‘It’s working’: After 10 years of putting yips, major champ finds hope in potential remedy
You needn’t search long or hard on the magical information provider known as the Interweb to uncover the unfortunate condition that has plagued Lucas Glover’s putting game over the last decade. Among the headlines and YouTube titles that quickly surface:
‘Is that legal?’ Watch major winner hole traumatic yippy putt
Lucas Glover’s nightmare-fuel putting stroke yip, explained
We could keep going, but you get the grim picture. Short putts have been a problem for the 2009 U.S. Open champion.
“Ten years of fighting the legit just yips,” Glover said Thursday from the Barbasol Championship, in Kentucky. Note the just. It was as if Glover was giving himself an extra beat to gather the steel to utter golf’s ugliest four-letter word.
Glover was 29 when he broke through at the 2009 U.S. Open, at rain-soaked Bethpage Black. Few saw him coming that week. He had just one PGA Tour win and was the 71st-ranked player in the world, and he had missed the cut in three previous U.S. Open starts. But when he holed a three-footer on the 72nd hole during the Monday finish, he became the victor by two over Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Ricky Barnes.
Three-footer, three-schmooter, right? Ehh, not so much for Glover in the years that followed. In 2011, he picked up his third career Tour title, at the Wells Fargo Championship. but then endured a 10-year winless drought that twice required him to earn back his status through what was then the Web.com Tour. When players struggle, it’s often more than just one solitary part of their game that is holding them back, but in Glover’s case, his putting was undoubtedly a primary culprit. Since 2012, he has finished just once in the top 100 on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting (2019, 53rd) and eight times outside the top 150.
The stats from close range — aka yip range — are even more disheartening. Take the last three years. In the 2020-21 season, Glover missed 24 putts from 3 feet and in (863 for 887), a miss rate of 2.71% that ranked 196th on Tour. To put that number in perspective, 20 players didn’t miss any putts from that range. In 2021-22, he missed 27 shorties (193rd), and this season already he has missed 26.
Even when Glover finally snapped a 10-year-two-month winless spell, at the 2021 John Deere Classic, his putting wasn’t always stellar. When he missed a couple of would-be kick-ins in the second round at TPC Deere Run, CBS Sports analyst Colt Knost said on the telecast, “Most people pick up putts from the length that he’s missed this week.”
Glover, to his credit, has never been in denial about his affliction. He has spoken openly about how the yips have sullied his game and how he has tried to treat them (like an uncurable disease, you can never fully eradicate them). He has putted with his eyes closed; he has tried to rewire his stroke (and brain) with “high-stress” putting drills; he has a system of setup “checkpoints” with his caddie, Tommy Lamb. “If there was something to try, I’m sure I’ve tried it,” Glover said after his Deere win.
His latest experimental elixir: a new putter.
Two weeks ago, at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Glover added a broomstick putter to his bag, an L.A.B. Mezz.1 Max with a mallet head that looks like something with which you might open a beer bottle.
The results were immediate: Having missed the cut in two of his previous three starts, Glover tied for fourth in Detroit. A week later, back at the John Deere, he tied for sixth. And this week, at the Barbasol? He fired an opening 63 Thursday to grab a one-shot lead. As of this writing, he’s 11 under for the week, co-leading by two with Adam Long. Glover’s putting stats haven’t exactly been breathing fire, but by his standards, they have been highly encouraging. In the first round on the greens, he gained 0.188 strokes on the field.
L.A.B. Golf MEZZ.1 MAX
After his round Thursday, Glover was asked if his new flatstick has been the difference-maker.
“Yes, that’s the root of it, for sure,” he said. “Just got confidence in the putting and making some of those midrange putts and very comfortable over the short ones again.
“I got to a point with putting, I needed a whole new — basically a whole new brain function, a whole new method. … I had two weeks off before Memorial and just ordered [a new putter] and taught myself how to use it and been kind of sticking to that.” He added, “It’s been fun to teach myself something in the game I’ve been doing for literally 40 years.”
It’s a radically different stroke for Glover, who has spent his nearly 20-year Tour career with a traditional putter. His left hand grips the top of the putter handle, off his chest, and his right hand rests about 18 inches below in a “claw” position.
“Completely new motor skill has been the trigger and has been the root of this confidence,” he said. “It’s working. And I’ve gone back and forth through many different types of putters and styles to where I know that those don’t work, so this is where I’m at. And it’s resurrected a lot of guys’ careers and for the same reasons, whether they planned it that way or not. … When you struggle as long as I have, or had, it just happened to be what happened to be the answer.”
Long may it last.