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January 25 2012

8:41 PM

Hoffman’s ‘experiment’ is over

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Charley Hoffman was among those sporting a belly putter last week during the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.

But while he wouldn't say the experiment failed, Hoffman is going back to a traditional length this week at his hometown event, the Farmers Insurance Open.

Hoffman broke par in all three rounds in the desert last week but he missed the cut by a shot. His putting stats left something to be desired -- he used 92 over 54 holes -- but Hoffman said he was committed to giving the longer putter a try. 

"I'm not saying that it would never happen again, because I think there are some definite positives to it," he said.

Conventional wisdom has held that the longer putter is particularly useful on putts inside 10 feet because your stroke is locked. For Hoffman, though, the belly worked better on the longer putts because it took away his "feel" on the short ones.

"Inside 10 feet I struggled, I guess, because just we call it the art of putting, the feel, sort of how much to break and how much to hit it," Hoffman said. "When you set up to a belly putter, you're pretty much locked in the line that you're there. If you don't have much feel and you've got your line perfect, it's great. I guess it was an experiment. I guess I'm a guy that sort of gets over it and sort of feels the putt in the hole. That's how I make short putts.
   
"So the two together didn't work. Not saying that if I can find a way to sort of blend those together ... the belly putter I think is an advantage. You're going to set up the same every time. You're going to put the ball in the same position, and there are some definite positives to a belly putter. But for me as of right now, it's not a right fit."

Hoffman said he didn't have any problem going back to the short putter this week. He used it on a rainy Monday during the pro-am he held to raise money for his foundation and in his practice rounds. The transition was seamless.

"I can feel the line and see the line with the short putter, because it's just what I'm used to," Hoffman said. "It actually helped me. My rhythm on the longer ones is better with the shorter putter now. ... Actually, it worked the way we thought it was going to work. Initially it was going to be a project just to practice with and we liked it so much. …

“Saying for how poorly I putted and only missing the cut by a shot, gives the fact how actually good I hit it last week. So I'm pretty excited."

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