The last presenter at the Dallas Teaching Summit was the short game guru Stan Utley. Author of The Art of Putting and The Art of the Short Game, Utley has become one of the top short game teachers on the PGA tour.
Utley was doing the demonstrating during the previous presentation on green reading and HE MADE EVERYTHING! Sixty foot putts were reduced to gimmies and he was pretty much routine inside 15 feet.
The presentation by Utley gave offered the following advice:
• He started with the grip. His preference is the reverse overlap, with the handle very much in the lifeline of both hands. No finger grip here, strictly in the palms, with the golfers fingers pointing down.
• Narrow stance, bent forward from the hips. Not much knee flex.
• His putter was 36 inches long.
• The stroke he prefers is a more wristy backswing than most instructors. He tells his students to be wristy without looking wristy. When you swing back, the right elbow softens – soft joints equal more wristy.
• He teaches golfers how to use their hands in putting, definitely a departure from instruction of the past.
• His take on the `yips’: he believes this malady is from the golfers hands swinging left (righty) with the face open. The cure? Throw the head of the club on purpose, with the toe passing the heel. In other words: Hook It. A drill for the yips – right hand only, take it back with right wrist, then let the putter head drop down and pass by you, closing.
• Leaving a lot of putts short? The energy is in the wrong place and you’re actually over accelerating the handle. If there was a theme in the private lessons he did during the presentation, it was this. To correct it, he put his one hand four inches targetward from the golfers hands and one hand four inches targetward of the shaft, near the clubhead. The players had to strike the putt and then stop abruptly after impact.
• “The best putters have the shortest follow through,” Utley says. I recently had a conversation with Jeff MacDonald, the CPGA teaching professional at Ashburn. He sat next to the Tomi Putting training device inventor, Marius Filmalter, at dinner. Filmalter says that in the years of testing golfers, he never saw a golfer decelerate on a putt.
• He teaches the tempo should remain the same on all putts. A long putt would have a faster and longer backswing.
• The biggest fault he saw with tour players? The handle moving away too far in the through swing; no crash.
So, be more wristy going back, then use ‘dead strength’ down; some acceleration during the transition, then no acceleration coming down. Don’t accelerate –Crash! Then a crisp, short finish. A quick drill to practice this uses two tees that your putter head crashes into after impact.
Ed Hanczaryk was voted one of the top 50 teachers in Canada and was CPGA Teacher of the Year for Eastern Canada for the past three years. You can reach him at Ed’s Golf Studio, 10 Akerley, Unit 52, Burnside, 450-0111 or online at www.awarenessgolf.com.