Phil Mickelson’s Tips Help Rekindle My Putting

by Phil Bundy on March 31, 2010

During one of my recent winter trips to practice in Florida, I briefly stopped in the PGA Tour Shop in the Jacksonville International Airport, where I watched a few minutes of Phil Mickelson’s Secrets of the Short Game.

In the video, Phil describes how he sets his eyes slightly behind the ball when taking his stance for a putting stroke. For him, positioning his head directly over the top of the ball forms a sort of wall that prohibits him from being able to see the line of his putt.

As a junior golfer, my strength was my short game, and I was able to make any putt from anywhere. Knowing that perfect putting will be a requirement for me to be successful in my quest to play on the PGA Tour, I have desperately tried to find that putting magic that left me sometime during or after college. In more recent years, my putting has been okay, particularly when I have focused on drills for short putts, but I certainly have not experienced the same feel that I had as a junior player, especially on long putts.

Back in the day, my technique was a bit unconventional and similar to Isao Aoki’s putting style. I used a short blade putter with my hands set low and the toe of the putter raised. Until I watched Phil’s tip, I didn’t realize that I, too, used to have my eyes set just behind the ball where I could see the line of a putt.

In addition to Phil, think about Ben Crenshaw, who is one of the best putters in the history of the game and who addresses putts with his head behind the ball.

Sam Snead’s technique in the 1960s is another more exaggerated example. As he aged and suffered from the yips, he pioneered a croquet-style of putting, where he straddled one leg on each side of the ball while putting. After this technique was banned by the USGA in 1968, he went to side-saddle stance where he angled his feet towards the hole on one side of the ball and was still able to look directly down the target line as he stroked his putt.

During his video tutorial, Phil also mentioned another useful tip that I had stopped using: Putting to an intermediate target on the line of your putt. Now that I am again able to look down the line, I am able to see and putt toward an intermediate target in addition to the hole.

I wholeheartedly recommend Phil Mickelson’s Secrets of the Short Game, which is available as a two-disc DVD set or as a 224-page hardcover book. The DVD was produced by Emmy Award-winning producer Terry Jastrow, and the book features tons of great photos as illustrations.

Please share your thoughts about putting techniques by leaving a comment below.

Until next time, enjoy golf, America!

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