10 Most Clutch Putters in Pro Golf
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There have been many wonderful putters in the history of golf, and they all proved the game was made much easier when the ball goes in the hole with a few strokes with the flat stick.
But being a wonderful putter doesn’t necessarily make that player a clutch putter.
Those particular golfers make up a select group, and the following list is my idea of the 10 best clutch putters in golf.
10. Sir Bob Charles
Sir Bob Charles made putts from all over and rode that to 70 professional wins.
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This one might seem like a bit of a stretch, but the stats and his performance over the years say Sir Bob Charles deserves to be on this list.
He played competitive golf for almost 50 years and was a very good player most of the time. His putting was not only good, it was very consistent.
He won 23 times on the now-Champions Tour while many of his contemporaries were fighting the yips.
He totaled 70 professional wins to rank as one of the game’s most successful left-handers before retiring in 2010.
9. Seve Ballesteros
Seve Ballesteros killed the U.S. in Ryder Cups.
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The memories of the late Seve Ballesteros always center on his bravado on the course, his willingness to go for it from outrageous places and the ferocious fight he exhibited.
Somewhat overlooked, however, is the number of clutch putts he made over the course of his career. He was the player the United States feared the most on the greens during the Ryder Cup.
He went over the top with his fist pumps on the 18th green at St. Andrews when he beat Tom Watson in the 1984 Open Championship.
His putting was a mirror of how he played from tee to green: fearless, aggressive, bold—never worrying that if he missed, he’d have to make one coming back.
8. Loren Roberts
Loren Roberts earned his nickname, Boss of the Moss.
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There’s a reason Loren Roberts ended up with the nickname Boss of the Moss.
Here are some numbers.
Roberts won eight times on the PGA Tour and racked up 11 more wins on the Champions Tour. During his 14 full seasons on the PGA Tour, Roberts required 56,457 putts to finish 1,996 rounds.
Broken down, those numbers mean he had a career putts-per-round average of 28.3. That average would have placed him sixth on the PGA Tour this year.
The Boss, nicknamed by a caddy during his career, has a somewhat unique stroke in that he attempts to use a square-to-square pendulum stroke while most putters have some sort of arc to their stroke.
7. Billy Casper
Billy Casper was one of greats with his putter and his short game.
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Billy Casper grew up in an era of golf filled with some of the great names in the game—Palmer, Player, Hogan et al.
He was one of the best of his time, as evidenced by his 51 PGA Tour victories. He had a meticulous pre-shot routine and and didn’t spend much time with read and mechanics.
He won the 1959 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, beating the renowned Ben Hogan. The battle boiled down to Hogan hitting greens and Casper chipping and one-putting.
Casper had such high regard and confidence in his putting that he intentionally played short of the over-200-yard par three on the third hole and made par all four rounds.
6. Dave Stockton
Dave Stockton is a teacher to the stars these days.
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Dave Stockton doesn’t shy away from the fact he wasn’t one of the great ball-strikers on the PGA Tour when he played.
At the same time, he has no problems accepting the plaudits for his skill and accomplishments with a putter. He won a pair of PGA Championships (1970 and 1976), 10 PGA Tour events and 14 Champions Tour events, including three senior majors.
He did it with the putter and as his reputation grew, he became a sounding board and advisor for many players. That led to a lucrative post-playing career as an instructor.
5. Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones had a short but spectacular career.
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Bobby Jones was perhaps golf’s most multidimensional figure, and one of those dimensions was his spectacular putting prowess.
He named his putter Calamity Jane, and together, the two of them carried out a string of success against golf in the 1920s. Although he remained an amateur, he hammered the professionals he played between 1923 and 1930.
He played in 23 majors during that time and won 13 of them, a winning percentage of 63 percent. He also won nine of 10 Walker Cup matches.
His putting game ranks among the best to have ever played the game and his swing is legendary. Not much doubt about why he won so much and has such a place in golf history.
4. Bobby Locke
Bobby Locke won four Open Championships.
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Bobby Locke is on the very short list of the best putters of his era, which was primarily the 1940s and 1950s.
Locke was not only a unique golfer, he was the first internationally successful pro golfer from South Africa. He dressed in white cap, shirt and shoes with dark plus-fours.
He introduced the hook stroke to the game, taking the putter far inside, coming back through with the putter—head closed—and putting hook-spin on the putt.
He used that technique to win four Open Championships. When he came to the United States to play, he won six times in a short period of time. He was banned by the PGA Tour after the 1948 season after a dispute over playing commitments.
3. Ben Crenshaw
Ben Crenshaw's putting stroke is still silky smooth.
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In his prime, Ben Crenshaw was widely recognized as not only a great putter, but one who possessed the most natural putting stroke the game had seen.
He won twice at Augusta National Golf Club, winning the Masters in 1984 and 1995. More evidence to his greatness?
In 1995, Crenshaw either one-putted or two-putted all 72 greens. No three-putts on those greens.
His weapon of choice was the Wilson 8802 blade-style putter that’s been around for nearly 60 years. Crenshaw combined that with a slow, unhurried rhythm that was awesome to behold.
2. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods will need to start making clutch putts if he's going to win majors again.
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Prior to his personal scandal and injuries that knocked him off the tracks toward golf immortality, Tiger Woods made more clutch putts than anybody of his generation, and most other generations as well.
How about the five-footer against Bob May in the 2000 PGA Championship, or the 18-footer he made in the dark at the Presidents Cup, or the 20-footer at Torrey Pines to force an 18-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate in the 2008 U.S. Open?
It was a shocker when Woods would miss a putt from 10 feet or less prior to 2008.
Since then, an argument can be made that his putting has kept him from adding on to his major title total and getting closer to Nicklaus in the category.
1. Jack Nicklaus
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Trying to choose between Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods is like trying to pick the prettiest girl in the beauty pageant.
I’m going with Nicklaus in the top spot here because of the number of pressure-filled putts he made at the most dramatic times possible.
Need an example? How about the 1986 Masters, when he one-putted six greens on the back nine at Augusta National Golf Club to obliterate an eighth-place deficit on the scoreboard to win his 18th major title.
Nicklaus was known as a power-puncher on the course in his day, but he threw plenty of haymakers with the flat stick as well, a combination many power players don’t possess.