Dave Pelz opens up about his cancer struggle with observations from TPC Sawgrass

March 15, 2019

On Tuesday before start of the Players Championship, I walked the back nine of TPC Sawgrass with my friend Patrick Reed, also known as Captain America. With his encouragement and intentionally slow pace, we made it back to the clubhouse.

It was just a walk in the park. But how great it was.

Then, on Wednesday, just a day before the first of the five most important tournaments in the world this year, I walked the front nine with two more friends, Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley. These guys are two of the best drivers of a golf ball you will ever see. And it felt great, truly great, just to walk around the front nine with them.

Let me explain.

I have spent the last four years in a somewhat serious battle with prostate cancer, and this was the first time I’ve been able to walk my 245-pound frame around each of those two-and-a-half mile, 9-hole routes. Not to worry, I’m cancer-free, but I’m also the weakest I’ve ever been in my adult life. The hormone therapy which the fabulous team at MD Anderson in Houston (and the incredible Dr. Buckholz) used to knock out my cancer also took most of my strength and muscle mass with it. The radiation was easy, the hormone therapy was really tough.

I’m cancer-free, but I'm also the weakest I’ve ever been in my adult life

But hey, I just walked nine holes two days in a row! I smelled some roses, laughed with friends, and had enough left to write this article. I want to tell you just how great that feels. And because my mind is never far from the putting green, as I ground-out those two walks in the park, I noticed another thing that’s great…something that may help your putting.

Keegan Bradley is addressing his putts with his mid-length putter grip touching against his lead arm (see Photo #1). And he’s finishing his putting stroke with the grip still there (Photo #2), allowing no relative motion between the two.

Photo credit: Eddie Pelz and Carl Mickelson
Photo credit: Eddie Pelz and Carl Mickelson

This arm/grip relationship keeps his putterface facing in the same direction as the back of his lead hand through impact. It helped improve his putting in 2018 and led to his first win in more than six years at the BMW Championship.

Look closely at Keegan’s left arm and putter grip in the third photo. Notice there is no sign of strain, tightness or tension.

I point this out for one simple reason: As you try putting this way, make sure to keep your hands relaxed and maintain the feel in your stroke motion. Position your putter’s grip against your lead forearm and keep it there; don’t try to “lock” it into your arm.

Keep your hands soft and your stroke smooth. Keegan and a number of other players have experienced success with the technique, like Matt Kuchar.

Now, let me leave you with my motivating thought for myself: After the great fun I had before the Players Championship, it’s back to the course this spring for Pelz. Slowly increasing workouts for strength and stamina. Lots of stretching to fight aging. Many wedge sessions in my backyard. And lots of putting — perhaps with an armlock grip. My stroll with Keegan makes me wonder if Keegan has the answer for us all. I’ll keep you advised on how it all works for me!