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THE DEADLY STROKE
Dan Jenkins
March 17, 1975
It seems so simple. The ball is here, the hole over there, and all you have to do is roll it in. When he was young, Arnold Palmer thought all his putts should drop, but Sam Snead could have told him there would come a day.... Now Palmer can tell Johnny Miller. On the following pages Artist Don Moss takes a surrealistic look at a gallery of champions on the green as they attempt the most important—and what can certainly be the most scary—shot in golf, the putt.
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March 17, 1975

The Deadly Stroke

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It seems so simple. The ball is here, the hole over there, and all you have to do is roll it in. When he was young, Arnold Palmer thought all his putts should drop, but Sam Snead could have told him there would come a day.... Now Palmer can tell Johnny Miller. On the following pages Artist Don Moss takes a surrealistic look at a gallery of champions on the green as they attempt the most important—and what can certainly be the most scary—shot in golf, the putt.

As his watchful caddie racks up the score, Miller drills home another putt on the kind of surface he likes best—one that is table slick.

Early last year Lee Trevino moaned that his stroke had become unhinged, but by August he had it back together again and won the PGA Championship.

Once there was no better putter than Arnold Palmer, but lately he has been like a man in a nightmare trying to tap a size-eight ball into a size-five cup.

When an aging Sam Snead realized his nerves could no longer bear the strain of the conventional style, he faced up to it and grew years younger.

He has been chided for the amount of time he hovers over the ball, but no one has made as many big putts in big tournaments as Jack Nicklaus.

THAT OLD SINKING FEELING

There is no question that golf would be a more fascinating and altogether more bearable game if it were stated in the rules that once the golfer reached the green he could call upon a Rumanian soccer-style placekicker to handle the rest.

The problem with putting is that it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with golf and hasn't for decades. Putting only came about with the invention of the smooth, cultured green, which must have been in the pre-cursing era of the game. Good greens have done nothing but give the golfer a split personality.

First, he is the violent, physical athlete who tries to slash enormous divots out of the fairways, as if he is hoping to bring in another East Texas oil field, or as Dave Marr once said, as if he's preparing Ewell Gibbons' lunch. But when on the green, the golfer becomes something else. He is a solemn, timid, prayerful soul who wants only to peck tenderly at the ball, to dance quaintly behind it or perhaps trot along beside it reading a few pages of Keats, fearing that if he doesn't do any of this, the ball will glide up, over, down, around and so far away from the cup he will have to place an order with room service to get it back.

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