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"The Art of Putting" by Stan Utley

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One other point I think is worth making, and this is just on the topic of trying to learn Utley's technique from books, and this is strictly my opinion, is that he does stuff that he really doesn't go into, but he just does it. For instance, basically he doesn't really use his wrists at all, for putting or chipping or pitching. Now, sure, there's a little lag that he'll use them for on long putts, but If you watch his videos closely you'll see that he maintains the wrist angle through impact, and really throughout the swing, and mostly just using his forearms and upper arms in putting (rotating and swinging them) the way I described previously -- shoulders used as pivot points but not rotating around the spine at all (he only does that on really long putts). Same with chips and pitches... no wrists. The problem is he'll say other things in his books and videos that can throw you off and make you think that he advocates "wristiness" and or "looseness". Well, he's definitely not wristy and definitely not loose, despite what he says, imo. His constant emphasis of low pressure and tension, and even alowing wristiness in drills he demonstrates can be very misleading. Look at the video that he sinks a gaggle of long putts in a row..



There's absolutely no wrists use at all and no upper body movement.

What I've done recently is use his basic techniques but with much much much more grip pressure (i.e. death grip), and much more overall tension in the hands and arms (locked), then he advocates, and has found this to be very complimentary learning tool for ingraining his movements and techniques. Of course this is connected to my tip-anti tip theory, but I've annoyed enough people with that one lately...

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I watched that video, and after watching I do not think I like his stroke very much. Though I do agree with the arc putting method (Inside, down the line, inside). I really have a problem not using a lot of shoulder. If you look at many pros, most of them use a lot of shoulder in their putting strokes and are still able to use a modern stroke such as the arc method. I feel comfortable using my shoulders rather than using a lot of fore arm and wrist. I do like his ideal about gaining feel by using a lot of your finger tips in the grip.

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I watched that video, and after watching I do not think I like his stroke very much. Though I do agree with the arc putting method (Inside, down the line, inside). I really have a problem not using a lot of shoulder. If you look at many pros, most of them use a lot of shoulder in their putting strokes and are still able to use a modern stroke such as the arc method. I feel comfortable using my shoulders rather than using a lot of fore arm and wrist. I do like his ideal about gaining feel by using a lot of your finger tips in the grip.

In that Eyeline video I think he really emphasises the movement(don't know what you want to call it.. call it "elbow slide" or "forearm rotation" for lack of better terms), but he'll look different on other videos. Utley doesn't ever want you to

not turn your shoulders. He just offers this additional move (the elbow slide forearm rotation), and suggests that the stroke be a "flow" of several of these elements. He also says "it's never all of anything". He doesn't even preclude certain types of wrist use. The interesting thing about this movement (the elbow slide /forearm rotate one, that is) is it will often actually look to the casual observer like they are turning their shoulders, and they are using the shoulders and even turning them some on the longer putts, but there's usually less turning then what appears to be happening. Here is sergio doing it (he's a recent Utley disciple, and many will now credit Utley with saving his career)... http://www.break.com/usercontent/200...t-1402975.html Yeah that's the same stroke. He's been working with Utley for a while. His putting was resurrected. Here's another one (1/3rd of the way in).... And here is mike weir doing it (he learned it from stan as well, and won the Masters with it)... So you could say that Utley's stroke won the Masters (via Mike Weir of course). Search for any Weir putting vid, or any of the recent (last year or so) Garcia putting vid, or Jacobsen, Haas, Cink.. etc. and you'll see this stroke. Its now a very large list of top monymaking pros that use this stroke now, or have incorporated significant elements of it into their stroke. In fact, so many top guys study with him directly now, he has just become one of the top 10 golf instructors in the world ( according to golf digest).

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I played a few weeks ago and couldn't putt to save my life. After this happens a few times in a row, I wander back to check my grip and stroke. It's also frustrating to have two birdie opportunities of under 5' and put bad strokes on the ball in the attempt. My grip had migrated, so I fixed that, re-read this book, and went to work on the putting green.

But I noticed something in the re-read: his suggested specs for the putter. I stood rather far from my putts, and I think that may have accounted for my inconsistency (to put it nicely). So I took my then-current and then-old putters in to the golf shop to get the specs measured. They were both 71° lie angle and 3° loft. I asked if I could get the old one bent to 68/5, to see if I like it. Had it bent, went to the putting green, and sank plenty. Got it re-gripped, been putting with it, goes great. Tomorrow I'll see if it holds out on the course.

The problem is that I like the other putter better, but its loft and lie can't be adjusted. I even asked the manufacturer, and they said the lie angle can be adjusted with a $20 add-on, but the loft is set. Sooo... unless this is a disaster, I'll be using the putter I like less, but that has the right specs, for a while, until I decide what else to do. There's a Nike putter at the nearby golf shop at $50, and the GolfSmith a little farther away has a $100 Mizuno Bettinardi Black Carbon putter. Or maybe I'll grow to love this putter.


This is going somewhere, because I'm wondering: has anyone else adjusted their putters based on the Utley specs? I purchased both of my putters used, so it's not as though I was fit for them. Maybe if I decide to replace it, I will get fit for one. Previously, I was just trying to incorporate the grip and stroke into a putter that I now know didn't fit.

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I played a few weeks ago and couldn't putt to save my life. After this happens a few times in a row, I wander back to check my grip and stroke. It's also frustrating to have two birdie opportunities of under 5' and put bad strokes on the ball in the attempt. My grip had migrated, so I fixed that, re-read this book, and went to work on the putting green.

Shindig - I actually had the loft and lie adjusted on one of my previous Scotty's after reading this book. I really felt that I was putting a better stroke therefore hitting the ball on the sweet spot more consistently. The problem I had was that I wasn't used to hitting the sweet spot and my distance control was all over the place. I wish I gave it more of a chance. The standard Scotty spec is 71 degree lie and 4 degree loft. I'm definitely thinking about changing the lie on my current Scotty, but not sure if I want to adjust the loft much if any because there is a big difference in loft between 4 to 5 and I think a pretty good forward press is needed to compliment the added loft and my forward press is minimal.

Where did you get your loft and lie adjusted? When I did mine, I took it to Dick's and the guy really didn't know what he was doing and was a little rough with it. There is a smaller golf store by me (Plaza Golf in Torrance) that has a Scotty adjustment machine, but they ask for a couple days to turn it around as it's the owner's machine and he has it at his house.

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... I asked if I could get the old one bent to 68/5, to see if I like it. Had it bent, went to the putting green, and sank plenty. Got it re-gripped, been putting with it, goes great. ... Tomorrow I'll see if it holds out on the course.

Right now I would say that if you 'sank plenty' then you should use that putter. Don't worry about what "you like" so much.. worry about 'what works'.

I was in love with the idea of using either an original wilson or original ping anser, but I ended up giving up on that, after buying about a dozen 8802s and other assorted relics.. I finall got an Odyssey 882, which is based on the 8802 but much bigger sweet spot. This decision to switch was purely based on performance. It just worked better. (It's also a shorter putter than my other ones which im sure is a factor as well but that's another point.) Take all your putters out and have a putting contest with yourself. And take a look at your mishits. If you tend to hit it more solid with a putter than use it and forget asthetics. I also think you should get away from utleys books and rely more on his videos on the web.. I think you'll learn more from them. I know I did. Utley says himself he was told as a kid not to read golf books and not to use training aids!!

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Where did you get your loft and lie adjusted? When I did mine, I took it to Dick's and the guy really didn't know what he was doing and was a little rough with it. There is a smaller golf store by me (Plaza Golf in Torrance) that has a Scotty adjustment machine, but they ask for a couple days to turn it around as it's the owner's machine and he has it at his house.

I took mine to the Roger Dunn in West LA (just south of Santa Monica and Bundy). I happened to wander in while the guy was on break, so I opted to not interrupt his break and instead to look through the products in the store. He got back from his break, adjusted my putter, and I went on my way.

Right now I would say that if you 'sank plenty' then you should use that putter. Don't worry about what "you like" so much.. worry about 'what works'.

Now that I think about it, what I like is sinking putts. So that's where I'm going.

I also think you should get away from utleys books and rely more on his videos on the web.. I think you'll learn more from them. I know I did. Utley says himself he was told as a kid not to read golf books and not to use training aids!!

I'll take a look around and see what he has. It would be great to see him in action, too, rather than the words.

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One other point I think is worth making, and this is just on the topic of trying to learn Utley's technique from books, and this is strictly my opinion, is that he does stuff that he really doesn't go into, but he just does it. For instance, basically he doesn't really use his wrists at all, for putting or chipping or pitching. Now, sure, there's a little lag that he'll use them for on long putts, but If you watch his videos closely you'll see that he maintains the wrist angle through impact, and really throughout the swing, and mostly just using his forearms and upper arms in putting (rotating and swinging them) the way I described previously -- shoulders used as pivot points but not rotating around the spine at all (he only does that on really long putts). Same with chips and pitches... no wrists. The problem is he'll say other things in his books and videos that can throw you off and make you think that he advocates "wristiness" and or "looseness". Well, he's definitely not wristy and definitely not loose, despite what he says, imo. His constant emphasis of low pressure and tension, and even alowing wristiness in drills he demonstrates can be very misleading.

Nice post. I've just read his book and watched a few YouTube videos and agree that he sometimes doesn't teach exactly what he does, at least sometimes I get slightly the "wrong" idea. Maybe I just need to study his method more (which I will do). So I'm absolutely agreeing that there's almost no wristiness involved in his action, yet sometimes it sounds/reads otherwise. Certainly his video shows essentially no wrist. I think what's happening is that he's also trying to get people like me, who have what he considers much too stiff of an action, to lighten up a lot and feel the joints - not lock them with SuperGlue. That is why he sometimes sounds like he's advocating wristiness in a way - it's all about getting the right feel.

Stan is very much a "feel" sort of guy, which I like about him because I'm still trying to add more and more feel to my whole game. It's the oppositive of the robotic, 25-step approach to teaching the game, the one that's all about getting into certain positions going back and coming through. I spent years working that way but am much more interested in 'feel' now. Maybe there's hope for my putting yet. I'm not kidding when I say I left 5-7 strokes on the course last time. GIR followed by 3 putting ====> frustration.

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One other point I think is worth making, and this is just on the topic of trying to learn Utley's technique from books, and this is strictly my opinion, is that he does stuff that he really doesn't go into, but he just does it. For instance, basically he doesn't really use his wrists at all, for putting or chipping or pitching. Now, sure, there's a little lag that he'll use them for on long putts, but If you watch his videos closely you'll see that he maintains the wrist angle through impact, and really throughout the swing, and mostly just using his forearms and upper arms in putting (rotating and swinging them) the way I described previously --

That part in bold is what had me stumped. I couldn't putt consistently at all.

In the end I also took his basic concepts and tweaked them a bit. I use the grip he advocates but with slightly more pressure and his stance. But I'm more forearm than shoulder movement.

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I walked with Stan Utley's group on the course at Pebble last Sunday, last day of the Callaway Invitational. He was with 3 amateurs, that's the format. They were playing the 1st as their tenth hole, I introduced myself to him after he hit a nice drive into middle fairway (dogleg right, not long) and before getting in the cart. I said I'd just bought his book and was hoping it would help my putting on that course on Tues and at Spyglass on Mon and it needed it [it didn't help, I stank on the greens both days .....]. He was very personable indeed, I felt a bit awkward but the official walking with the group encouraged me to tag along. It's the one event in the year you can do that - I had no idea until I stumbled in.

I also said to Mr Utley that I agreed with his inside-out-in curve approach, always have, and was working on much softer hands and more feel as per the book, and the right elbow thing. I demonstrated a couple quick "air" putts to him right there in front of the pro shop, I mean what the hey ..... He smiled and said that was OK but that my arms were much too stiff - HA HA!! I said, yes I know, I learned to putt watching Nicklaus and it's gonna be very very hard to unlock that triangle.

Here's what happened: Stan then hit GIR and birdied the first. Missed the green with a 3W on the par 5 2nd, chipped on and missed the birdie putt (slippery 8 footer IIRC) for par. Perfect drive on the 4th right of the 2 trees (dogleg left par 4), good approach and made the birdie putt. He hit every drive from the tips accurately but not particularly long, his whole game is very controlled and tight. I saw nothing but crisp contact and accurate, intelligent play - a real sharpshooter.

That's as far as I walked with those guys. I then followed some pros on the 17th tee and walked with them through the 18th - I was getting cold wearing a short-sleeved shirt (not expecting to be walking the course at all that day, only originally walking a short distance from the room to the Pro Shop ....).

Mr. Utley was extremely pleasant to me and to the 3 amateurs who were having a rather mixed experience it seemed (some rain on the front 9, still cool on the back), though one guy hit his hybrid all of 250 yards and onto the green as his 2nd shot on the par 5 2nd - and into the group ahead who were still putting out!! oops .... He was slightly embarassed and said his normal hybrid distance is 210-220 - he thought he'd be way short. Utley, who played his 3W after the amateur hit his career 3-hybrid, joked that "the pressure's really on me now, standing here with a 3W". He also said something else pleasant to make the amateur feel good about his shot, which really was something remarkable. The amateur did win the hole (the pros were playing natural or whatever it's called) but somehow his team didn't get that many points for it - complex scoring system for Team A and Team B - the pros used strokeplay. Don't ask me about the scoring ....

As you can see I was very impressed by Utley the man, as well as Utley the putter and Utley the golfer. Thank you Stanley for making my arrival at Pebble Beach so pleasant and memorable. All the while my wife was already snoozing in the room a short distance away, just off the practice green ..... heaven!

But I still gots my doubts about the wrist thing ..... actually, as said in an earlier post and as I saw myself first hand watching intently for it, Utley does NOT use a lot of wrist. It's almost imperceptible. But he is very soft with the arms and hands and has much less shoulder action than I use or think I can handle.

What a gentleman.

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I meant to write, "Perfect drive on the 3rd right of the 2 trees (dogleg left par 4), etc etc".

BTW, in my group on Tues, a large, muscular fellow (possible pro athlete?) - very big driver of the ball and good all around player besides - lined up for the direct shot at the green over the 2 trees on the 3rd. He hit a pure and massive drive that easily cleared said obstance and landed a half-SW distance from the green, totally ignoring the dog-leg. I have never seen as aggressive and successful a drive as that. I think he made birdie.

He was also a good putter but not in the Utley style.

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Just bought this book 2 days ago and have been going through it and trying out Utleys approach to putting.  My golf club has excellent indoor putting facilities and I have been trying out my new found stroke there.  Too my amazement my short putts are finding the hole and speed control in longer putts is much better, but mostly I am working on putting with one hand and getting the right sound at contact.  But so far very impressed, would give this book 4,5 out of 5.

Before this book I had purchased and read Pelz Putting bible and Rotellas Putting out of your mind.  Rotellas book I highly reccomend and some of the things Rotella emphasizes are echoed in Utleys book.  I have since I bought Pelz's Bible been trying to get some consistency through SBST style putting and well as many of you who have gone down that path had little to show for it.  Some days my putting would be ok, almost excellent but too many times I would struggle with short putts and also speed on longer putts.  Lacking consistency I think mostly was contributed to my shoulder rocking stroke (trying in vain to track my putter straight back and through) and inconsistent contact. I somehow thought that SBST was the way to go with putting, now its out the door for me at least.  My wife who is also a golfer is not convinced.

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I just finished reading this book last night.  It is a quick and easy read, I enjoyed Stan's conversational tone.  I've tried the new grip out a couple of times now and I do like it.  I've been an SBST putter for so long that I'm struggling a little with the stroke, but I spent about an hour on the putting green last night and it's starting to come around.  Utley's approach is not nearly as exhaustive as Pelz's but he still makes a pretty convincing argument.  The shoulder turn feels more natural than the shoulder tilt required by SBST, I can see where it will hold up better under pressure.

I also like how he de-emphasizes making putts, taking a more laissez-faire attitude.  Make a good read, make a good stroke, and what happens happens.  I think that could relieve a lot of internal angst: now to see if I can actually do it!

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