The Putter Cover

December 4, 2008

April 1997

One of the things that always amazed me about professional golfers is how precise their feel and vision is when executing a shot.  A lot of that ability comes from the tremendous amount of practice they dedicate themselves to, but clearly an “it” factor exists in the special ones.  I always felt my boss, Chris Perry, had a special gift.

This feeling was once again proven correct in my mind during the PGA TOUR event in late April 1997 at Forest Oaks CC in Greensboro, NC.  You might think this is going to be a story about a successful week of work, or a thrilling finish late on Sunday, but Chris didn’t even make the cut.

So why was this week such a telling testament to my player’s abilities?  Let me tell you…

We started Thursday’s opening round in the afternoon wave.  If you are not familiar with tournament golf, the field of 144 players are separated into two groups of 72 and sent off the first and tenth tees in threesomes, each group having a morning time one day and an afternoon time on the other.  This is done as a way of making sure every player receives the same opportunity to succeed under similar conditions.  After the second round, the field is reduced to the top 70 scores and ties.  This is called the cut.  These players earn the right to play for two more days and earn a check, while the others earn nothing, pack up and move on to the next stop.

So, we teed off the first hole that Thursday afternoon in windy and difficult conditions (it had been relatively calm in the morning leading to some low scores), started with a bogey and eventually posted a disappointing 4-over 76.  Not the way to start a tournament or gain confidence.

Chris was pretty fiesty most of the day and it showed on the seventh hole.

Lucky number seven at Forest Oaks is a short dogleg left par four that requires a precise, but not long tee ball, fit between a small lake running up the left side and a shallow bunker and trees guarding wayward shots to the right.  Some players would try to overpower the hole by hitting a driver, but the smart play was an iron or fairway wood to the fattest part of the fairway underneath the right bunker.  You would be left with no more than an eight or nine-iron shot to the small sloped green.

That is just what Chris did that day.  He smoothed a beautiful three-iron to the middle of the fairway and was left with 142 to the hole, a perfect nine-iron number.

One of our playing partners didn’t fare as well.  He blocked his tee ball into the right bunker and faced a difficult shot to the green.  On the PGA TOUR, when a player gets into trouble in a bunker, a caddie from another player will rake the sand for them if his player is in good shape.  This helps speed up play.

I was preparing to do just that by removing the cover from CP’s putter, so I could hand it to him quickly and attend to the bunker raking.  Chris heard me peel the velcro fastener apart and I saw his ears perk up.

“What are you doing?”  He asked.

“I’m pulling your putter cover off so I can help them with the bunker after you hit.”  I replied.

He paused for a few seconds, and I thought my explanation was satisfactory.  He wasn’t done though.

“How do you know I’m going to need my putter?  I’ve got a perfect number to the hole.  I’m not going to need it.”  He appeared to be getting a little edgy at this point.  Uh oh.  Say something soothing, I thought.

“Sounds good to me.” was all I could muster.

“No really. Put the cover back on my putter right now.  I thought you believed in my game.”

Great.  Now I was really scrambling to understand why he was geting so worked up about the stupid putter cover.  I’ve done this a hundred times before and he never said a thing.  I wasn’t sure what in the world to say to head off this train.  So, believing less is sometimes more, I simply said, “Okay.” and resheathed the putter and put it back in the bag.

After an indignant glare or two at me just to make sure I really knew how he felt, he seemed satisfied and returned to the shot at hand.

“142 yards, right?”  He asked.


“Watch this.”  Chris put his sweet swing on display and sent the ball on its way.

It never left the flag.

The ball landed a foot from the hole, popped in the air and stopped dead one inch from the cup for a tap-in.

He shot me a look and said,

“Don’t ever take the putter cover off my putter again until you are sure I’ll need it.”

And with that, he strolled to the green with his nine-iron in hand to make his birdie.

Never again did I early-pull the putter cover.


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