Thursday, May 31, 2012

Putting Help from Zach Johnson

Zack Johnson put on a short game clinic this past weekend at Colonial. He putted beautifully. If you are looking for a putting stroke that shows you a full release of the putter, Zach is your man. If you watch his stroke, you see Zach uses his right arm and hand to swing the putter forward. At times the left arm stops moving, but because the right wrist is soft the right arm keeps moving and finishes the stroke.

This release of the putter is a natural reaction to his “hands back” set up. His left wrist is already in a cupped position at set up, making it easy for the right arm to take over in the stroke and allowing the left wrist to collapse to make room, without influencing the position of the face relative to the target or the path of the putter. Try this. Set up with your right hand only on the putter and hit a few putts. After awhile you will notice that you start to stroke the ball with less bend in your right wrist to improve the strike. The arm swings rather than the forearm pushing. Now without taking your right hand off the club match your left hand and arm to the right arm. This is Zach’s set up.

Where this soft left wrist becomes a problem is when a player is in a more “conventional’ flat wrist position. When the wrist goes from flat to cupped it flips the putter up, causing you to hit it on the bottom of the face and almost always with the face twisting closed in the process. With any player I work with that uses a right arm stroke, I suggest a soft left wrist.

What I love most about Zach’s stroke is that it is totally contrary to the method suggested by many “ball roll” specialists. Mr. Breed are you out there? I watched the tournament on and off for all four days and I never once heard the announcers talk about the “poor” roll Zach puts on the ball. Rather than hitting up on the ball he actually uses the loft of the putter and his right hand to lift the ball to start the putt and it rolls out from there. On fast greens or downhill putts this gives him the added advantage of using the loft of the putter to soften the hit and control the speed.

More than any other technique, this method mimics the feel of an underhand toss to the ball to the hole and is much easier to replicate than it looks.


Anonymous said...

Great player, brilliant putter and great man. Amazing roll on the ball and perfect sense that the pushing hand causes topspin as you want when putting.

polojr said...

The is notice of the right arm dominating the forward stroke, but in Zach's case what actually start the putting stroke?