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Golf IQ

Charlie accidentally revealed some fascinating insight into Tiger Woods' putting

December 18, 2023
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Mike Mulholland

Like all the greats, Tiger Woods guards his secrets close. It's a small and tight circle of golfers who are allowed to learn from the lifetime of knowledge that one of the game's greatest ever players has accumulated over the years.

Over the weekend at the PNC Championship, we got a glimpse into a small part of it. It came from a light-hearted comment from Charlie Woods in response to a question from GOLF.com's Claire Rogers:

"For Dad as a caddie, his reads are hook-bias, and I don't hook as much as he does. So all of my putts, I miss right. So I have to account for that."

When the rest of us look at Tiger's stroke, we'd be forgiven for thinking it's perfect. But it's not. On paper, it’s actually rather unusual, which is something that's been validated by some famous Sam Putt Lab data of Tiger’s action.

Peak under the hood of Tiger's putting stroke, and you'll find he aims far to the right: About 2.5 degrees to the right of his intended line, to be exact.

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But then by the time the putter face reaches impact, the putter face is closed: It points about a degree to the left of his intended line, which is more than three degrees to the left of where he was aiming.

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Tiger is, in simple terms, aiming his putter to the right and then using a hard right-hand release to hook it back. Notice how the blade below says it's closing about 5.5 degrees? That’s the “hook bias” Charlie talked about over the weekend.

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This is also, incidentally, why you'll often see Tiger start every one of his practice sessions hitting putts with only his right hand. Because he's instinctively practicing releasing the putter with his right hand. If he didn’t hit release his right hand so aggressively, he’d probably miss putts to the right, like Charlie says he does.

That's why Charlie says he needs to account bias when Tiger reads putts: Because he doesn't hook putts as much as Tiger.

Anyway, what's something the rest of us can learn from this?

Well, notice Tiger's "consistency" score in the screengrabs above. They're all hovering in the high 90s. Everything else aside, that’s the truly essential ingredient in all this.

That's the lesson. That even though, on paper, Tiger's stroke isn't perfect, that doesn't matter. It doesn't need to be perfect. Instead, it's something better: Natural, and repeatable. Tiger has mastered his unique motion, and knows how to do it the same way, every single time. That's the real key to putting. Even if it may make for some strange reads for Charlie along the way.