I recently spent five days in Seoul doing clinics and
interviews to help educate the Korean people
on my putting philosophy. I
was fortunate to meet several wonderful
people and I look forward to returning in the
A theme that I often referred
to was establishing a neutral setup to the
putter so that it can go where it was
designed to go without thought. This month, I
want to visually reinforce exactly what that
Having a neutral setup means many
things. Let's start with the position of your
hands in relation to your body. Try this simple
test at home.
Stand up and place your hands in a prayer
position where they are even with your center.
I want you to notice the sense of calm you
feel, especially with your eyes closed. Now,
place your hands to the left of center. (Pic 2)
Notice the tension that you feel, especially
in your right side. So when your hands are to
your center when you putt, (Pic 3) all of your
lines are square and you feel that sense of
calm in your chest and arms. Free motion
can flow from this position. It simply cannot
be completely free if you do not start in this
How you walk into the ball can impact your
goal of achieving neutral. In this first picture,
I am standing behind the ball with the
putter in my left hand. All of my energy is
being directed to the left, so I am destined to
be open at setup. Even if I attempt to
square it once over the ball, that energy is
still trying to pull me open and there will be
tension. In the next picture, (Pic 5)
everything is starting much more level and
square. The putter is in my right hand, which
helps me be more neutral. As I carry the
putter in with my right hand and place it in
the middle of my stance, (Pic 6).
My hands then meet in the middle. I am
ready to make a proper stroke with no
Neutral also means the position of your
shoulders and pelvis as they relate to posture.
In the first picture, (Pic 8)
My pelvis is tucked underneath me too
much and therefore my shoulders are rounded.
In the next picture, (Pic 9)
I am trying too hard to have good
posture. My pelvis is arched too much,
creating tension in my lower back and hips.
Neither setup is conducive to making a free
stroke. The easiest way to find a neutral
posture is to start tall and relaxed with your
arms out in front of you and your biceps gently
touching your side.(Pic 10)
From there, simply allow the puttered to
fall until it cannot go any further without you
bending at all. (Pic 11) Picture 11
Finish by gently allowing yourself to bend
from the hips and soften the knees. You are
now in an athletic, yet relaxed posture. (Pic
I want my students to be able to perform
under pressure, whether it be in a friendly
match or in The Masters. I also consider it the
ultimate compliment when a student does not
need to see me all the time to fix them.
When they achieve a fundamentally correct
setup, they never worry about their strokes.
When they get a little bit off, they know how
to fix themselves. Remember, golf is not a
game of positions, it is a game of motion and
flow. FInd your neutral setup and let
yourself putt your best!
Pat O’Brien is the teaching professional at
Lakewood Country Club in Dallas. He’s the short game
instructor to 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson, as
well as PGA Tour players Vaughn Taylor, Colt Knost,
Ted Purdy and numerous o More...