Short Game

Finding the feel

August 08, 2007

Don't squeeze: If your grip tightens during the stroke, you won't release the putter.

I love fast greens. As far as I'm concerned, they can't be fast enough, even when they're extremely sloped. That's when feel and imagination come into play the most.

Light, consistent grip pressure is one of the keys to negotiating lightning-fast greens. A lot of amateurs either grip the putter too tightly from the start or increase grip pressure during the stroke. Either way, they have trouble controlling pace, which is just as important as line. I ratchet down my grip pressure depending on the speed of the greens.

My grip pressure on an average tour green might be 5 on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the lightest and 10 the tightest. At the U.S. Open in June, my number was no more than 3. Gripping it light allows me to release the putterhead, a critical factor on super-fast greens.

Ask Tiger

Congratulations on your new baby [Sam Alexis, born June 18]. How's it going so far? Changing any diapers?

--Tom Eichler / Chicago

Fatherhood feels so good. It's something people describe, but until you actually experience it for yourself, you can't really relate to what they're saying. Everything went smoothly with the birth, and I'm grateful for that.

Yes, I've changed a few diapers. It is what it is. The hardest part is sleep, or rather the lack of it. My typical night's sleep has been cut in half from about five hours to something like 2 1/2. I guess Sam is like all newborns in that she sleeps here and there. She's too young to get on a regular pattern, but hopefully that will change soon. I don't need a whole lot of sleep, but it's really in short supply at the moment.

Elin and I came up with the name Sam because that's what my dad used to call me when I was little, since the day I was born. He rarely called me Tiger when it was just the two of us hanging out. I used to ask him why he didn't call me Tiger, and he'd say, "Well, you look more like a Sam." So that's the story behind her name. It was kind of a natural fit considering she was born the day after Father's Day.

Click here to view pictures of Sam Alexis Woods.

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