It took Brendan Steele a little time to figure out an alternative to anchoring his putter. But once he did--by going with a version of the claw putting grip--the 33-year-old won his first Tour event in more than five years, at the Safeway.
Steele's ball-striking has always been a strength, and it was again in Napa. Top New York teacher Michael Jacobs says Steele's swing doesn't look like the postcard version you see from some players, but he does two crucial things that would help any player.
"You hear a lot of talk about posture, but people tend to think of that as only meaning the relationship between the upper and lower body," says Jacobs, who is based at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville, on Long Island. "It's more than that. When you look at Brendan Steele, you can see that he keeps nice flexion in his right knee and hip in the backswing. Losing that flexion hurts your consistency even if you keep your spine at the same angle it was at address."
Another great checkpoint is Steele's left arm position as he gets down to the impact area. "Here's another indicator of consistency," says Jacobs. "The most consistent ball-strikers have their left arm hanging straight down at this point. The more that arm gets away from the body, the more trouble you're going to have getting that repeating solid contact."
Steele's full swing--and putting stroke--are proof that you don't have to have a textbook look to your swing as long as you're doing the right things when it matters.