“I had no control of my faculties. Admitting and being upfront about it (the yips) has been as freeing as anything.”
—Lucas Glover, talking about his ten-year struggle with putting
Lucas Glover’s remarkable career turnaround is one of the best golf stories of the year. The 2009 U.S. Open champion, Glover spent ten long years trying to figure out his problems on the greens. It got so bad he even considered putting left-handed. But he never considered giving up.
A few months ago, he decided to go to the long putter and ordered one with the same specs as Adam Scott’s since they were similar in height. It’s called the L.A.B. Mezz.1 Max and its key asset is how it stays square to your putting arc. (Check out the company’s YouTube channel at https://labgolf.com/mezz-1-max-putter/)
After spending ten days practicing with it, Glover used it in competition at the Memorial Tournament in late May. Although he missed the cut, he said he was pleased with his putting. “My misses weren’t that crazy, awful, yippy stroke – they were just misses,” said Glover, long regarded as one of the Tour’s pure ball-strikers.
From there, he steadily improved and became more comfortable with the long putter, finally breaking into the winner’s circle two weeks ago at the Wyndham Championship. And again last Sunday in Memphis.
Glover’s rags to riches tale reminds me of a Michigan player who faced similar issues on the greens. Long an accomplished amateur, Bill Zylstra (someone with whom I grew up playing golf in Grand Rapids) had hit rock bottom in 2005. He had the yips and it was ruining his game.
“It was in 2005 after I had just hit 17 greens in regulation and shot 79,” said Zylstra, a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. “I must’ve double hit three times; it was that bad.”
As fate would have it someone who witnessed Zylstra’s putting struggles was Connie Chillemi, a former LPGA player who lived in Ocala, FL, and who used to play in the regular members’ games with Zylstra and others.
After a round, Chillemi suggested Zylstra change his grip. “She told me to split my hands at least a foot apart on the putting grip to take my hands out of the stroke. She was absolutely right.”
Soon after, he sought out a friend who worked with clubs in his basement. “He had one long putter and he sold it to me for twenty bucks.” Later he received instruction on how to best swing the putter, rocking his shoulders and taking the stroke out of his hands as Chillemi urged.
Like Glover, it turned his game around. “In my very next round using it in Ocala I had ten birdies with it,” said Zylstra. “And the next spring I had a putt to shoot 64 at the north course at the old Horton Smith tournament in Detroit. I didn’t make the putt but the stroke was fine.”
In 2013, Zylstra was ranked the top senior male amateur in the U.S. by Golfweek. Since that time, he’s garnered numerous senior titles in Michigan.
Along with Glover, Zylstra admires the putting strokes of Adam Scott and Si Woo Kim both exceptional ball strikers but ones who couldn’t continue using conventional putters.
“Both of them maintain the triangle formed by their shoulders and arms in their stroke and hold their finish.”
Before we finished chatting by phone, Zylstra mentioned he just learned one of his friends, an accomplished senior amateur in Detroit, just ordered a L.A.B. Mezz.1 Max putter.
At a suggested price of $469, it may be a bargain for him as it was for Glover who didn’t even pay for his.
Images courtesy of the PGA Tour, Golf Association of Michigan, and Facebook