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Saturday, September 26, 2009

And Now Phil's Getting into the Act!

Yes, Friday Phil Mickelson showed up at East Lake after having made some noticeable putting changes... and he putted noticeably better too. Both The Armchair Golfer and Golf Channel's Tour Insider, as well as others, have more to say on the topic, but I just want to look at what's different now.

One of Phil's changes is quite obvious: He's widened his stance. (I did a quick search of the Web trying to find before-and-after comparison pics, but had no luck at the time I wrote this post.) Before you rush out and make this change, bear in mind that Phil has been the poster boy for Dave Pelz's putting method for years, plus he's 6'3" tall. As a result, Phil bends over until his back is nearly parallel to the ground... he needs a wider base to keep himself in balance. Unless both of these are also true of you, a wider stance may not help you at all.

The Insider also says his hands are a bit more ahead of the ball, and some of the news outlets seem to feel that this is the more significant change. I agree with that; I've always recommend that weekend players lean the shaft forward so that their hands are either over the ball or in front of it. The reason? Improved contact with the ball; plus, if you have a problem with your wrists flipping over at impact and affecting the aim of the ball, leaning the club shaft forward a bit greatly reduces the possibility of this happening. This is a change that, if you don't do it already, it's certainly worth considering; it won't cause any major changes in your setup or swing, but you could see immediate improvement in your putting.

Again, as with Tiger and O'Hair, there seem to be fewer questions about the putting changes than about how this will affect Phil's relationship with Dave Pelz; apparently Dave Stockton is responsible for Phil's improved putting. Stockton has been well-regarded as a putting teacher for many years now—he also gets credit for Michelle Wie's improved putting as of late—and the reason is simple. He doesn't teach a single method of putting; rather, he looks at each player's existing style of putting and suggests changes that fit. (That's my preferred method also, and my approach in my book Ruthless Putting.) It will be interesting to see if Dave Pelz remains Phil's short game coach while Dave Stockton takes over the reins as his putting coach.

Oh, and in case you're interested, Dave Stockton has a DVD available called Putt to Win ($29.95) and a paperback called Dave Stockton's Putt to Win ($16.95).

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