What’s wrong with Scottie Scheffler’s putting? It’s complicated

scottie scheffler marks a putt during the 2024 genesis invitational

Scottie Scheffler is the best golfer in the world from tee to green. Once he gets to the putting surface, things start to get messy.

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PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Scottie Scheffler is the best player in golf from tee to green. He leads the Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green. He did last year, too. On the hundreds of yards of turf between the tee box and the putting surface, he’s damn near invincible.

Once he grabs the putter, though, that invincibility crumbles.

Take Scheffler’s second round at the Genesis Invitational, for example. He shot a one-under 70, his 17th consecutive under par round to start the season. He made two birdies and an eagle — but only one of those dropped into the cup off the face of his putter. He holed out twice (Nos. 5 and 11), once for birdie and once for eagle, and made just a single birdie putt. The length on that make was 4 feet.

“Putting is such a weird thing,” Scheffler said last summer. “Sometimes when you feel good you feel like you’re never going to miss, and then sometimes when you feel terrible you feel like you’re never going to make.”

At Riviera, Scheffler must feel the latter. With 13 of those clubs in his bag, he’s made a complicated game look elementary. His flatstick has been the only holdout.

Early in the week, Scheffler took up residence on the putting green in the shadows of Riv’s Spanish-style clubhouse. His caddie, Ted Scott, was by his side, along with equipment reps holding a collection of putters. Putting guru Phil Kenyon made some appearances as well.

The returns through 36 holes have been uninspiring. Scheffler ranks 68th (in a field of 70) in SG: Putting, and his body language on the greens has been dismal. And who can blame him? He’s missed three putts inside five feet this week, pushing his total to 10 such misses on the season. After one missed shorty, he couldn’t contain his frustrations any longer and chucked his ball into the woods as he walked off the green.

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There’s an old saying that applies here: putting is more art than science. Watching Scheffler, though, is a reminder that art can drive even the geniuses mad. Michelangelo drove a hammer through his Pieta; Scheffler crow-hopped his ProV1 into the bushes.

Don’t blame his struggles on a lack of effort, though. There may be no player in the field this week who has spent more time rolling putts than Scheffler. After Thursday’s opening round, he stayed on the putting green until after dusk, a lone flood light illuminating his grind session.

For much of last season, Scheffler seemed to be in denial about his putting woes. Anytime the topic came up, he did his best to avoid the question, suggesting his ineptitude on the greens was a media-driven narrative.

“I think that most of what has to happen is something has to be created into a story, and for a while it didn’t really seem like there was much of a story behind the way I play golf,” Scheffler said at the Open last summer. “But I think I had back-to-back tournaments that I could have won where I putted poorly, and all of a sudden it became this thing where, like, I’ll watch highlights of my round, and even the announcers, any time you step over the putt it’s like, well, this is the part of the game he struggles with … It’s one of those deals where I don’t pay attention to it.”

After the conclusion of the Tour Championship, he could deny it no longer — the putting was a weakness. Prior to the Ryder Cup, he enlisted the help of Kenyon. The duo worked together to refine his technique and adjust his setup. He also added a larger SuperStroke grip and tinkered with a few different putters. The results have been promising.

Scheffler ranks 107th on Tour in SG: Putting — a vast improvement from last season when he lost 0.301 strokes per round on the greens, ranking 162nd among his peers. This year he’s losing “only” 0.134 strokes per round.

“The ball coming off my blade right now feels really good,” he said at Pebble Beach. “Right now, I’m treating it more like I would my full swing where I’m trying to hit good putts and not really worrying about whether or not the ball is going to go in the hole.”

Truth be told, he is hitting solid putts. This isn’t a man struggling with the yips. The stroke is smooth and the ball rolls end over end on its journey toward the hole. He just can’t seem to get many to drop, only adding to the mystery — and the intrigue.

He may say the putting troubles haven’t affected his psyche, but his body language suggests a different story. When his 11-foot birdie try caught a lip and spun out of the cup on the 17th green, he flipped his putter upside down and smacked the grip end off his cleats. Golf can have that effect on people — even the top-ranked player in the world.

After signing his scorecard and eating lunch, Scheffler once again walked to the putting green, hoping to find the answers he so desperately craves.

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.