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July 30 2013

9:38 AM

Tips from Travis: The 'pop' stroke


Brandt Snedeker had 105 putts at Glen Abbey. (Petersen/Getty Images)

By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academies

In winning the RBC Canadian Open over the weekend, Brandt Snedeker reaffirmed his status as one of the favorites heading into next week’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Snedeker was rock-solid once again on the greens at Glen Abbey, leading the field in putts per greens hit (1.560) and birdies (23).

Considered one of the game’s best putters, if not the very best (he led the PGA TOUR in “Strokes Gained-Putting in 2012), Snedeker won for the second time on TOUR in 2013 using a short, compact putting stroke favored by such legends of the game as Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller. You don’t see this type of “pop” stroke very much anymore, because of the faster nature of the greens today, but if Snedeker keeps winning and putting lights out, it may be back in vogue again.

One of the things I like about the pop stroke is that it assures that the putterhead is accelerating through impact, not slowing down, despite the abbreviated finish. Most people who decelerate the putterhead think that the stroke is longer back and shorter through, when in most instances it’s the opposite -- the putterhead is being dragged through the hitting area into a longer finish.

Snedeker’s putting stroke is like a Justin Verlander fastball in that it accelerates and then comes to a quick stop in the catcher’s mitt. The acceleration phase is very tight, but the putterhead doesn’t lose speed until the ball is struck. Try it sometime, especially if you’re prone to decelerating the putter every now and then. Swing the putterhead back a few inches, and then accelerate it into an imaginary catcher’s mitt like it’s making the popping sound of a 90-plus mph fastball. Swing longer back and shorter through and see if it makes a difference in your quality of contact and distance control.

The other thing unique about Snedeker’s putting technique is his grip. His left hand is very strong, meaning that the “V” formed by his thumb and forefinger points to the right side of his chest. By making his left hand stronger it actually cups the wrist more, which encourages the putterhead to release earlier with more level shoulders and square the putterface to the intended line. The putterhead has released as soon as it passes the low point of the stroke, which occurs at the left wrist because of its cupped position.

If you weaken your left hand and lean the putter shaft more forward, it can flatten the wrist out, so the low point occurs later (opposite the left shoulder). This is certainly another way to putt but requires the lead shoulder to elevate more through impact in order to release the putterhead.

Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction for 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/PGATOURCaddie. As an in-app upgrade for $9.99, you gain immediate access to more than 175 on-course tips.

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