“It’s the Indian, not the arrow.”
I’ve delivered that line with a sheepish grin and a touch of hypocrisy many times. Usually it’s during the ritual 19th-Hole debrief on the heels of yet another round foiled by burned edges, momentum-killing three-putts and 15-footers left two or three rolls short, right in the heart.
Once home from another of these debacles, I’d go back to my office closet full of putters that look different and feel different but end up letting me down in the same way, and select another heartbreaker.
Perhaps more than any other part of the game, putting seems to be the platform for golfers’ most brutal self-deprecation. I’m suspicious that many golfers actually subconsciously want to putt poorly in order to have something to crow about. Drive for show, putt for “D’oh!” – something like that.
I have never been a very good putter. Heck, I've never even been a decent one. "Streaky at best" has been my motto on the greens. I've had my good days inside eight feet, but there have been countless rounds made mediocre by too many misses from six to 12 feet, plus the odd mental-lapse blown three-footer.
But I’ve found hope. After a couple years in which I scarcely went three rounds without switching flatsticks – an old PING O-Blade, an Odyssey 2Ball, a Cleveland Huntington Beach, even an Acushnet Bullseye (Corey Pavin, I don’t know how you do it) – I’ve putted the last three months with the same putter, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I haven’t even been tempted to touch one of my dozen and a half rejects, lest their bad energy seep back into my hands and transfer to my new best friend on the greens.
You’re probably familiar with the New Putter Feeling: the giddy Christmas-morning excitement to clamber up onto the green and send your ball to the cup. And you’re probably equally familiar with the End-of-Putter-Honeymoon Feeling: the depressing sensation that the magic is gone, and that what once felt like a beautiful partnership is now just another horseshoed three-footer waiting to happen.
For me, the honeymoon is still on. And I think I know why: my new putter is the first I’ve ever owned that was fitted to me. When I visited True Spec Golf’s Miami location in March, fitter Andy Victoriano recommended an Evnroll ER5 with a 370-gram total head weight, 34 inches in length, with a 69.5-degree lie angle.
I hemmed and hawed throughout the spring and half of the summer before I had finally had it with the uncomfortable feeling of swinging a putter without being entirely sure whether a miss was my fault or the putter’s (or, most likely, both). In the 33 rounds since I bought my Evnroll and took delivery in early August, I’ve had 15 rounds with fewer than 30 putts. In my previous 70 rounds in 2018, I had just 18 rounds with fewer than 30 putts. Yes, putts-per-round can be a misleading statistic, but given that all my other metrics have been pretty flat over the year, I can confidently point to the putter as a key source of improvement.
The value of having a custom-fitted putter lies in the putts I’ve been making, but the ones I’ve been missing. My made-a-great-stroke-but-missed-another-shorty percentage is way down since I’ve had my new putter. Historically, I’ve had a comically bad time hitting putts flush. More often than not, I miss towards the toe, which traditionally sends the ball short and toward the pull side of the hole. Evnroll’s graduated grooves, patented by company head Guerin Rife, solve for my inconstant contact by angling mishits more toward my intended line, and with a bit more pop.
Long story short: when I miss the sweet spot with my new putter, the ball stays on line and still finds the cup more often than with anything I’ve ever putted with. And because the lie angle is just so, the putter sits flush on the ground when I hold the club naturally.
My recent experience has made me regard putters like people regard suits: several brands are good, but having it tailored is essential to truly looking good in it. When I miss an easy putt, I have 100% confidence that the fault lies, indeed, with the Indian. And to me, that’s worth every cent I paid for the arrow.