When you think about Texas golf, names like Hogan, Nelson, Mangrum, Crenshaw, Kite, and Speith come to mind just to name a few. Over the years, however, there’s one PGA Tour player I like sitting down to have a beer with more than most. That’s Rich Beem.
The proud son of El Paso Country Club, you probably remember Rich Beem as the winner of the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Minnesota. Though he’s played less and less in recent years on the PGA Tour, he’s gearing up for the Champion’s Tour, and I couldn’t be more excited for him.
Recently, he was kind enough to join us for an insightful chat about putting and what he’s been up to.
Our conversation starts out with Rich sharing his thoughts on putting over the years. He makes no bones about the fact that he “vaguely remembers what it was like to be a kid going out there to the putting green and just taking one ball and knocking it in… There wasn’t a single thought about how to do it, just how many… I have actually digressed from that probably as much as you can…”
As Rich gets ready for the Champion’s Tour, he’s “trying to get back to the point where (putting) doesn’t have a value… If it goes in, great. If it doesn’t, that’s great too… It doesn’t matter.”
He credits his dad with teaching him the fundamentals of golf. One of the most important pieces of advice was keeping his elbows close together throughout the swing. That same thought governs much of how Rich goes about both his swing and putting today.
His dad also stressed how important it is to “never stop searching.” If one thing isn’t working, you can’t be afraid to try something else. That thought is likely one of the reasons Rich has never been afraid to switch putters and putting methods. Self-admittingly, he’s “played with a smorgasbord of putters.”
To that end, Rich has never been an overly mechanical putter. Instead, he sees reading greens as more of an art. “Those greens books… they help out a little bit if you’re unsure, but I still think there’s an art to how you do it… Tiger seems to have a way that he sees it in his eyes.”
When asked what his putting looks like today, Rich says “I’m looking at a putter that also mimics what I’m trying to do in the golf swing. And that’s my posture.”
Today, Rich’s putter is longer and more upright than a lot of players. This fits his body type and cross-handed grip.
Since Rich’s days of grinding week in and week out have curtailed, he’s spent more time as an announcer. During that time, he’s noticed a couple of significant differences in how today’s young players go about putting compared to the older guard. First, “they aren’t afraid to try anything… They will go and find the strangest looking thing… put it up their forearm…” Next, “they don’t leave anything to chance. He’s blown away by the “amount of apparatuses they have to try and show them what the ball is doing off the stroke or… just embed it in their muscle memory.”
As always, it was great to sit down with Rich for a few minutes and record this week’s podcast. He truly is one of the great guys in the game and, we wish him nothing but success as he gets ready to head out on the Champion’s Tour.
To hear the full conversation, listen in to our podcast above. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next week.