Putt like Michelle Wie, but don't try to mimic her stance

Michelle Wie
USA Today Images
Michelle Wie's unique putting stance works because it feels comfortable to her and she can repeat a smooth putting stroke every time.
By Mark Aumann

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Sunday, June 29, 2014 | 10:27 a.m.

With the advent of super slow-motion replays and instant analysis, amateur golfers love to copy what they see professionals doing on the course. But what works for one golfer isn't necessarily the best option for another.

Take Michelle Wie's unique putting stance, for instance. Wie's spine is nearly parallel to the ground, a chiropractor's dream. But the reason it works for her is because she feels comfortable with her eyes over the ball, and more importantly, she's able to consistently repeat a smooth, accurate putting motion.

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Nicole Weller, PGA head teaching professional at The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga., sees this trend first-hand.

"Tapping into someone else’s creative idea has become more popular with widespread media on television and through digital means," Weller said. "Mondays after tournaments usually bring on many imitators at the practice facilities and courses as they attempt the ideas they saw work for someone else."

There's an obvious reason why everyone has a unique golf swing, Weller said.  

"The club moves based on how a person can or can’t move, which creates their unique motions," she said. "When learning the correct putting stance for that person, the combination of comfort with correctness is the obvious goal."

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So what if you feel comfortable with your current putting stance, but there's a flaw somewhere that's causing you to miss more putts than you make? Weller said don't try to reinvent your stance. Instead, use the practice green to experiment inside your comfort zone so you can develop a repeatable stroke that works for you. 

"Find the place where you 'see' the line the best -- that can be a little different for everyone based on how they stand -- and then allow that to be comfortable," Weller said. "Forcing, grinding or working the putting stroke will most likely result in less feel and touch for speed. Being in a good place emotionally, mentally and physically will make it a lot easier, so I believe comfort trumps all, if the ideas that need to be in place are."

First and foremost, Weller said don't worry so much about the result as getting the process down pat. That's a major issue with amateurs, who have a tendency to obsess over what went wrong rather than what they did right. You don't have to have a perfect pendulum swing as long as you have the putter square at impact -- and more importantly, can repeat that motion every time.

With practice and a positive attitude, the results will come. 

"Instead of focusing on mistakes, focus on the key ingredients that lead to success," Weller said. "Many golfers want to know what they did wrong. The more one thinks of what went wrong, the more the wrongness is still in one’s mind, something to avoid.

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"Why focus on what went wrong? Do you want to do that again or get excited about seeing if you can do what it is you want to do and if you didn’t, do it again until you get what you want?"

Weller said to understand what's happening during your putting stroke, there are tools which can provide instant feedback. In addition, an instructor can provide guidance to help you feel more comfortable when standing over your ball on the green.

"Amateurs can definitely work to be more comfortable, properly aimed and aligned and use feedback tools to learn where the ideal areas are," Weller said. "For example, using an Eyeline Golf Putting Rail and Mirror or a Star Putter will help one know they’re properly lined, have their eyes in the most optimal position for them and have a square putter face at both address and impact." 

In any case, her key tip is to stay task-oriented. Don't try to change everything at once, but take a logical, measured approach to improving your putting game.

"The instructor is your guide, the ball is the ultimate teacher showing a golfer what variables are working," Weller said. "Adjusting to many variables at one time will also create questions on what is working. So work through set-up slowly with an instructor and learn what seems to work best.

"In a nutshell, use training tools for feedback and measurement for consistency, work on a single idea at a time and give it a chance before adjusting and moving on and allow yourself to be in a relaxed, calm and enjoyable state."

You may never be able to replicate Michelle Wie's putting stance, but with practice, there's no reason you can't duplicate her results.



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