Tiger Woods the golfer isn’t all that relatable; most of us are just trying to win a $5 Nassau, and he has 15 majors. But, Tiger Woods the golfer with a bad back, is a different story.
“It’s difficult for me to bend over at times, and so practicing putting, I don’t really spend the hours I used to,” Woods said on Thursday at the 2020 PGA Championship. “It wasn’t unusual for me to spend four, five, six hours putting, per day. I certainly can’t log that with my back being fused.”
Of course, most of us have never even tried practicing putting for 4+ hours in a day, but if you have a bad back as a golfer, surely you can understand his sentiment. As someone with one myself, I know I do.
To try and battle the pain and boost his practice session time on the greens, Woods took notes from the older generation and switched to a longer putter before this year’s first major.
“Most of the guys on the Champions Tour have gone to longer putters as they have gotten older, because it’s easier to not bend over,” Woods said. “This putter is a little bit longer, and I’ve been able to spend a little bit more time putting.”
To learn more about how a longer putter can help a bad back, I reached out to Mike Carroll, a strength and conditioning coach at Fit for Golf; he also currently works with four PGA Tour players. Carroll says a longer putter allows Tiger to “remain more upright with his trunk, which may result in less stress on his lower back.”
To understand the feel for this, Carroll says to imagine practicing with a child’s putter.
“When we bend over for prolonged periods our back gets tired and stiff,” Carroll said. “A longer putter means we’re not quite as bent over, so that might allow Tiger to practice for longer without getting as sore and stiff.”
If you’re interested in making a switch yourself and want to get a feel for what a longer putter is like, follow Tiger’s lead. He says that he often putts with his sand wedge, which is a slightly longer club than his putter, during practice sessions.
While you’re at it, test what it’s like to putt with irons that are even longer than your wedges, too. Tiger made only a minimal length increase with his new putter, but maybe you’re more comfortable and pain-free with something a few inches longer. If it eases some stress on your back and it feels playable, then maybe it’s time to swallow any youthful pride and switch into a longer putter.
For more on the latest equipment news, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below (it has a bonus interview with Ray Allen, too!).