Aaron Wise’s well-worn putter has a special U.S. Open connection
BROOKLINE, Mass. — Aaron Wise needed a spark. During his freshman season at the University of Oregon, nothing seemed to be clicking on the greens. Putts that normally went in were sliding by the hole. Rock-solid distance control wasn’t so solid.
Hoping to get Wise back on track, Casey Martin, the men’s golf coach at Oregon, offered up a solution: Use my putter.
“[Casey] let me have [his putter] and work with it,” Wise told GOLF.com. “I putted with it for probably two or three months back then, and then just hung onto it after that.”
The run with Martin’s putter lasted only a couple of months, but it was enough to get Wise going on the greens.
“He won with the putter in college,” said Wise’s putting instructor Stephen Sweeney. “We found it cleaned up his stroke, and he’s got good memories with it.”
When the good vibes eventually wore off, Wise returned to a conventional-length model, stuffed Martin’s old putter in the garage and kept moving.
Prior to taking the job at Oregon, Martin played alongside Tiger Woods at Stanford and enjoyed a successful amateur career before turning pro in 1995. Martin, presumably, had plenty of putter at home and wouldn’t miss the one he gave Wise. Only this wasn’t just any putter.
As Wise revealed on Tuesday at The Country Club, the putter has made an appearance at the U.S. Open before — in Martin’s bag.
“When he qualified for the U.S. Open, he used this putter,” Wise said. “I just took his gamer and never gave it back. But he’s OK with it. Hopefully, it gives me some good mojo this week.”
Before the putter made its way into Wise’s bag, Martin used it to qualify for his second U.S. Open, in 2012, at Olympic Club, giving it some extra magic for a tournament that requires absolute precision on the greens. Wise never expected to return to the putter after college, but when another rough patch came along, he pulled the Ghost Corza out of retirement.
Since Wise returned to Martin’s old putter during the 2021 Tour playoffs, he’s found something with the wand. Coming off a runner-up finish at the Memorial, Wise has now logged 10 top-25 finishes in 17 starts dating back to when the putter made a return to the bag.
“There’s something about the putter that helps free up my stroke,” Wise said. “It’s seen better days, but it works, and that’s all that really matters.”
Indeed, Wise’s putter looks like the prototypical battle-worn gamer with paint chipping all over the head and a solid wear mark in the dead-center of the face. The only modification Wise has made over the years was cutting the shaft down from 49 inches (original length) to 46 inches so he could float the long putter.
“I cut it down, so it’s not anchored, and have been loving it ever since,” he said.
At a course where the greens border on diabolical and particularly demanding, Wise is hoping the good vibes with coach’s putter continue this week.
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