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The Tour Report

October 5 2011

2:36 PM

Rocco Mediate, the long putter pioneer

By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM

In a wide-ranging pre-tournament interview Tuesday at the Frys.com Open more notable for his comments on Tiger Woods, Rocco Mediate also had some perspective on the long putter.

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Newkirk/Getty Images
Rocco Mediate, pictured at the 1993 PLAYERS Championship, was an early believer — and winner — with the long putter.

Some 20 years before today’s PGA TOUR long putter craze, there was a young Mediate, not with the yips exactly but just not putting as well as he wanted to.

“I remember Jim Ferree, who was one of my first teachers actually. I was at Long Cove in Hilton Head in 1990 … he goes, you gotta try this thing. I said all right, and I tried it. And I came out in '91 with it, and I know (Bruce) Lietzke used it then, but then I won and I had like six straight Top 10s or five straight Top 10s [actually, four in five weeks] and I won Doral.

“And I was the antichrist then in the putting world. And now look at it now. Yeah, I was the antichrist. People, I mean trust me, I had a lot of interesting comments about the putter, as you probably remember. So now, look at it now.”

Now, Mediate is going for what he calls a “triple crown” of putting mastery. He has won with a conventional-length putter (including last year’s Frys.com Open) and a long putter, and now he’s going to try to win with a belly putter. “Unprecedented,” he said.

BYRD’S DRIVER: Jonathan Byrd’s TaylorMade SuperFast 2.0 driver was a casualty of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup – it broke at the BMW Championship. He experimented to find a new one, and ended up putting an R11 in play at the JT Shriners.

NEW STUFF: Cleveland Golf debuted its 588 forged clubs in Las Vegas, with Jeff Overton becoming the first Cleveland staffer to use the 588 MB model. Seventeen new 588 forged wedges were in play (Woody Austin had four) and three new fairway wood “Mashies” were also used.

CALI CAMERONS: Scotty Cameron is releasing a refined look to its California putter line, featuring improved “visual flow.”

“My main objective for the new California designs was to take the visual flow to a new level,” Cameron said.

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Scotty Cameron California Sonoma
“When you look down at a great putter in the address position, it’s easy to imagine the putter head flowing naturally right into the ground. The refinements we made to these five new models meet and exceed that ideal. It might be a bit esoteric, but you get the sense that water won’t splash off these putters. It looks like water will just roll off the contours of the putters and shed gently off the edges.”

More than 30 refinements were made, including deeper milling in the putter’s face. That yields a softer sound at impact, said to be preferred by many good putters.

The model line is slightly changed, with the Monterey 1.5 model replacing the Coronado. The others – Del Mar, Fastback, Monterey and Sonoma – are mainstays in the California line.

BECK’S AID: Chip Beck, the second man to shoot 59 in a PGA TOUR event, has developed a grip training aid with his wife, Karen. Called “Grip Guides,” it features a heat-activated surface that gives feedback to whether or not you’re gripping the club correctly.

ROUGH TRIP: In case you missed it last week, Lee Janzen’s clubs took a beating on the way to Las Vegas. Wished we could have seen the two-time U.S. Open champion’s face when an airline representative suggested that he could get a rental set.