Monday, August 7, 2017

Jordan Spieth’s Putting Strategy

I am sure you are like me and watched in amazement as Jordan Spieth finished the British Open. Remarkable is the only word that comes to mind as he found a way to make those critical putts. A week later, I watched him make back to back 50 footers. How does he do it?
If you listen to his interviews he is very forthcoming about some concepts he uses that could provide answers for all of us.

Build a posture and set up that creates a one-way miss. One of the secrets to lower scores is to try and have a swing or stroke that if you miss it is always in a consistent direction. You hear Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo talk about this every weekend. With this in mind, Jordan has said he could eliminate the left miss with his set up. He did not say how specifically, but if you think about it, you can make a pretty good guess. If your feet are parallel to the target line and you bend straight forward from the hips with your left-hand lower than the right, you will find that your shoulders align to the right of your feet. So, if his stroke path is influenced by his shoulder alignment, it would tilt his stroke path to the right. He has talked recently about not trying to be so perfect in his stroke. I think he is allowing the shoulders to close naturally and using this alignment to swing away from a pull. In addition, by tilting the path to the right, the arc better matches the target line with his forward ball position.

This diagram is intended to show Jordan’s set up. Notice the shoulders (red) aligned slightly right of his toe line. In our stroke model, this would move the stroke path (black). Even with this tilt the path matches target line (grey) at the last second, making a miss right more likely than a miss left. It is my opinion, eliminating the fear of a left miss keeps him from steering the putter at impact, allows him to maintain the momentum in his stroke, and gives him an improved feel for speed.

Read Mid and Long-Range Putts in 3 Sections. The second aspect of Jordan’s strategy that I believe to be very important, is his concept of reading a putt in thirds. He comments that it gives him a better sense of speed. This strategy allows you to more easily see the putt in real time. For many of us the idea of the ball losing momentum as we look at the break is foreign. As he looks at each section, he can imagine the ball losing momentum and at the last section he can feel the putt closer to real time. It also gives him a more specific look at the putt. For example, the first third will never break as much as the final third. When we experimented with this concept we found it allows a player to take a linear approach to the first third of the putt and a non-linear approach to the final third.  

Regardless of my theory, when you can combine an enhanced feel for distance, with a no fear release, you can build a very successful strategy for making putts of all lengths.