It all started after one particularly bad putting day at Niagara Falls Country Club in the Spring of 1995. If I recall correctly, I managed to hit 12 greens in regulation, but Six 3-putts signaled loud and clear that a change was needed in the bag.
I vaguely remembered borrowing an old Ray Cook putter and liking the feel of the heavier club, as I liked the “pendulum feel.” Two days later, I walked into the former Springbrook Golf, and told the pro I was looking for an “anvil on a stick.”
After handing me two or three “name brand” putters, I announced “still not heavy enough.” Finally, he remembered, that he had another putter on clearance that may give me what I was looking for. As soon as I felt the Probe 20/20 Putter, I knew that my search was over. For those of you that have ever played with me, you know that “anvil on a stick” is the most apt description for the Probe. The much touted “Heavy Putter” feels like a feather compared to my Probe.
For years, I have endured a number of smirks from my fellow competitors, especially as the paint on the shaft continued chipping away. I have never encountered another person who has ever used the Probe or even heard of it before. Until this week, I wasn’t even aware there was promotional video for my putter (endorsed by Gary Player) or even a hidden secret to eliminate break from putts. Ironically, after 15 years of neglect, I just re-painted the shaft in anticipation of this Kohler trip, as well as added a new, oversized grip.
Throughout our time together, the Probe has been an integral part of my “Scrambler” ability, making numerous unlikely par saves over the years. It has been threatened with relegation to the “used club” bin on several occasions, but has usually responded with a streak of hot putting for another stay of execution. But the Top 3 highlights of our life together would be:
Oakmont 2002 – On some of the most treacherous greens in the world, we managed to get through in only 35 putts, after being warned that 7-8 three putts were the norm for first timers at Oakmont.
Presidents Cup Playoff 2010 – In the final match of the Elma Meadows President’s Cup, I faced a right-to-left 8 footer to extend the match. After making the putt, I won the 2010 Championship on the 2nd Playoff Hole.
Elma A Class Championship 2006 – Down two strokes on the 35th hole, I faced a 65 foot birdie putt, while my competitor had a 15 foot birdie opportunity. After curling some 5 feet, the bomb dropped in the bottom of the cup for am improbable 3, and shook the leader into an unlikely 3 putt. The Probe sealed the deal with a slippery, downhill 4 footer for Par on the 18th.