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Putting with Dustin Johnson: Rhythm Is the Key


The perception is that Dustin's putting has held him back, and that once he starts draining more putts, the sky's the limit. While that may be true to an extent — Johnson ranked 117th on Tour in 2013 in Strokes Gained, Putting — his stroke has allowed him to convert a staggering number of eagles (12 in 71 rounds in 2013) and birdies (25th on Tour in birdie average in 2013). And his putting has been vastly improved this season; entering The Masters, he ranks 19th on Tour in Strokes Gained, Putting, and his slow, smooth stroke seems tailor-made for Augusta's lightning-fast greens. As with his full swing, Johnson's putting stroke hinges on tempo.

My putting stroke is longer and slower than many players out here. Like with the full swing, rhythm is very important, and a longer, slower putting stroke helps me maintain rhythm.

My tendency is to have my hands forward at address, but we've worked hard to keep the putter at a 90-degree angle to my body. I do have a little trigger right before the takeaway where I flex my hands forward slightly, but at address, the putter is at 90 degrees.

Butch Harmon says:

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Dustin has done a nice job with his putting. He has an unusual putting stroke — it's very slow, smooth and rhythmic.

Guys like me who grew up on slow greens use a short pop stroke, but for Dustin, his long, rhythmic putting stroke is very effective on the fast greens that he faces on Tour.

I like him to keep his putter at a 90-degree angle relative to his body.

He also uses very light grip pressure — maybe a 3 on a scale of 1-10. Most amateurs grip it much harder.

This article appears in the 2014 issue of Athlon's Golf Annual. Order your copy today.