Indeed, for the latest entry in our Drill Bits series, PutterZone.com turned to Pat O’Brien, instructor to Zach Johnson as well as Vaughn Taylor. Who better to consult on the eve of the 2008 Masters?
Drill Bits is currently focusing on “silent killers,” the sneakiest ailments that can wreak havoc on your putting game. One such ailment is poor posture, and O’Brien is at the forefront of preaching proper posture as essential to successful putting.
Over time, it’s easy for any golfer to start falling prey to hunching over the ball when putting, lurching from the waist instead bending at the hips—a posture issue exacerbated by the fact that so many of us spend countless hours hunched over a computer keyboard or steering wheel. This can unwittingly cramp your putting style, causing undiagnosed performance issues and considerable frustration.
For this reason, O’Brien recommends that you learn to bend crisply from the hips, not the waist, to achieve a more athletic putting posture. When we queried him on the subject, he responded:
“Posture to me is one of the key elements to consistent putting. When your lead arm is hanging freely from your side, you can make a natural, arcing stroke. The simplest way to get there is to stand tall and relaxed. Let your hands tell your body where to go—the further they travel, the more you will feel a slight bend from your hips. Picture yourself shaking hands with a small child—your hands tell your body where to go, not vice versa. This is the correct sequence to achieve that athletic but relaxed posture that you see with great putters like Tiger Woods, Vaughn Taylor and Zach Johnson.”
Note that the hip bend recommended by O’Brien isn’t extreme, but rather a slight, comfortable tilt.
In addition to being a teaching professional, O’Brien is also a consultant to SeeMore Putter Company, which recently released a DVD titled Pat O’Brien on Putting. The DVD offers O’Brien’s insights into grip, alignment and setup as well as posture. It can be purchased on SeeMore’s web site, where you can also view in-depth articles featuring O’Brien’s methods.