Ben Crenshaw’s brilliant advice on how to become a great putter
Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.
Ben Crenshaw’s mastery on the greens is the stuff of legends. The soft-spoken Texan learned to putt on the munis of Austin, Texas, and rode those skills to 19 PGA Tour wins and two green jackets. When talking about the best putters of all time, Gentle Ben’s name is one that always comes up.
But while Crenshaw is among the greatest craftsman on the greens, his stroke is not textbook perfect. He used a long, languid motion and tilted his shoulders quite a bit at address. The move is not one you see taught very often, but it sure was effective.
His unique approach to putting is a result of something he was told by legendary instructor Harvey Penick.
“He said, ‘Never try to look like anybody else when you putt,'” Crenshaw said. “And that means that everybody has their own comfort level in the way to get into a putt.”
It can be easy to see someone roll the ball well and feel you need to tweak your mechanics to mimic theirs. But changing up your fundamentals to match another’s might put you in a worse spot than before. It’s important to trust your stroke and the unique mechanics that help you putt your best.
“You’ve seen a million different styles be successful,” Crenshaw said. “And I think that’s what Harvey was getting at. You have to get your own style. No one can tell you how to get in there comfortably.”
The most important part of putting is being comfortable. And it’s imperative that you know your comfort zone and find it each and every time you stand over the ball. Tweaking your mechanics to be “correct” might make for a prettier stroke, but if you can’t get the ball in the hole then it doesn’t matter.
“It’s just simply a matter of comfort,” Crenshaw said.