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Jimmy Walker: The Putting Stroke of the Future?

I turned on Golf Central to see if I could get some recap shots of Jimmy Walker’s swing, and as I watched the replay on DVR I listened to Aaron Oberholser describe Walker’s putting as being about as good as it gets, putting him up there with Tiger Woods as far as set-up and stroke. I work with quite a few good players and am always trying to learn more about what makes a great putting style, so I went back and pulled a bunch of Walker’s putts from the network telecast in order to watch them more closely. What I found simply astounded me: Walker shifts his weight from right to left on every putt! And it’s not even subtle. In fact, it’s obvious when you take the time to watch and don’t get mesmerized by the fact that most of the putts are going in. I don’t believe you would find a single golf instructor who would advocate such body movement in a putting stroke, but here it is totally apparent in the stroke of the hottest player on the Tour. It would be interesting enough even without Oberholser’s commentary, but the fact that he completely whiffed on this is not at all surprising. TV guys know what they know, and when a player is successful they explain it in their usual terms as that validates what they think they know. When the player is failing the same rule applies: he or she is doing something that is counter to the conventional wisdom of the commentator (see Tiger Woods and his “dipping” head, and Rory McIlroy’s “beautiful swing” which dips as much or more than Tiger’s). Walker is winning and making everything: of course his stroke is “perfect”. However, the reality is that it’s not, at least if you believe a century of golf instruction from teachers and great players alike.
 

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13 Responses to Jimmy Walker: The Putting Stroke of the Future?

  1. john greyston February 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

    Bob Rotella in his book Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect tells of how Brad Faxon heard that Ben Crenshaw would intentionally move his head and knees when practice putting.Crenshaw felt it freed up the stroke.
    I would argue that a little weight shift helps your rhythm from chipping to driving. The more a golfer tries to keep the head and body still the more likely you are to snatch
    in the takeaway.

  2. Mark Osborn February 6, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

    Is that you, Neeson? You could of come up with a more convincing pseudonym.

  3. John Neeson February 7, 2015 at 1:12 am #

    I don’t think it’s the putting stroke of the future. It’s the Jimmy Walker stroke of the now. And it might be gone in six months. I agree with my alter-ego, (apparently) – you don’t need to concentrate on keeping anything still in the putting stroke. If you are intending to tap a ball a few feet toward a hole, you concentrate, (if you must), on the simple movements required to propel the ball in the most comfortable way. You shouldn’t focus on what to keep still. That’s like driving a car by focussing on your backside. If other parts of the body remain still, or don’t need to move – fine.
    Personally, I hate the ‘keep the head still’ advice, which is the favourite of the has-been golf commentators who more often than not gave the game away when they could no longer putt. I find when I try to ‘keep my head still’, that I lose all awareness of the hole and end up stabbing it wide like some sort of rusted marionette.
    I think we recently saw that Brad Faxon ‘pivoted’ a little on his longer putts. Nothing wrong with it.
    But WD is correct. If Jimmy loses the magic and starts taking 34 putts, the clowns on the golf shows will say he has a dodgy stroke.

  4. Mark Osborn February 7, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    I’ve looked at most of the top guys now and been amazed (and annoyed) by the amount they’re all moving around.

    Rory makes this strange Asian Bhangra head move as he changes direction, for example and much like Walkers’ weight-shift, it’s not even subtle.

    Draw some lines and take a look: http://youtu.be/-PiYXthL8Pk

  5. Ming Yeung February 8, 2015 at 3:51 am #

    point is putting is part technique and part black magic. WD i believe is trying to point out that commentators on tv actually have no idea what they are talking about and make stuff up to fill up precious tv time. the 2 best putters in the history of the game are jack and tiger, period. don’t even try to argue with that you won’t win. when they were putting well, it had nothing to do with technique, but more to do with heart and will. Just like other greats in other sports, Jordan had a flat shot yet he scored when it mattered, Gretzky wasn’t the best skater or had the best shot but holds records that will never be broken. So on so fourth, the greats just have that extra something that allows them to perform at the highest level on a consistent basis.

  6. Mark Osborn February 8, 2015 at 8:28 am #

    Thanks kb24. I’ll bare that in mind the next I’m asked for a cliche.

  7. john greyston February 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

    Hogan thought Bobby Locke was the best ever. The late billy Casper wasn’t bad either

  8. John Neeson February 8, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    I can’t bear it – and I definitely refuse to bare it.

  9. george layne February 8, 2015 at 11:46 pm #

    I like what Crenshaw and Harvey Penick had to say about putting. And that you should develop your own style. My style just happens to look like a guy who looks like he’s copying Jack. Yeah I’m a copy cat. My style that I developed on my own was not too successful at holing putts so I copy. I can’t wait to try and copy Walker.

  10. peter March 13, 2015 at 7:30 am #

    Watching this sparked a seed in my memory of an interesting point made in a little known Instruction book I bought years ago. The book is called “The Fairway Within”, Golf for the Mind, Body and Soul (by Peter Lightfoot and Cecilia Croaker) published in 2004.

    The book is basically about developing and improving awareness of rhythm and balance in golf…often using Eastern Zen type techniques! Neither Lightfoot or Croaker are well known in Australian Golf, probably zero outside of Australia!

    Nothing special there you say until you read the Forward by 5 times British Open Champion, Peter Thomson. One of the sharpest minds in golf and probably the best swing in the 50’s and 60’s (after Ben H of course). I quote

    ‘I have a suspicion that most modern training guides are either on the wrong track, or they are hopeless at conveying ideas. I therefore read this manuscript with interest, and found much to my way of thinking. In the putting section for example, I found for the first time in print, what everyone from Harry Vardon down through Bobby Locke knew as basic – the putt is just a simple diminution of the full drive, and the body has to do in miniature what it does to the fullest from the tee!’

    So is Walker’s putting style the way of the future or merely a new take on classic ways?

    Btw, I agree with what I believe Wayne was trying to say,

    That TV Instructors look at results and then try to fit the topic of instruction to the result!
    I am certain that the Golf Channel suit did not even realise that Walker was moving!

    Regards,
    Pete

  11. Tom Hurst March 29, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    Wayne,
    I have a problem with uniform solutions for all personalities—— putting I believe introduces the opportunity for more variables than other facets of the game simply because of the usual relatively short distances the ball must travel, which compounds the delicacy of the technique. If I were forced to choose between ART AND SCIENCE —— I would lean slightly toward ART———- my all time favorite for unorthodoxy is Bobby Locke. tom hurst

  12. Cary January 25, 2018 at 11:15 pm #

    Bobby Jones and Ben Crenshaw both said their can be a little movement in the putting stroke as they said trying to keep too still cause tension. But I never heard them say the head could move.

  13. Cary January 25, 2018 at 11:20 pm #

    I believe Bobby Jones talked about the knees or hips moving a little.

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