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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Phil's Putting Changes

On Monday's The Golf Fix Michael Breed had some observations about the changes Phil has made to his putting stroke. I thought I'd add my 10 cents to the discussion.

I don't guess it's any secret that I'm not a fan of the claw grip. (Or any variation of it either.) It's not that I don't think it will work -- I'm sure many of you use it and, if it works for you, you should stick with it -- but I don't like the way it keeps your trailing wrist rigid. It takes extra practice to develop your feel when your wrist is rigid. It's a more mechanical way to putt. But I understand why so many players like it -- it has fewer moving parts.

The big thing Michael talked about is how Phil's previous forward press had the same effect as moving the ball position. Let me explain that for those of you who don't understand what I'm talking about.

A forward press is when you move your hands slightly toward the target before starting your stroke. Phil used to make a large one, and that caused him to move his upper body. When his upper body moved, his shoulders and hands moved as well. If the ball were directly below his chin when he addressed the ball, after his upper body moved his chin was behind the ball. It was like moving the ball position forward in his stance during his swing.

Result? The club face wasn't square when it hit the ball, so the putt started on a different line than he originally aimed down. That's why instructors want you to stay steady over the ball.

One other thing: Because Phil has stopped moving his upper body, he changed the loft on his putter from 5 degrees to around 2 degrees. That's probably not a good idea for most of you. Unless you putt on PGA Tour-quality greens, you need the extra loft because most greens aren't as smooth. The extra loft helps you get the ball up on top of the grass.

Those are the basic putting changes Phil made that helped him destroy the field at TPC Scottsdale -- less forward press (to reduce upper body movement) and less putter loft (a change most of you probably shouldn't copy). If you think they'll help you, give them a try.

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