‘95 percent of modern players’ do this while putting, according to an expert
Parker McLachlin was watching Hideki Matsuyama putt, and he went to work.
“One of the things I noticed about Hideki is he has his hands really low,” McLachlin said.
And when McLachlin sees things, you may want to listen.
Maybe you’ve heard the name. He’s carved out a solid PGA Tour career — one win, at the 2008 Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, some other top 10s — but he’s been really good on and around the greens. As GOLF’s Zephyr Melton dug up, McLachlin has ranked inside the top 20 in Strokes Gained: Putting seven times since joining the Tour in 2007, topping the category in 2013 and 2017. He’s ranked inside the top 20 in SG: Around the Green three times as well. Folks were noticing.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to beat being a great player on the PGA Tour,” he said this week at the Sony Open. “If you can be a top 50, 60 player on the PGA Tour, you want to do that. Obviously I haven’t done that in the last 10, 12 years, so I pivoted into some other things and found out I was pretty good at delivering good information, and people seem to get better spending time with me around the greens.”
And the Short Game Chef was born. Maybe you’ve heard that name. He’s got a membership website under the moniker now. Pros believe he’s a wedge-and-putter whisperer; you may have read last week, during the Tournament of Champions, that Collin Morikawa called on McLachlin for help. Shoot, fans were even calling him Chef this week at the Sony, where McLachlin was able to gain an entry.
Wild, he says.
“Yeah, that is a bit funny,” McLachlin said. “I’ve been stopped more times than I can imagine in airports and stuff like that. People are, hey, Chef, more than when I was playing on tour and saying, hey, Parker. Yeah, I think my whole — the whole mission statement of Short Game Chef has been to help the amateur modernize the short game. There has been so many conflicting opinions out there, and my goal is to help sort of modernize and take what the players on the PGA Tour are doing and bring it to the amateur game.
“Because I think for a 20-handicapper, the closest they can get to being a PGA Tour player is from inside 30, 40, 50 yards. They’re not going to be able to hit it 350 off the tee, but I can get them to chip it pretty good. If I can get them the right information, to me, that’s where I can get them to improve four, five strokes per round, which is exciting.”
And all of that, especially the idea of “modernization,” nicely segues back to Matsuyama and McLachlin.
Remember, Matsuyama keeps his hands low on the putter, and that led to a discussion of being streaky, and thoughts of being consistent.
“You see most Tour players get their hands a bit more upright and get that shaft right in plane with their forearms,” McLachlin began. “Hideki is one of the few modern players that has his hands low. He can get it to where he can get really hot; he can also be really cold and not really know why. A putt like that — 15, 18 feet — and it looked like it was off line from the start.
“Just one of those things where it’s hard to tell, but I like to look at what all the players are doing, in general, with their short games — putting, chipping, bunker play. What are the modern players doing? Ninety-five percent of the modern players get their shaft in line with their forearm at setup for putting. That’s one of those things where if you look for an outlier, you start to question, is that why he’s maybe a little bit more streaky than others.”
We’ll pause here for you to take a look yourself.
OK, here’s the ending.
“So almost if I were standing behind somebody, as if they were using a belly putter, the shaft is going right up their arm,” PGA Tour Live analyst Ned Michaels said.
“Exactly right,” McLachlin said.