‘Putters are kittens’: Lee Trevino gives one of the best putting tips

Lee Trevino

Lee Trevino on the practice green ahead of the Celebration of Champions at the Open Championship.

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Lee Trevino was asked what he felt was important about putting, and he talked about a baby cat. 

Only he can, and only he did. Trevino is both one of golf’s great players, and one of its best talkers, and in an appearance on Friday on the New Breed of Golf with Michael Breed show on SiriusXM, he wonderfully combined the two. We won’t say much more, though. It’s Trevino story time. (Though it’s here where we need to tell you to listen to the entire show, which you can do so here with a subscription.)

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“Putters are kittens, if you’re a farmer,” he said on the show. “If you’re a farmer, and you know anything about cats, when a cat has a litter of kittens, they’re blind. And they don’t see their mom until about seven days. I won tournaments with a different putter every day. It was an 8802, but it was a different putter. And the reason for it was if I started putting bad with a putter, it recognizes me. 

“You understand. So I would grab a putter that’s still got its eyes closed. I’d grab a putter that has its eyes closed, and it doesn’t know who I am. And after I win the tournament and go to the next week and I start putting bad again, I put it back in the closet and get another one that’s blind. And that’s what I did. I carried a half a dozen or more putters — same kind, but I carried them.”

Is the superstition thought better than the comparison, or vice versa? Who’s to say. Can the tip help you? Hard to know. Trevino also wasn’t done.  

“My mother-in-law used to go crazy,” he said on the show. “She’d tell my wife, she’d say, ‘He changed putters today. He’s leading, and he changed putters.’ And I did. I putted with a Tommy Armour or a 3852, and then I putted with the 8802 and the designed Palmer. Yeah, I putted with those. I never got the yips until I started going to mallet heads and all this other stuff.

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“But I won the PGA with a Ping, you remember, the ‘A’ blade. My wife bought that in Holland, believe it or not, because I hit 18 greens that day in the Dutch Open and I shot 72, and she went in and paid 55 dollars for a putter and I shot 64 the next day with it.”

“So what you’re saying is it’s not that you have to putt with your eyes closed, it’s that your putter has to have its eyes closed,” Breed said. 

“Yeah, the putter has to be blind,” Trevino said. 

Breed, also a longtime instructor, then asked for Trevino’s putting philosophy, and here the six-time major champion answered with thoughts on his style, the best technique and the best users of it. 

We won’t say much more, though. It’s Trevino story time again.

“Well, the reason I got into the yips was simply because I was a holder,” he said on the show. “I was a holder in playing golf and I was a holder in putting. I actually glanced the putt. My putter went up and out, up and out, up and out. And that was just too much movement — my nerves couldn’t take it anymore and I still can’t putt that way anymore. But anyway, the putting stroke, you know, the best putters, as you well know, actually hook the putt and they stop the putter. 

Gary Player, Gary Player hit the ground. Bobby Locke, he got that from Bobby Locke. Bobby Locke would aim to first base, swing to second base, and the damn putt would go to third base. I mean, that’s what he would do. … And I’m telling you, he was aiming out of bounds. Every shot he hit, he aimed out of bounds to the right. And then he putted the same way. I didn’t think he was putting at the hole the first time that I saw him putt on the green. He was aiming 10 feet right of the hole. And then he would loop it and close the blade and hit it. [Ben] Crenshaw, Crenshaw takes the putter way back, but he doesn’t go through but about four to five inches. You know, he does the same thing — he takes it inside and spanks it.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.