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Brent Kelley

Puttering Around: Choi Tries Quasi-Croquet Method; Tiger Switches Flatsticks

By July 13, 2010

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The most interesting news (to me, anyway) coming out St. Andrews today relates to putters: Tiger Woods has changed his for the British Open, and K.J. Choi has completely revamped his putting style into something that is croquet-like.

First, Tiger: Woods has for years used a Scotty Cameron putter; it's been the only Titleist club remaining in his bag in all these years since he signed with Nike Golf. For the British Open, however, Woods is going with the Nike Method putter. Woods says the reason is the slow greens of The Old Course. The Nike Method's groove technology, Woods says, sends the ball off the clubface faster, helping him with speed. (More on Tiger's putter switch.)

Much more interesting, and daring, is Choi's total revamping of his putting style. He actually instituted the change at last week's John Deere Classic, and is sticking with it at the British Open.

null As you can see in the photo, Choi is facing the cup in his new style. He stands next to the ball, facing forward, with his left hand gripping the top of the long putter shaft, and his right hand propelling the putter forward in the stroke. It's been described as something like a croquet swing, although Choi is not straddling the ball (which is against the rules when the ball is on the putting surface).

Sam Snead, who at one time or another in his career tried every putting method conceived of during his time, used a pure croquet method to win the 1967 Senior PGA Championship, but the USGA outlawed pure-croquet putting within a year. Choi is quite a tinkerer on the greens, too, and changes he's made in the past have carried influence with other pros. Choi was the first pro to popularize the ultra-fat putter grips a couple years ago.

Choi's new putter - called the "JuanPutt" after Juan Elizondo, who designed it specifically for Choi - has a triangular clubhead and weighs two pounds. The terms "face-on putting" and "one-arm lever putting" aren't used very often in golf, but when they are, they describe what Choi is trying. (More on Choi's putting experiment.)

Photo by Darren Carroll / Getty Images

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