The latest equipment trend on the PGA Tour is hiding in plain sight
The last 18 months on the course have been anything but memorable for Cameron Champ. Entering this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson, the 3-time PGA Tour winner has missed the cut on 23 occasions in his last 34 starts, dating back to the 2021 Fortinet Championship. Along the way, Champ has battled a left wrist injury — it forced him to shut it down after one start during the fall portion of the 2021-22 season — and a balky putter that’s made things incredibly frustrating at times.
While the wrist has fully healed — Champ leads the Tour in driving distance (321.4 yards) and club head speed (126.37 mph) — the putter has continued to confound the 27-year-old. But there’s hope the flatstick could be turning a corner.
During the LPGA’s Chevron Championship, Champ, who currently resides in Houston, Texas, stopped by the Ping equipment truck to work with Tour rep Dylan Goodwin on a possible solution for his putter woes.
“He expressed some thoughts about trying a longer length putter and different grip,” said Goodwin. “We tried a wrist-lock grip and discussed the pros and cons of that one. But what really caught his eye was something else on the truck.”
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Along with housing a myriad of club heads and shafts, the Ping truck keeps several backup putters on hand for staffers, including Viktor Hovland.
Champ just happened to grab Hovland’s Ping PLD DS72 mallet and immediately picked up on something that “felt right.”
“He really liked the shape of Viktor’s grip and wanted to try it out,” Goodwin continued. “It wasn’t so much the feel of the grip that he liked but rather the length of the grip that made him feel it could be an option.”
At 36 inches, Hovland’s putter is slightly longer than “standard” length, which allows him to choke down on the grip 1.5 inches to achieve, in his eyes, a more stable feel when he strokes a putt. Champ started to pick up on the same feel as he worked with the putter on the practice green.
By the end of the session, Champ had an Anser “30” backup — the 30 denotes the degree of toe hang — built at 37 inches with Hovland’s 15-inch Winn grip to test at home.
“When [Cam] choked down on the grip a little bit, it gave him a counterbalanced feel,” Goodwin said. “He likes a heavy putter and always has, so a heavier grip and longer length worked. We also added lead tape to the bottom of the putter to get the swing weight up as well. It’s more stable in his hands. He’s pretty quick to decide if he likes a putter or not.”
In fact, Champ liked the backup putter so much, he had Hovland’s Winn grip added to his gamer as well at the Wells Fargo Championship. Goodwin also added an additional 7 grams of lead tape to the sole, moving the swingweight from F1 to G3.
Champ, who finished T8 recently at the Mexico Open, is the latest name to join a growing Tour trend that’s seen pros find the winner’s circle with longer length putters that allow them to choke down on the grip for added stability.
In addition to Hovland and Champ, Goodwin said Tony Finau (37 inches), Sahith Theegala (37 inches) and Stewart Cink (39 inches) are all currently employing a similar setup on the greens.
“I had a few guys the end of last season experiment with [the longer length] and it kind of stuck,” Goodwin said. “A few guys have since followed suit based off those guys’ feedback. It’s more seeing something from another player who’s having success and wanting to try it. Tony Finau, Viktor Hovland and Sahith Theegala are just a few of the guys who’ve putted well with a longer putter where they choke down.”
Outside of Champ, who prefers a heavier putter build, Goodwin said other pros have simply gone to a longer length grip and then moved their hands down the handle to achieve a counterbalanced feel.
“It’s a counterbalance idea without the excessive weight in the butt end of the club,” said Goodwin. “It’s getting that stability without feeling like you need to add a ton of weight. When you see guys like Tony and Viktor having success with it, it’s obvious to wonder if it could be right for your game as well.”
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