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How Harris English's putter grip caused an unusual rules issue at the Ryder Cup

October 06, 2021

Mike Ehrmann

Turns out, there was some Ryder Cup drama on Sunday at Whistling Straits. Just not the kind anyone saw coming—especially Harris English.

The Ryder Cup rookie appeared on the Fore the People podcast with John Peterson and J.J. Killeen following Team USA's historic rout and shared a story involving his putter grip. His old, old putter grip.

Apparently, it was in such bad shape that someone called a rules official about it possibly being non-conforming. And as English arrived at the Whistling Straits clubhouse on Sunday ahead of his singles match with Lee Westwood, he was puzzled to see captain Steve Stricker's number on his phone.

"I had no idea what he was calling me about, he hadn’t called me this whole week," English told Peterson and Killeen. "He said, 'Hey Harry, I’ve got some bad news. We’ve got the head rules official here and he wants to take a look at your putter grip.' I’m like, 's---.'"

Here's a better look at the tattered grip that caught the attention of viewers during English's epic eight-hole playoff win over Kramer Hickok at the Travelers Championship:

Michael Reaves

"I’ve been putting with it for 8, 9, 10 years—I have no idea how long," said English, who won twice and earned more than $6 million during the 2020-2021 season using his trusty club. "Somehow, someone thought it made me putt better. I don’t know. I have no idea why."

Whether that someone was part of Team Europe is another question. Regardless, the grip was declared non-conforming because the cloth part had frayed completely off the rubber part at the butt end of the grip.

English would either have to change grips, change putters, or somehow fix the grip to a rules official's satisfaction. In stepped Davis Love III.

"Davis, the savvy deer hunter and knifesman he is, got an X-Acto knife and cut the part off," English said. "We gauzed it so it would be flush with the other cloth part. He did it in a few minutes."

Who says Ryder Cup assistant captains don't do anything?

In the end, English wound up losing his match, but keeping his grip. At least, for now.