Steve Stricker is frequently named by his peers as one of the best putters in the game. In 2011, he ranked second on the PGA Tour in a complex, new statistic that many believe is the most accurate way to judge a player's putting ability: strokes gained--putting. Simply put, this stat is an analysis of how many strokes a player gained on the rest of a tournament field by making the putts that others missed. Although it would be easy to credit Stricker's success to world-class hand-eye coordination and years of practice, don't overlook the significance of his method.
There are things Stricker does when he steps onto a green that would be considered unorthodox even by the most open-minded putting coaches. There also are things he does that are standard fare. But it's those unusual bits that just might be the keys to making a ton of birdies. And they might help you, too. So here are Stricker's secrets to better putting. --Ron Kaspriske
I like to grip the putter fairly tight in my left hand, probably a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, but my right-hand grip is considerably lighter. I'm a left-hand dominant putter, and the two grip pressures reinforce the feeling that my left side will be controlling the stroke. I also don't want the feeling of the face twisting, even the slightest, when I strike the ball. I grip the putter in the palm of my left hand, not the fingers. It's resting on my lifeline. This gives me a feeling of unity between the putter's shaft and my left arm.
> 2. WAGGLE
You read that right. I actually "waggle" my putter by bouncing it against the turf a little before I make a stroke. As a kid, I used to forward press the shaft before hitting a putt to reduce tension. But because I want to keep the shaft in the same position from start to finish to improve my consistency, I've developed this bouncy move. It's hard to go from a static position into a fluid stroke, so this is what I do to make it smoother. Also, my putter sits with the heel slightly off the ground, which results in a straighter back and through motion.
At address my left wrist is cupped, and my goal is to maintain that angle throughout the stroke. Most people have the shaft leaning toward the target, but the cupped wrist sets the shaft in a more vertical position. I believe this helps me strike the ball consistently in the same place on the putter's face as well as put the best possible roll on the ball. As I said earlier, I'm a left-hand-dominant putter. I feel as if my pendulum stroke is moved by my left shoulder, arm and hand working together.
I don't worry about speed. I just pick my line and then really concentrate on hitting the ball on that line (right).
My ball position is pretty standard, somewhere between one and two inches off my left foot. The ball rolls best from this spot.
My stroke is pretty straight-to-straight. I think it's got to come inside the target line a little bit, but I don't worry about that.
The hardest putt is a short, downhill curler. All you can do is pick a line and tap it.