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March 12 2013

9:51 AM

On the Mark: Tiger's pure putting

By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Tiger Woods was the epitome of power, control and poise at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at The TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral this past week.  

Always the happy hunting ground for him, TPC Blue Monster became Woods’ canvas this year.  His artistry was reminiscent of his exploits circa 2000 – high shots, low shots, draws, fades, Woods had it all on command, but perhaps his most dominating performance came on the greens.  Woods took only 100 putts for the week – an average of 25 per round – and “flushed his putts” as he described his performance with the putter. 

That said, in my opinion, Woods does not get the credit he deserves on the greens.  He is an incredible putter, especially when the pressure is on.  He certainly has a beautiful and fundamentally sound technique and it is with this in mind that I would like to list a few observations of his mechanics. 

Posture perfect: In my opinion, Woods’ putting posture and grip are worth emulating.  He addresses the ball (which is located just left of the middle of his stance) with a relaxed, yet very square stance.  He bends from his hips and allows his arms to hang neatly from his shoulders.  He employs a model “Reverse Overlap grip” with the forefinger of the lead hand resting over the little finger and ring fingers of the trail hand.  The handle of the club rests snugly through the palms of the unit of his hands which helps to reduce excess wrist action.  It also appears that he holds the putter grip with a very light grip pressure.   Strive for a correct grip and perfect posture like Tiger’s as these two elements provide a fantastic base from which to make efficient and correct putting strokes.

Cadence is key: Woods’ stroke exhibits flawless tempo and cadence.  He swings the putter head back and forth with basically a “1-2” rhythm and as he does so, the blade never ever gets too high off the ground.  Copy this cadence as you make your stroke as good tempo helps to improve strike quality, direction and distance control.

Hold that finish: It is a cliché but every great putter maintains a stable body and a still head throughout the stroke and to the finish.  To achieve this, employ the following image to improve your stability and hit more consistent putts.  Imagine that the putter is a very long pencil that you are holding with both hands.  Then make your stroke back and forth with good rhythm imagining that you are drawing a very fine half-moon with your “pencil” on the ground.  Any excessive speed change or wrist action will darken that pencil line and more than likely throw it off path.  So swing that pencil back and through and then hold your finish for the count of 2 seconds or until you hear the rattle of the ball in the cup.  If you do this correctly you will sense how the swinging mechanism of your shoulders, arms and putter has moved from the start to the finish with very little excess movement.  That imaginary pencil line should be neat and it should arc on and off the ball to target line – just like Tiger.

Good luck.

/mi

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