A fix to Jonas Blixt's address position while putting made a big improvement. (Petersen/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
Jonas Blixt is one of the very best putters in the world, as evidenced by his No. 2 ranking in strokes gained–putting last season on the PGA TOUR. But early this season, Blixt got a little bit away from his normal putting practice routine and drills. He wasn’t rolling the ball as well, so his swing coach, Jorge Parada of TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass, made it a priority to get him back to his structured drill routine. He also made a slight change to Blixt’s setup, softening his right elbow so that his right shoulder wouldn’t get too high. Because his shoulders weren’t always level, he had a tendency to hit down on the ball slightly, which affected his distance control.
It seems like a minor adjustment, but the right arm plays a vital role in the putting stroke, and is often the key to getting it back on track. It was for Blixt. This past Sunday, he rallied from four strokes back on the strength of his putter, shooting a 3-under-par 67 to capture The Greenbrier Classic by two strokes. On Sunday, Blixt needed just 26 putts, and for the week he led the field in putts per GIR (1.604) and was second in strokes gained–putting (1.918). In the latter category, he vaulted from 67th on TOUR to 47th.
At address, make a conscious effort to keep your right arm soft. You want your right elbow to point to your right hip, not out away from your body, which is what happens when it becomes too straight and rigid. If you straighten your right arm the right shoulder gets too high, which not only causes you to hit down on the ball, but in many instances affects your line as well. Most amateurs swing the putterhead on an out-to-in path when the right shoulder rides up.
By softening the right elbow, you’ll accomplish three things: 1) you’ll draw your elbow in toward your ribcage and level out your shoulders, allowing you to catch the ball more level (in the center of the putterface) at impact; 2) you’ll reposition the right forearm so it’s on the same plane as your putter shaft; and 3) you’ll square the forearms and shoulders to the putt’s starting line. The combination of all three things will create a more instinctive environment for the putterhead to swing on the correct arc, and catch the ball level at impact -- not on the way down.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy,go to www.touracademy.com. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, download the new free TOURCaddie App for iPhone and iPad users at the App Store or www.AppStore.com/PGATOURCaddieAs an in-app upgrade for $9.99, you gain immediate access to more than 175 on-course tips.