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Friday, January 16, 2015

Of Belly Putters and Backswings

As you probably heard, Webb Simpson had the best round of his life -- an 8-under 62 -- in the first round of the Sony Open. And he did it with a regular-length putter...

Plus a little help from Butch Harmon... but according to Golf Digest, it wasn't the putter that sent him to Butch.

Webb Simpson with short putter

We all heard about Webb's first attempt at switching back to the short stick over in Japan at the Dunlop Phoenix. It didn't go so well, although that seems to have had as much to do with his full swing as with the putter. As Golf Digest put it:
After a disastrous Ryder Cup appearance, one in which he embarrassingly popped up his opening drive in a four-ball match with Bubba Watson and went 0-2 in limited action for USA, Simpson visited one of the high priests of golf, instructor Butch Harmon. The half-day range session in November already is paying dividends. He hit 10 of 14 fairways and 13 greens in regulation with just slight adjustments to his backswing, mainly keeping the club more in front of him instead of getting it trapped behind with the path too far to the inside.
About that lesson with Butch, Webb told
“I had never seen him before,” he said. “What my caddie and I are working on, we wanted to make sure that we were doing it the right way, and he was nice enough to give us some time. I had a good day with him, and the changes are simple. You wouldn't notice them per se, but just trying to get a little better, so that's the goal.”
Combine that improved swing path with a little time on the putting green and you get a back-9 28 that required only 10 putts, which gives you a really nice-looking scorecard. (He had 9 birdies altogether, along with 1 bogey.)

What's the lesson here? We golfers have a tendency to overdo things. We go to belly putters because we get too caught up in mechanics. Some teacher tells us we need to "hit the ball from the inside" and we get WAAAAY too much inside. We exaggerate just about everything we learn in the game and then we wonder why we still have problems.

Take a tip from Webb. Don't go overboard with swing or putting changes. Make simple changes and "just try to get a little better."

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