Editor's Note: GolfDigest.com has asked Kevin Hinton, one of its "Top-20 Teachers Under 40" and Director of Instruction at Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, N.Y., to analyze players competing in this week's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. His first installment looks at the putting stroke of Wisconsin's own Steve Stricker.
Steve Stricker has one of the best putting strokes on the PGA Tour, one that the amateur golfer should definitely try to emulate provided he has the proper equipment. Steve uses a heel-shafted putter that is toe-balanced. This allows for a stroke that arcs on an inside-to-inside path as the putter face appears to open and close. Many of the game's best putters putt this way, including Tiger Woods and Brad Faxon.
This is very difficult to do if you are using a face-balanced or center-shafted putter. Most mallet-shaped putters are face-balanced and promote a straight back and straight through stroke. If this is the method you favor, make sure you are using the type of putter that makes this easier to accomplish.
Another great attribute of Stricker's stroke is how steady his head stays. You can see in this clip that his head does not release until well after the ball is gone. Next time you play or practice, try and keep your head completely still so that you do not see the ball go in the hole on your short putts, or maybe only out of the corner of your eye. The key is to try to "hit and listen".
On long putts, do not release your head until the ball has gone approximately halfway to the hole. By doing this, you will accomplish two things:
You will minimize off-center hits that will result in a better roll.
You are committing to your stroke and separating yourself from the result.
This is as much a mental exercise as a physical one. Give this a try and I guarantee you will make more putts. You can take pride in the fact that you are committing to the process and not the result.
*-- Kevin Hinton *