Saturday, November 6

Bill Pennington: 9 Ways to Putt

ARE YOU AN EXPERIMENTAL player? When you’ve struggled with your putting, have you tried a different technique or switched putters?

I’ve always been a decent-to-good putter who has never made a drastic change in terms of technique or equipment. The only thing I’ve tried on the below list was left hand low at a time when I was twitchy on the short ones. I can’t say it helped much. I only made the change for a round or two before abandoning it.

A friend of mine who was an accomplished collegiate golfer went to the long putter in his mid 30s and never looked back. I’ve tried one on the practice green just for kicks and felt like I was swinging a heavy broom.

I’m always surprised when I see a veteran tour player doing something new. I think, “Wow, what’s that guy doing using the claw grip? He used to be so good.”

Shaky 47-year-old Johnny Miller putted with his eyes closed at times when he won his last PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach in 1994. That sounds odd, but then I read that people with the yips have rapid eye movements, which interferes with brain/muscle control. That would be a good reason to take the eyes out of the equation, especially on knee-knockers.

Here are nine ways to putt shown in the video:

1. Lefty.
2. Belly putter. (Fred Couples)
3. Left hand low. (A lot of players)
4. The claw. (Mark O’Meara)
5. Eyes closed. (Johnny Miller)
6. Listen for it to go in.
7. Side saddle. (K.J. Choi)
8. Long putter. (Rocco Mediate)
9. Look at the hole.

How many have you tried? Was it thought out or an act of desperation? As mentioned in the video, whatever technique you use, it’s all about feel and confidence.

−The Armchair Golfer

On Par with Bill Pennington is a video feature of the New York Times.


Average Golfer said...

Putted with my 3 iron because my putter didn't float.

The Armchair Golfer said...

I tried putting with a 2 iron when my putter broke during a round (no, I didn't throw it) and was not that happy with it as a substitute. I found the 3 metal was actually better. I just choked down on it bit.

Mike said...

Just as an experiment (I'm right-handed), I tried putting lefty cross-handed once, which put my right hand low on the putter. It's actually much more natural-feeling than it would sound -- it's kind of like hitting a backhand with a tennis racket. I tended to pull my putts a bit though.

It might have worked better if I'd used a left-handed putter. I tried it with an old Bulls-eye, which probably didn't have enough loft on the lefty side.