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Jan 09

Putting Stance – Do We Want Glamour or Birdies?

 

Michelle Wie’s New Putting Stance

 

When I saw the golf news about Michelle Wie’s new putting stance, I was reminded of the man being fitted for a new suit, and suffering an endless series of contortions by the tailor so that it would fit. As he walked down the street trying to hold these uncomfortable positions, one onlooker remarked, “oh, that poor man,” while another answered, Yeah, but don’t his suit fit nice?”

Michelle Wie putting stance Wie is again a hot topic for discussion, for the new and imaginative ways she comes up with to address a putt. She’s absolutely clear that making putts and lowering scores trump looking cool in every case. She’s playing for prize money – of course, that’s the way it should be.

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Wie’s stance, however, would be difficult for some of us and downright impossible for others. She is slim and six feet in height, and so her “tabletop” technique, where the two parts of the body form a perfect ninety degree angle (leaving posterior regions in a prominent role, shall we say) is workable – but what if you’re five feet four, overweight, and therefore don’t even have two body parts that can find or hold such an angle?

Where Ponce de Leon pursued the fountain of youth, we club-swinging humans are still doing our bests to get a body of flesh and bones to hold an unshakable position, to maintain an unchanging shape and putting track to get that ball in the hole sooner. In a sense, it’s pondering the imponderable, as the body can move in so many different ways. Still, Wie points to solid statistics that suggest an improvement on the green in recent months, so we know that there are ways.

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I, too, have tried every stance I could think of, and have been all but laughed off the green by friends and head-scratching family members. Most of my changes came from watching the tour. I’ve been through the choking way down idea, the grandfather clock method, the side-saddle croquet technique and the Hunchback of Notre Dame stance, where one simply collapses onto oneself like a pile of rocks until they can’t collapse any farther, hunkering over the ball like a mad scientist.

And then along came Arnie.

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wie putt 2 Palmer introduced the locked knee approach to us, and I still use a form of it to this day. At first, it was the knees meeting at the center, ball directly underneath, but that opened me up to the same inside out or outside in tendencies of my full swing. I played it off of my right foot, and discovered that I can actually shank a putt – don’t bother trying it. It is unlikely that you possess a mere fraction of my gift for shanking – I’m number one.

Today, I stand on my left leg straight up and down, and brace it with my bent right knee. Yes, it means that I can pull it, or overcompensate for that possibility and push it. But, at impact, I only need to concentrate on the follow-through, not ten other things at the same time – simple, that’s what I like, and I, too, have improved…so there, no more snickering.


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There are only a small number of us who would choose looking suave and glamorous over more frequent birdies, at least I think that’s true – people always surprise you. Maybe I had a touch of that in my younger days, but now I’m with Michelle Wie’s way of thinking. If an attractive person like that can put aside the vanity of it for increased efficiency, an old guy like me who isn’t going to attract any attention at all ought to be able to do it.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.