Core Philosophies: They work across all aspects of the game
26 Nov 2010
by Pat O'Brien


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 spring. 

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 means.

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. (Pic 1)

Picture 1

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)

Picture 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 position.

Picture 3

How you walk into the ball can impact your goal of achieving neutral.  In this first picture, (Pic 4)

Picture 4

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).

Picture 5


Picture 6 

My hands then meet in the middle.  I am ready to make a proper stroke with no thought. (Pic7)

Picture 7 

Neutral also means the position of your shoulders and pelvis as they relate to posture.  In the first picture, (Pic 8)

Picture 8

My pelvis is tucked underneath me too much and therefore my shoulders are rounded.  In the next picture, (Pic 9)


Picture 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)

Picture 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 12)

 Picture 12

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!


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