The putting tweak that led to Billy Horschel’s biggest career payday

When it comes to swing fixes, there are game-changers and there are life-changers.

A game-changer could be turning your slice into a more gentle fade, cleaning up your contact to become a better iron player, or even figuring out how to fix those pesky chunked chips. It could mean knocking your average score down a couple strokes, or feeling more confident standing over the ball.

A life-changer, on the other hand, could be realizing a shoulder injury has been hurting your ability to turn, your clubs are too short, or your mindset around the greens has been causing you to miss three-footers. These changes often mean only a subtle adjustment in your score, but a massive shift in your game’s outlook.

In 2014, Billy Horschel was the beneficiary of a life-changing swing fix that turned a solid, if unspectacular PGA Tour season into a FedEx Cup win. That year, the former Florida Gator turned in finishes of 2nd, 1st and 1st in the FedEx Cup playoffs en route to more than $13,000,000 in winnings.

On this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar podcast, Horschel told hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz about the putting fix that changed the course of his professional career (and his life).

“I hadn’t putted well all year, I’d hit the ball beautifully all year, but I just hadn’t putted well,” Horschel said. “I’m playing a practice round on Wednesday and I’m hitting some putts before I go out. My teacher Todd Anderson is watching me and it’s not looking great.”

Horschel continued putting, without improving, when suddenly Anderson had an idea.

“He says, hey, do this with your grip,” Horschel said. “Get your right hand more on top, it’s a little bit too much under the putter grip. Got a little bit more on top, so from there then my left hand had to get a little bit longer. It allowed me to feel like the load of the putter was loading, and I could feel the head a little bit better.”

Immediately, Horschel noticed a difference. But it wasn’t until he played in his first round at the Deutsche Bank Championship that he was fully sold.

“I hit like 10 putts on the putting green and it was awesome, went out and practiced, felt good in the pro-am,” he said. “But I made two good putts on the first round on 17 and 18 from about 7 to 10 feet on both holes, one was a left-to-righter, one was a right-to-lefter and I made those putts. I was like, ‘I’m good, I’m locked in for this week.'”

Horschel was off to the races. After a runner-up finish at the Deutsche Bank, he won handily at the BMW Championship. A week later, he won the Tour Championship and with it, the FedEx Cup.

“That was all I needed,” Horschel said. “I just needed a little bit a confidence. You give me a little bit of confidence and I’m going to run to the finish line with it.”

To hear the rest of Horschel’s Subpar interview, including the details of his Walker Cup battles with Rory McIlroy, check out the video below.

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a broad range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow, during which time he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from.