you ever change it, I will fire you on the spot.
And he’s like, no problem, no problem.

It’s a nice putter. Like I said, I’ve had a lot of history with it.

When did you physically put it back in your bag, just this week?

Yeah, I left Tuesday night after Tavistock Cup, and I pulled four or five putters that I’ve used in my career. I had a couple other old Ping putters that I had used when I first turned pro and even in college that I just — they were all in racks in my garage. I just grabbed a couple of them and threw them in my bag. You never know. I — one of these might feel good.

I took a putting lesson Wednesday morning, yesterday morning.

I had this image in my mind of Points showing up at the airport with all these putters poking out of his bag and making it so heavy he had to pay overweight baggage fees.

It was the putting lesson that pulled this whole thing together. Through his friend, Chris Couch, he hooked up with Brian White, the golf coach at Lamar University. Lamar is just east of Houston on I10 in Beaumont, Texas.

He pointed out a couple things that I was doing wrong, and I thought it made some sense.

And he said, “You know, I really like how this other putter looks in your hands.”

I said, “All right.”

Greens are real, real fast, and this putter, even with the weights added to it, isn’t real heavy, so it’s nice on these greens that are so slick.

So that session led to some pretty interesting results in his 9-hole stint in the pro-am:

It’s one of those things, I felt pretty good about it yesterday. I holed some nice par putts yesterday. It was blowing pretty hard and wasn’t super easy. I didn’t hit it great, but I made a few good putts and the ball was going in the hole with nice pace and rolling real tight, and I thought, you know, all right, this might be the key that kind of gets me going.

And so now the really hard work begins, trying to replicate what he did in the first round without trying.

On the one hand, he’ll want to draw inspiration from the images of those nine birdies dropping into the holes. But then he’ll have to let go of them so that he can pay attention to today’s putts. Yesterday’s get tucked into that larger sense of himself as a putter and that’s what he carries forward into today.

Some call that confidence, but confidence always seems to be something outside of ourselves that circumstantially comes and goes, while having that larger sense of yourself is more about a state of being that is more enduring: “I’m a great putter.”

Confusion about those two things is generally why it’s harder to back up a really low round with another one.

Points will be on the afternoon broadcast; it will be interesting to see how he manages.

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