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Monday, February 11, 2019

Eric Johnson on Putting Like Nicklaus

The Limerick Summary has to wait until Tuesday so they can finish this morning at 11am ET on GC. So here's a new putting article I found. Enjoy!

PGA instructor Eric Johnson has a cool article about the Nicklaus putting style over at It covers a number of basics about the stroke, which he demonstrates WITHOUT Jack's trademark hunched-over-and-open stance, so more of you may find some use in it.

I want to focus on what Johnson calls "The Perfect Piston" position because this is the basis of the technique.

The Vertical Piston Position

As you can see in this photo from the article, the lead forearm, hands and shaft form a straight line. Most people do that automatically. But the key here is that the forearm/shaft line is vertical and actually lines up just ahead of the lead leg as you swing through the stroke.

Other photos in the article show the ball being positioned just ahead of the center of Johnson's stance, and the lead elbow swinging away from the body when the club is in the position shown in the above photo. That's how the club moves straight down the line after impact.

Johnson also explains in the article that while this appears to be a "rocking shoulder" stroke, that's actually a bit of an illusion. You don't rock your shoulders to make the stroke; rather, you make the motion using your arms. It's the pushing of your trailing hand and arm -- the "piston" in the stroke -- that rotates the shoulders forward slightly on the followthrough.

You might find that the ball is better positioned just inside the lead foot, in front of your instep, so the club is traveling more level to the ground at impact. And, as Johnson demonstrates above, you might like a slightly closed stance rather than the Nicklaus open stance. There's a lot of room here for customizing the stroke to your body.

The important thing to note is that this is a push stroke with the trailing arm. If you try to use your shoulders too much, you'll create more of a curved stroke instead of the straight piston stroke.

There are several photos in the article, each with clear explanations. It's a nice adaptation of the Nicklaus technique for modern players.

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