Can you spot the subtle change Rory made to his putting technique?

February 20, 2020

For Rory McIlroy, the flat stick has always been something of an Achilles heel. He did rank 24th in SG: Putting in 2019, to be fair, but that’s something of an outlier based on the years preceding it: 97th in 2018, 159th in 2017 and 139th in 2016.

And apparently, that’s led to Rory doing a bit of subtle tinkering.

At the Genesis Open last week, he put a new putter in play: It was the same TaylorMade Spider X Copper putter, but instead of his customary 34-inch shaft, he switched to a slightly longer 35-inch putter.

Why? He reportedly made the switch for a few reasons:

1. A longer shaft will help bring his posture more upright, which has the added benefit of taking pressure off his lower back.

2. The longer putter also allows his arms to be slightly more bent and relaxed, freeing his stroke of tension.

3. And finally, by shifting his eyes higher (due to his more upright posture), it alters the way he sees the line of his putt and therefore could potentially improve his alignment.

Below are side-by-sides of Rory’s technique; his shorter putter on the left and his slightly longer one on the right. Can you notice any differences?

A side-by-side look at Rory McIlroy's putting technique from 2019 (left) and 2020 (right).

It remains to be seen whether it’ll work in the long run. After his first round at the WGC-Mexico Championship on Thursday, McIlroy revealed that he went back to his 34-inch putter. But lengthening could still be an option for you. Before you make a decision, give this week’s Fully Equipped pod a listen. A longer putter can be great for some people, according to co-host Tim Briand, in part because one of the side effects of a longer putter is that it promotes a more open clubface — something I never knew. So if you struggle with missing putts out to the right, maybe think twice about instinctively grabbing a longer putter.

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