The biggest key to putting, according to a world-renowned short-game coach
Stan Utley is known as one of the sharpest minds in golf when it comes to putting. He’s written a book on the skill — The Art of Putting — and he also owns the PGA Tour record for fewest putts over nine holes with six.
Now that his playing days are over, Utley’s career second act has been dedicated to teaching as he’s become a renowned coach in the game, particularly when it comes to putting. The list of pupils he’s coached includes Sergio Garcia, Inbee Park and, recently, Charles Barkley.
With Barkley playing in next week’s American Century Championship, Utley spoke with the media to field questions regarding his teaching philosophies and thoughts on the game. The most intriguing segment came when he shared some words on the keys to putting.
“The number one thing that I would share about hitting a putt is the stroke swing is on a pendulum that’s tilted,” Utley said. “You need to let the club swing freely from your arm joints. You don’t body move the putter, in my opinion. You use your joints to swing the club in sequence.”
Utley continued saying that the putter needs the same amount of energy on the backswing and the follow through. However, because the ball is struck on the follow through, your stroke will be shorter than on the backswing.
“If you use the same energy back and through,” he said. “The ball will slow the club down and the follow through is going to be shorter.”
Another critical component to the stroke according to Utley is that your putter should never go on a straight line, because the club is hanging on a tilt. The only time the putterface should be square is at the moment of impact.
“It’s square to the arc and square to your intended line,” he said. “But that’s the only time it would be square.”