Let’s start with Gary Woodland’s putting performance to win the Transitions Championship last week. On Sunday, Gary made 17 of 17 putts from within 20 feet and had only 10 putts on the back nine to win his first event. What is even more impressive is that earlier in the round Gary hit a drive 337 yards. This is the future of golf, my friends— brute strength with touch on the greens.
On Monday, I worked with Ernie Els while he played in his Els for Autism tournament at PGA National. Ernie’s game is great right now, and his putting is improving every week. After the event, I made the short drive from West Palm Beach to Orlando. On Tuesday morning, I arrived at Bay Hill and spoke with many players who all shared the same sentiment: the course was in the best condition they had ever seen it.
Speaking of Bay Hill, I would like to take a minute to speak about this week’s tournament host, Arnold Palmer. For those who have not had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Palmer, he is every bit the gentleman that you see on television. I can’t imagine what it is like to be Mr. Palmer as he is mobbed everywhere he goes, but in all my years of working at Tour events, I have never met an individual who handles that attention with more grace and appreciation. Some of the 20-somethings our here on Tour can learn a thing or two from Mr. Palmer.
On Tuesday, I split my time between two longtime students, two-time U.S. Open champ Lee Janzen and Tim “Lumpy” Herron [photo right]. Lee has an exceptional putting stroke with great release (something 99.9 percent of you can learn from). The only thing I noticed with Lee this week was that he was hitting up on the ball too much. For those of you who own a copy of my DVD, you will know that adding loft is one of the 10 characteristics of a great putter. With that being said, too much loft is actually detrimental. In Lee’s case, his ball position was too far forward so I had him move the ball back approximately a half-inch and the ball began rolling much better along the green.
Tim Herron has putted with both short and long putters. This week he is using the short putter, which I am happy to see. Tim mentioned he had been struggling with poor contact, in particular off the toe of the putter face. After I watched him stroke some putts, I had him move slightly closer to the ball, as well as get more connected. More connected means to get your upper arms and elbows rested on your torso when putting. Tim’s stroke improved greatly in a short amount of time. Tip of the Day: Both Lee Janzen and Tim Herron were not making as many putts as they liked. However, neither of them decided to re-build their putting strokes; instead, they returned to fundamentals. All too often, players (both pros and amateurs) are too critical of their current stroke, and when things are going wrong they think that everything needs to be overhauled. In both cases, a simple change in ball position or improving the connection between the arms and body created a marked improvement. To become a good putter, you must understand what good fundamentals are. Then when things aren’t going as well as you’d like, you can return to those fundamentals and you will see improvement.
Please email your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out my website at www.mariusgolf.com and sign-up for the free member section. In the coming months I will be launching a new upload section that will allow you to send me video of your putting stroke for analysis.
Until next time…cheers! Marius Filmalter is the leading expert on the science of putting and works with more than 40 PGA Tour pros. His blog appears every Wednesday on Golf.com. [Photo by Nick Laham, Getty Images]