Switch Putter Notah Begay Wins


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Notah Begay Wins with Switch PuttingAugust 1999

My partner Brian Stack and I have been seeing Notah Begay III approximately twice a year for the last four years. We go to a couple of tournaments a year to check on his progress. He invited us to come to the Reno-Tahoe Open and to give him a tune-up. After his practice round on Tuesday before the tournament, he asked us to help him with his right-handed putting stroke. He said, “don’t mess with my left-handed stroke; it is the most consistent part of my entire golf game.”  As we were the ones who taught him to putt left-handed, we agreed.

His primary difficulty was with his right-handed stroke. Two-thirds of our practice time with most of the better players is spent working on their right-handed putting strokes. We always thought it would be the other way around. We thought this would be because of the player’s lack of experience putting left-handed. Once the player is reasonably comfortable putting left-handed, they usually only need a minor tune-up to their left-handed stroke. All the major problems seem to come with their right-handed putting strokes.   

    Notah began the lesson by rolling in 6 out of 20 putts from 10 feet, 30%. We had been trying for the previous year to get Notah to move the ball closer to his body, more directly under his eyes. Brian had even sent Notah a letter recommending he move the ball closer to his feet and directly under his eyes. This was also my recommendation to him the last time I saw him in San Diego for the Buick Invitational. This was the same problem he had with his ball position in his long game prior to the Oregon Duck Invitational. We recommended he move the ball three balls closer, he did and went out and set the course record [10 birdie 63] on Saturday and went on to win.

 In Reno, our recommendation was the same for his putting, that he move the ball three balls closer to his feet and directly under his eyes. This also moved his hands closer to his body, which is a much more consistent position from which to putt.  With the ball so far away, he had developed a loop in his stroke.  He complained that his blade was finishing in a closed position. Both of these problems were essentially eliminated with the adjustment in his ball position. With his hands directly under his shoulders, his swing path was less of an arc and more straight back and straight thru. This also helped to keep the blade squarer throughout the entire putting stroke. He then proceeded to make 27 out of the next 30 putts from 10 feet, 90%. His confidence was growing with every successful series of putts. I will never forget the look on his face when he drained 5 in a row for the second straight time. 

While we had his attention, I made one more request. I told him that he was going to make more right-handed putts, so let’s get “into the hunt”.  Notah agreed that it was time.   I also told him that like all rookies on the PGA tour, he was at a severe disadvantage in the majority of the tournaments his first year. But since this was the first year of the Reno-Tahoe Open, everyone essentially was a rookie at the Montreux Golf Club.

He proceeded to putt beautifully all week... Especially impressive was his course record 9 under 63 on Saturday. He was 10 for 10 on the left to right putts left-handed within 20 feet and 7 of 8 on the right-handers inside of ten feet. He made 6 birdies left-handed and 4 right-handed for a grand total of ten birdies. He went on to win 3 more times in the next 10 months giving him 4 wins in less than a year. Proving once and for all, switch putting works at all levels, including the highest level in the game of golf, the PGA Tour

From this point in time Switch putting was no longer just an obscure radical putting theory, but a proven method of putting at all levels of the game of golf. 

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