By Jason Bruno
Dave Pelz is one of my favorite people to sit down and talk golf with, he's brilliant,
honest and passionate about the game of Golf. Pelz is so well informed and has
created such a wealth of shortgame data, that the games most talented lean on his
expert advice on how to score. He's mentored the likes of Tom Kite and Phil
Mickelson, and if you've ever picked up an Odyssey Two Ball putter he's influenced
your game as well. We first talked back in January 2012, and to be honest, two years
was too long between chats.
Dave Pelz Jan. 2014
LinksNation: You recently signed a new equipment deal - endorsing Cleveland/Srixon,
your thoughts about the partnership?
Dave Pelz: It's exciting for me, because Cleveland/Srixon is a company that
specializes in shortgame, they have the best selection in the industry. They have
great wedges with a variety of bounces and lofts, that can fit any golfer.
LN: Cleveland also has a new putter called Smart/Square that is very unconventional,
what are your impressions?
DP: It's the first putter that I've tested that is easier to aim and putt with than my
two ball putter that Odyssey did very well with for many years, this one is testing
LN: Many people don't know that you had a hand in the design of the Two-Ball
DP: Yeah, only the patent . . . that's all (laughing)
LN: Wedge wise, will you have any special grinds or models?
DP: Just signed on January 7th, and I'm just getting involved in seeing what they're
doing . . . maybe I'll get involved in the future.
LN: Last time we talked (Jan.2012), the USGA ruling on anchored putting was eminent,
and you were adamant about your disagreement with their potential ruling - that is now
reality . . . your thoughts?
PZ: I think the USGA is making their 2nd biggest mistake, the biggest was outlawing box
grooves. They are driving away the most loyal, most dedicated and hardest working
people in the game - by making it tougher. I don't think our game needs to be tougher.
You can do anything you want with the Tour Pro's, that's fine with me, but don't make
the game tougher for amateurs. It's already very difficult, the big problem is not time or
money. People have time, people have money. Most golfers, once you get them on the
course - they wish it lasted longer not shorter . . . they want to stay out there more.
Don't tell me all this stuff about slow play, the problem with the game is - it's so difficult.
LN: Are you surprised more equipment manufacturers didn't take up the fight (on the
anchored putting issue)?
DP: I'm disappointed. I thought the PGA of America and PGA Tour would have fought
them (USGA) on it - because they have the best interest of the game at heart,
apparently more than the USGA does right now. I say that because the USGA says
all the right things, but they're not realists . . . they're in an "ivory tower". They are
thinking about things that they as kids were told by their parents, and it's just not true
anymore. Our youngest generation today is not looking for a difficult game, they have
so many choices. Soccer is bigger than it used to be . . . all sports are on TV now. You
could spend your life in front of a television and never pick up a club, that's easier than
playing golf. I think the game should be promoted and encouraged because it's a game
for a lifetime. The game is so pleasurable and fun for the average player - as long as you
don't make it too hard.
LN: Changing gears, Phil's Open Championship win at Muirfield had to be special for you . . .
DP: The truth is, he hit every shot. He has learned how to hit low shots into the wind, and
it has been a big help to him. He also has learned to not be afraid to bump and run it from
200 yards out, anything 200 and in - he's very happy to go ahead and run it up. I have
always worried the British would always be the hardest for us to win . . . because that one
takes the most self control. Last year he just kept biding his time, he waited, just kept
making pars and then he made it happen coming down the stretch.
"Team Phil" pictured a few years ago at Royal Birkdale
LN: When he talked about his win at Muirfield, he referred to his putting on the fescue
greens as being the biggest difference for him, your thoughts?
DP: He has some keys in his putting that we're not talking about, but what has happened
is, he has decided what his technique really is. There is one perfect putting stroke in his
minds eye . . . now if he misses two or three putts in either direction he isn't wondering
"Geez, I wonder which stroke I should be making, what's wrong." He knows he's not doing
what's perfect, so he goes back to what feels perfect. He committed to this in the middle
of last year and I expect he'll continue that this year. If he does that with his putter and
can keep his driver in play a reasonable amount, then he'll be considered one of the best
players that's ever been, which is an astounding statement.
LN: While were talking about Phil, let's discuss the back nine Sunday at Merion . . . it was
two wedges that really cost him his chance to win his first U.S Open Championship, but
specifically the short par 3-13th. I was just a few yards away from Phil and Bones as they
discussed the shot. The wind had picked up and the rain was enough to be a nuisance, but
what I picked up on was - they never seemed completely committed, what happened there?
DP: I talked to him about both of those shots (13th & 15th holes) that cost him the tournament.
He's not sure where the swing on 15 came from. The one on 13 he said was total indecision, he
takes full blame for that. It wasn't that he wasn't ready to make a good swing . . . he was undecided,
then he gets over the ball and he said "I should have backed off, I know better I'm experienced
LN: Was the thinking, don't plug it in the lip of the front bunker - that's the double bogey?
DP: What he did with his hands was perfect, because that would have hit on the back of the green
and stopped and then come back down to the pin . . . problem was - he pulled it. He pulled it to
the right (for a left hander) to the back edge of the green. He's thinking it's the shortest hole and
that's his strength. Hey listen, Golf is not a game of perfect. The truth is, when he won the British
Open he had about five shots that week that weren't very good . . . they were bad, but he got away
with them. In his mind, the bogey on 13 at Merion Sunday felt like a double. He gets in trouble all
the time and has the best attitude in the world. He's going to win the U.S Open at Pinehurst, and
if it's not this year, it'll be next.
LN: As the owner of a backyard synthetic green set up myself, I'd like to ask you about your
backyard golf utopia back in Texas.
DP: It is unbelievable to me, I've owned 6 homes in my life . . . I'm not an overly materialistic person,
but this is the first time I've ever lived in a home, where just living in the house is a thrill. It has the
most unbelievable backyard, I can be sitting in the living room and 38 seconds later I can be hitting
shots to the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
LN: How long were you planning your dream backyard ?
DP: About 15 years, I designed it. I had the concept, and my first concept was to build a home
on the back of a driving range at a conventional club. Then I realized, Im not going be able to find
a facility with enough targets. I have 8 greens and 4 target areas, I have 13 different yardages I
can hit to inside of 150 yards . . . then I have a 400 yard range in the back. I got involved with an
artificial turf company that would take my advice on how to make the turf better for golfers. I have
a green that rolls 12 (on the stimpmeter), another that rolls 11, two greens that roll at 10, and a lag
putt that rolls 9 1/2 . If you putt on my 12 green, it's like putting at the U.S Open, all of the target
greens are made with an underlayment that holds shots like real turf. My shortgame is better than
it's ever been!
Dave's backyard is a golfer's paradise
LN: What's on the horizon for you in 2014?
DP: I'm really excited, you're here with me in the Cleveland/Srixon booth. I have gone with a company
that specializes in shortgame. Their total emphasis is on scoring, and I'm excited about that.