Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)


Why'd I Do That? The Stubbed Putt

By Rick Smith Illustrations by Chris Gash
May 18, 2016

the ground behind the ball, sending it halfway to the hole. You look down at the green, you examine the putter, you shake your head. But everyone knows... you stubbed it.

Usually the stub comes from making a backstroke that's too short, which forces you to really accelerate the putterhead coming through. This changes your rhythm and grip pressure. Look at Jason Day or Jordan Spieth: They take the putter back with consistent rhythm and sufficient length for the distance of the putt. Post-impact the stroke is firm, not loose. The left wrist is in line with the puttershaft.

“Don’t stare at the green or your putter. Everybody knows you stubbed it.”

The key move is an unrushed transition from backstroke to through-stroke. No burst of speed at the ball. And be sure not to loop the putterhead to the inside or outside as you start the forward stroke. Re-routing can cause a stub. The ideal path is slightly to the inside going back, then along the line through impact, then slightly inside again.

First, if you stub a putt, try not to get too embarrassed. It doesn’t happen very often, so just laugh it off and let it go. I assure you, golfers who saw it are not thinking the harsh things you think they’re thinking.

Second, trust the design of your putter, and trust that gravity is working for you. Just make a stroke as if you were throwing a ball underhand—nice and smooth, back and through. Do that, and it will have plenty of length going back and generate enough power to get the putt to the hole. You won’t have to goose it on the way down.

Third, develop a good pre-putt routine and make your routine more important than the outcome of the putt. I’m not so concerned about what you do in your routine, but make sure it’s easy enough to do the same way every time.

The last thing is, beware of the stub on short putts, too. A lot of players roll a putt up to gimme range, then just slap at it. You’ve got to stay focused here. Don’t carelessly backhand even the shortest putt, unless you don’t mind missing ones you should have made. My experience tells me it’s easier to work on keeping your composure than it is to get used to missing short putts. —Bob Rotella, Ph.D.