Neutralise your Grip and Ball Position like Jordan!
Last year we saw the rise of Jordan Spieth, winning 2 majors and almost 4! He was incredibly consistent, with 14 top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour, almost unbelievable for a 20 year old. One of the main reasons for Jordan’s consistency and rise to the top of the game is his ability to grind out a score. Something that has been compared to Tiger, is his ability to hole the important putts. Putts that win him tournaments, get him into play offs, or simply keep him in touch with the leaders.
So what is it that Jordan does that helps him to putt so well? Obviously it takes strength of mind and character to hole those big pressure putts. Forgetting this though, Jordan has a very repeatable putting action, stemming from exceptional fundamentals. With his set up being pretty much flawless, it allows him to keep the putter square and be an incredibly consistent putter. It is my belief that the 2 keys to his perfect set up are his grip and ball position.
Let’s start with the grip. Something that I see from many of the top putters, Jordan included, is the fact that the putter shaft matches the line of their forearms. This is allowed to happen through a sound grip. Many coaches may say, ‘there is no incorrect way to grip a putter’ or ‘grip how you feel comfortable.’ Whilst this has some truth and there may be some variances, the grip has a huge influence on both a golfers set up, and their putting stroke. Whether adopting a right below left, left below right or a hands together grip, it is advantageous to have the grip running down the life lines in your palms. This not only allows the putter and forearms to line up, but it keeps the hands hanging in their natural position. This in turn, makes it far easier to keep the blade square throughout the stroke. It is also important to note that the correct length of putter is also essential to allow both good posture and ‘matching’ to the forearms. You can see from the picture above that Jordan does this excellently.
Following obtaining a neutral grip, another fundamental I believe is key to consistent putting is ball position. I see so many of the consistent putters on tour, again including Jordan, with a ball position just forward of middle. This allows the face of the putter to be directly in the middle of their stance. Having the putter face perfectly centre ensures a greater consistency of a square impact without technical compensations. In other words, if the ball is too far back or forwards, a compensation must be made with the golfers technique (e.g forward press) in order to square the face.
We must also make sure that the ball is directly underneath our eye line at set up. Standing an appropriate distance from the ball should allow this to happen. Keeping the ball on this ‘eye line’ helps the putter track back and through on a more consistent line and allows a much squarer stroke. An eye line inside the ball often causes the putter to track inside with an open face, with an eye line outside the ball doing the opposite. A simple way to check ball position is through dropping a ball from in front of the left eye at set up. Correct ball position would see the ball land on the ball about to be hit.
These fundamental checks can help you achieve a good putting set up and perhaps help you hole some of those pressure putts. They may not be to win major championships, but they could be to win the summer knockout or monthly medal.