NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
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A year ago at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Justin Thomas wore FootJoy shoes with the artwork of a patient from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This year, four patients helped create custom shoes for all FootJoy players.
Thomas, Webb Simpson, Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer received shoes, each displaying artwork from one of four patients. All other FootJoy players donned a “full pattern” that featured all of the designs together.
Ian Poulter was pleased with his gear:
The initiative was a part of FootJoy’s participation in the Birdies for St. Jude fundraiser and included players reaching out to the patients through virtual calls.
Meanwhile, the equipment world is still buzzing about Charl Schwartzel’s bizarre putter that guided him to a T3 finish two weeks ago at the 3M Open.
The peculiar mallet that features the shaft going into the back of the putter head, was retrieved from a trash can at PXG’s headquarters in February 2019. The flat stick was an early prototype that was never going to see the light of day. But Schwartzel sought an intriguing combination of features.
“Charl initially expressed interest in testing an armlock style putter,” a PXG spokesman told PGATour.com. “After testing out a traditional armlock design, Charl explained he was looking for more forward shaft lean, while maintaining the forward ball position he always uses. This couldn’t be achieved with a traditional head design.
“Thinking about the requirements, we grabbed a back-shafted design out of a scrap bin; it had dents and scratches all over from chucking it in the trash. We built up the putter and Charl instantly felt that it was a much more natural fit.”
Schwartzel is up to No. 37 in strokes gained putting this year, well ahead of the No. 91 ranking he had in his last full season on the PGA Tour.
Interestingly, the 37-inch putter is longer than standard with a particularly heavy head, but does not feature counterbalance weight in the grip. Schwartzel came into putter testing with the thought of going with the armlock style of putting, but felt he had to alter his stance in order to make that method work.
It all led to one of the oddest putters in the pro game.
“The shaft location is behind the center of gravity, so the golfer is pulling the head on the backstroke instead of pushing it,” the spokesman said. “Our initial concept was that pulling the head makes it easier to start the head on its path consistently. The configuration creates significant forward shaft lean while keeping the ball position more forward in a player’s stance, two aspects that Charl specifically requested.”