Will Zalatoris switches to broomstick-style putter ahead of Hero World Challenge
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Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic
NASSAU, Bahamas – Will Zalatoris returns to the PGA TOUR for his first start in seven months. And he does so with a new putter in the bag.
Zalatoris will play the Hero World Challenge with an L.A.B. Mezz.1 Max – the same broomstick-style putter popularized by Lucas Glover.
Zalatoris previously played a Scotty Cameron T-11 Proto. He switched to the broomstick putter while recovering from a microdiscectomy surgery in his back. He has missed the last seven months as he rehabbed the injury. His last start was the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March. He underwent surgery in April.
The switch to the L.A.B. putter was partly to alleviate pressure on his back – his posture is more upright using the broomstick. But it was mostly a switch to find improvement on the greens.
In Zalatoris’ time on TOUR, he has flashed elite ball-striking and driving ability, but putting has proved a consistent hindrance. He has ranked outside the top 100 in Strokes Gained: Putting in each of his first three seasons. Compare that to his ball-striking, where in which of his two full seasons (2021 and 2022) on TOUR he has ranked inside the top 10 in SG: Approach.
Zalatoris putting during Wednesday's pro-am at Albany Golf Course. (Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR)
“I ordered a couple arm locks [from L.A.B.], and they ended up sending me a couple of broomsticks and it took me probably three months before I was actually able to start practicing with it," Zalatoris said. "But immediately, I loved it.
“I can see the line so much better. It's just more comfortable too,” he continued. “I mean, I know I was a pretty streaky putter. I mean, I'd always be a zero-strokes-gained guy, but I'd blow a few short ones here and there. But so far so good.”
Zalatoris said it took him a few months to grasp exactly how to use the putter. He had toyed around with college teammates’ broomstick-style putters before but never put it in play himself. He said the putter helped remove some shoulder rotation from the stroke. Instead, it’s just a forward-back motion, which keeps him putting online more often.
“There are even times where maybe I misstruck one or feel like I barely pulled one or pushed one,” Zalatoris said. “And the misses are just so much better.”
Zalatoris plans to stay patient, a lesson he learned while away from golf. The putter has yet to see competition play. That’s what the next four days are for. Assess his putting and the rest of his game.
Will Zalatoris on his road to recovery before Hero
The switch will prove worthwhile if he can come anywhere close to replicating Lucas Glover’s success. Glover was known throughout his career as one of the TOUR’s pre-eminent ball-strikers, but a decade-long battle with the yips had hindered him. Glover switched to the broomstick-style L.A.B. Mezz.1 Max putter and it quelled his on-green frustrations. The switch led to one of the season’s best stories, with the 43-year-old winning the Wyndham Championship to get in the FedExCup Playoffs and following with a win in the first Playoffs event at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
“I needed a whole new idea,” Glover said of his mid-year putter switch. “A whole new brain function. The other one obviously wasn’t working. I’ve been struggling with short putts for so long. Just thought I needed to teach myself to do something else, and it’s been working. … Once you learn how to stand there and address it, it pretty much works itself. It’s been a nice change.”
Zalatoris seems to have gone through the same learning curve of addressing the putter. Now, it’s time to channel the same results.