Brandt Snedeker on life at home, golf’s impending return and tips for better putting
One thing we’re finding out during this coronavirus pandemic is that many PGA Tour pros are just like us. Case in point, PGA Tour veteran Brandt Snedeker.
Forced to balance a new form of home life with his job, the nine-time Tour winner has been juggling home schooling his children, while also trying to keep his game sharp.
Snedeker is consistently one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, and while he’s been home in Tennessee, he hasn’t just been working on his putting, he’s also been helping golfers around the country with their flat sticks.
GOLF.com’s Ryan Asselta recently caught up with Snedeker while at home in Nashville. The 2012 Fed Ex Cup champion talked about how he’s learned “this retirement thing” isn’t really for him, the putting drills he uses at home, and a few keys you can try to roll in more putts.
Asselta: Brandt, you’ve been at home in Nashville and spending time out at your farmhouse. What has this layoff been like for you?
You know, it’s been a weird time. Never thought I’d see this in my lifetime. I’m trying to find the positives in a bad situation. Being home with the kids and trying to homeschool has been a new challenge for me to say to the least.
We head out to the farmhouse pretty much every weekend and get the kids outside. You don’t see anybody for several days, so it’s kind of nice. Plenty of room to run around and let the kids go fishing.
What’s been the toughest part about the layoff for you?
The worst part has been the uncertainty. I’m kind of ready to go back and get on the road and get back to playing golf. I joked with my brother and my dad and told them ‘this retirement thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.’ I’m definitely a guy who needs to be working or doing something.
Lots of reports of what the return to the PGA Tour will look like in June at the Charles Schwab Challenge. One idea is that flag sticks could be left in at all times. How would you feel about that?
I’ve always been a flagstick out guy. I don’t do well with the flagstick in. For some reason it kind of throws off my vision a little bit. I’ll have to wash my hands real clean after the round or carry sanitizer and use it every few holes and make sure you’re not putting your fingers on your face. It’s gonna be a necessary risk we’re going to have to take. I can’t see us playing with the pins in all day long.
Speaking of putting … you partnered up with one of your sponsors to give golfers some putting tips that they can use at home or at their own courses, correct?
Yeah, Wyndham’s been a partner of mine going on 12, 13 years now. They were my first sponsor ever out on Tour. Former CEO Steve Holmes is one of my best friends in the world and it’s fun to partner with them and give Club Wyndham owners a few tips during this downtime at home.
Obviously, I putt a little bit differently than most people. The pop stroke is not something you teach readily, but I kind of have some general thoughts on what I think good putting looks like. Even though my stroke is a little unorthodox I guess I still do a lot of the same things many of the great putters do.
You’ve ranked inside the top 25 in Strokes Gained: Putting on the PGA Tour for six consecutive seasons. What’s your biggest key to putting?
I’d say I do it a little differently, right? So, I’ve got two or three things that I always focus on when my stroke gets off.
One is to check if my stroke gets too slow. If it gets too slow, I start putting a lot of hit into the ball and when I do that my right hand gets involved too much and it breaks down. So, I’ve got to make sure my rhythm stays fast.
Number two is that I’ve got to make sure I hinge the putter going back. Kind of counterproductive to what most people think. Most people try and keep it locked in like Steve Stricker or Loren Roberts or somebody who only has shoulder movement. I can’t putt like that. I’ve got to have a little bit of hinge in the putter going back so that when I do hit it, I release that energy to the ball.
And the third thing … I work on all of the time is the arc of my stroke. My stroke is so short that if it gets too much arc, I start missing short putts. I have a laser I use and some chalk I use to keep my stroke straight back and straight through.
So those are the keys that you work on. Can you give us three tips that a recreational golfer can use at home?
Probably the easiest thing that people do the opposite of, is that your back stroke has to be longer than their follow through. That’s the number one thing I see in all bad putters. Their stroke goes back too short and they’ve got to put a ton of hit into it and their follow through is too long. If you look at every great putter throughout the course of history … look at Brad Faxon’s follow through. It was two inches shorter than his back stroke. Ben Crenshaw is probably my favorite example. He had a big long, sweeping, beautiful back stroke and barely a follow through.
Number two is something that is really easy to do. When you take a practice stroke, make sure you’re practicing the putt you’re getting ready to hit. Most amateurs take this big, long practice stroke for a two-footer. Or they’ll have a forty-footer and take this little tiny practice stroke. I try and imagine that there’s a ball down when I take a practice stroke. When you see me, I take five practice strokes for every putt. All I’m trying to do is figure out how hard to hit the ball. It’s a way to take the pressure off and kind of get your nerves out.
And the third thing is really easy. Have the putter shaft line right up your forearm. Have the putter almost too upright on the ground so the putter face doesn’t arc or open or close too much. Those are three things every great putter does, and you can do at home by looking in a mirror and figuring out pretty quick.
How about a drill. What’s the one drill someone who’s stuck at home right now can use during this time?
Easiest thing to do is to take another club or a broom and put it straight down on the ground and putt right next to it. Make sure that your stroke is not going too much off that straight line. It’s really simple and something I do all the time at home. Put a club down on along the heel or the toe of your putter and make sure it stays really close to that for five-, six-foot putts. It’s a great visual to make sure your putter is not arching too much. Hit 40 putts a day like that. It’s so easy to do and doesn’t cost any money and you can do it at your house. It’s something I do all of the time.
How about the mental side of putting. What is the key mindset that a good putter has to have?
Think that they’re going to go in. It might now go in on this one. It might not be the next one, but once the first one goes in, we’ll make a lot a row. I tell people all the time, I never get over a putt trying to make it. I get up over every putt trying to give it a chance of going in. I don’t get up there and try to hit the perfect putt.
I kind of see a wide track that a putt can travel on to go in the hole. I can be on the low side of that track and still make it and the high side of that putt and still make it. I see so many people get so enamored with one line to make the putt and if it doesn’t start on that line you have no chance of making it. Whereas, I see a huge track and give myself a lot of leeway. You don’t have to be perfect.