Kevin Kisner, and why it may look like he’s ‘going to the bathroom’ when he putts

Kevin Kisner

Kevin Kisner last March during the WGC Match Play event.

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Kevin Kisner has heard the whispers. But he just shrugs. 

After all, he knows the alternative.

“Everybody talks s**t about how I look like I’m going to the bathroom or something,” Kisner said, “but I’m like, OK, well, come try to push me over — I’m not going to fall over like some people I look at on Tour.”

Kisner was talking on a recent episode of the Smylie Show podcast, days after the longtime pro debuted as an NBC golf analyst. Where, yes, he analyzed. He was no shrinking violet. And maybe his most notable words came when the subject turned to putting, where he’s had some success. During the 2021-22 PGA Tour season, he ranked ninth in Strokes Gained: Putting. During 2019-20, he was 15th. 

So he commented. On a 3-footer that Jordan Spieth measured for just under a minute, Kisner implored him to “just knock it in, bud.” While watching Scottie Scheffler putt, Kisner thought that his shoulders were open in comparison to his legs during his stroke — and could be an explanation as to why the world No. 1 has struggled.    

But what about Kisner’s setup, though? On the podcast, it led to a conversation.

And the bathroom thing. 

Host Smylie Kaufman started the talk. A day earlier, he’d played a round with Kisner. 

His stability struck him.

“One of the things I don’t think you’re confused at all about is your putting, and probably after watching me putt, you probably feel the same way,” Kaufman said on the podcast. “I feel like we both see putting from a similar angle, which is very stable, but even yesterday, when I was watching you, I just felt — like, I could watch you putt all day and I’d just continue to learn how to properly set up to a putter because all your lines are just absolutely perfect.” 

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“Yeah, I said it on the broadcast yesterday,” Kisner said, “I was talking about Scottie Scheffler’s setup.” 

For the next minute, Kisner then talked about his. If you watch it, his back tilts forward. His knees slightly bend, then lock in position. He putts. Outside of the stroke, little moves. He practices it all with a device called Chango Paws, a half ball connected to a strap that attaches to your shoe and helps strengthen balance.  

And why?

“Putting is the only thing that’s not dynamic in golf,” Kisner said on the podcast. “Like, we’re not moving anything other than our core and our T-spine basically. Our arms are just basically along for the ride. … Everybody says you’re rocking your shoulders, but are you really rocking your shoulders? I can’t really rotate a shoulder. I don’t really understand that whole deal. But I can turn a core around my spine or I can turn a T-spine. 

“So it’s not dynamic. If I get in the same setup and I get in the most stable spot I can possibly get — I describe to people like if you’re playing shortstop or something. You watch every shortstop in the major leagues, they all stand there the same way when the ball is about to be pitched. They’re down, they’re ready, they’re stable, so they can move. So I’m always trying to get as athletic or stable as possible. 

“Everybody talks s**t about how I look like I’m going to the bathroom or something, but I’m like, OK, well, come try to push me over — I’m not going to fall over like some people I look at on Tour. So if I’m not going to do anything dynamic, I’m going to get as stable as possible and just try to move the least amount of s**t as possible.”

Is there value in stability in putting? Absolutely. Should you align properly? Totally, Is it worth trying? For sure. Should you make it comfortable for your game? Definitely. Below, is a clip of Kisner.

On the podcast, he also notably had a tip for the yips. 

During the round with Kaufman, they also played with Curt Byrum, and Kisner suggested this to him:

Release a few fingers from the grip. 

“Yeah, every time I see people that are yippy, it’s always grip pressure — the grip pressure changes in the stroke,” Kisner said on the podcast. “So I always just tell people to take every finger off but the ring and the middle and try and put those on the grip. You can use your palms still. But you can really get a feel for what has to move the putter when you’re not really holding onto it. Like I got to get some momentum from somewhere other than my hands. 

“You just start feeling like your stomach and your back start doing it instead of your hands.”

Editor’s note: To listen to the entire podcast with Kisner, please click here.   

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