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Lesson Learned: Making Pressure Putts Like Patrick Cantlay

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Patrick Cantlay of the United States lines up a putt on the 17th green during a playoff during the final round of the BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club on August 29, 2021 in Owings Mills, Maryland. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Patrick Cantlay’s performance at the BMW Championship was one Captain Steve Stricker surely watched. With the win, he jumped five places and secured a spot on the US team for Whistling Straits next month. Cantlay proved he can putt and left no doubt he can putt under pressure. With tournament saving putts on the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes of the final round Cantlay captured a spot in a playoff with Bryson DeChambeau.
As we all watched Bryson and Patrick match each other with terrific shots, the big difference was Cantlay holed the winning putt when he had the chance. His stroke is simple, his putter is short, and his focus is unflappable. PGA Coaches fit golfers for putters every day. Patrick Cantlay stands six feet tall and uses a 33” length putter. Although that sounds short by most standards, it allows Cantlay to let his arms hang freely.  
When you watch Patrick Cantlay putt, his flat stick looks like an extension of his arms. Not by coincidence, Bryson DeChambeau’s putter has the same exact look. Have a playing partner take a video of you putting. Does your putter shaft go right up through your forearms when you look down the target line? If it doesn’t, it’s time to see a PGA Coach for a putter fitting.
Getting the shaft to be in line with your forearms is crucial to hitting solid and square putts on your intended line. First step, make sure the putter length and lie are matched to your build, the next step is to mirror Cantlay’s stroke.
The simple key to Patrick’s putting happens when you watch the grip end of the putter. Watch Cantlay’s stroke in this post. Notice how the putter head and handle stay in a straight line and both arrive at the ball simultaneously.
Now it’s time for you to create the same exact feeling. For this demonstration, you will need an alignment stick and a friend. Place a ball on the practice putting green about ten feet from the hole. Have your friend squat down directly in front of you. They should hold the alignment stick above the ball at the same height as your hands. The stick should be pointing toward you and lightly touching the back of your lead hand.
Perform your normal stroke and hit the putt. Did you hit the ball first, the stick first or both at the same time? The goal is to strike the ball at the same time you feel the back of your hand hit the stick.  If you do, then you look like Patrick’s stroke.
Many of you will feel impact with the ball first. This means the putter head is outracing the grip end of the putter. Ask your friend to hold the stick there a little longer. Practice hitting putts where you feel the back of your hand hit the stick. You’ll be swinging the handle more aggressively, which is very good. This motion will promote better contact and speed control over time.
Every couple of practice putts have your friend pull the stick away and see if you repeat the correct motion. Patrick made 41 of 41 putts inside five feet at the BMW Championship. Commit to swinging the handle of your putter instead of just the clubhead and you can attain that level of Cantlay consistency on the greens.

Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders provide him with a unique perspective on the game. He's a writer on PGA.com and host of the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoons at 3:00pm EDT. Check out his PGA Coaching articles archived here or his conversations on air with this link to his website The ProShow.

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