One common piece of putting advice I’ve never liked – and so many players use – is to picture the putting stroke as a pendulum. That image promotes a long, flowing stroke with no acceleration into the ball. It might look smooth, but the downside is inconsistent contact and unpredictable results.
Instead, think about giving the ball a pop at impact. That’ll naturally make your stroke a little shorter and faster, which will help you hit the ball with a square putterface. In putting, where the face is pointing at impact almost entirely determines the direction of the putt. For righties, an open face starts the ball to the right and a closed face sends it left. It’s crucial to start your putts on the line you’ve picked. If you do that, assuming you’ve read the break correctly, you’ll give so many more putts a chance to drop into the cup.
Brandt Snedeker and Webb Simpson, two players I’ve worked with over the years, are great examples of golfers who use a pop stroke. They both have a little shorter, tighter motion and strike the ball with almost no follow-through. Their strokes end with the face looking straight down their intended lines. It’s easy to see why those guys make a heap of putts.
So let’s get rid of that long, lazy stroke, and just pop it. As a bonus, you’ll tend to speed up your whole routine, and less time usually means a stronger commitment and more makes. That’s how I’ve always putted, and I think it’ll help you, too.
Harmon is based at Rio Secco Golf Club, Henderson, Nevada
The pop stroke has history
▶ I played a lot with Hall of Famer Billy Casper, who was one of the most underrated players of all time. He was amazing on the greens, and he putted with a very compact stroke. With his hands very close to his body, his left hand almost resting against his left thigh at address, he’d hood the putterface going back, and then pop the ball. My father used to joke that every ball coming off the assembly line wanted to be putted by Billy. Gary Player is another great putter with a pop stroke. Think of those old films of Gary from the 1960s. He was rapping the ball with no follow-through. You can always spot great putters, because all of their putts have that “going in” look. The pop stroke has helped some elite players get that kind of consistency.