Twenty to thirty years ago we used to talk about young players having to pay their dues as they embarked on a career as a professional, to show respect to the guys around them, to work their way into the winner’s circle.
Those days are gone. The young hot-shots we see emerging in all corners of the world are effectively professional amateurs – they have paid their dues in the ‘amateur’ ranks and arrive with all the tools they need to compete. They are going to rip your throat out. They are ‘tour ready’. And Jordan Spieth is at the cutting edge.
The magic wand
Of course, if you want to win major championships it helps if you are one of the best putters on the planet. When he gets on a role, Spieth holes putts from everywhere. And like all the great putters, he doesn’t look like he’s going to miss.
There are several factors that can be identified to explain Spieth’s putting talents. The main factor is he works harder than anyone with the short stick. When questioned about his ability to get the ball in the hole so easily he always responds: practise. It isn’t uncommon for him to spend all day hitting 1000 putts in a bid to make his reactions instinctive on the green.
With the help of caddie Michael Greller, Spieth creates a simple practise station and uses an alignment stick to keep everything in line. He putts from tees around the clock to give him the feel of a changing environment.
He has that look on the greens. An intangible quality. Tiger had it in his prime. Seve had it as well. The ability to make things happen and will the ball into the hole takes the Texan to another level.
Playing by the book
Spieth is calculated in his methods. It’s very rare you won’t find a photo of him scanning his notes he has made over his practise rounds. This again reflects the trend in the modern game; players today have so much greater access to high quality information.
Laser mapping of greens and satellite-guided course guides are now available to players and essentially work as a blueprint, a grand design or a game plan. Jordan is a left- brained thinker, he’s methodical, so this discipline comes easily to him while his caddie, Michael Greller is due a lot of credit for the role he plays in backing up his player with immediate and positive information.
Have you ever pulled out a course map on a green? If you haven’t then you should do as it provides valuable clues to help improve your round.
Spieth has a rigorous routine and so incredibly disciplined. People don’t see what goes on behind the scenes. He has a great team behind him, works incredibly hard, never leaves anything to chance. And that all adds up to a very impressive picture.
Playing it safe
It is consistency – allied with the neutrality of Spieth’s position at the top that enables him to enjoy his stock off the tee. The number one thing that will stand out to you is Spieth’s grip. He has an extended left finger in what is a deep interlocking grip. He also has an incredibly short right hand and long left thumb. It’s highly unorthodox.
The grip perfectly suits his swing style. A ‘body release’ swing in which the rotation of the bigger muscles is engineering the overall motion and controlling of the strike.
Like all great players Spieth eliminates one side of the golf course. All great players have a pattern to their good shots but they also have a pattern to their bad ones. Spieth’s ‘misses’ will be a tight pattern, falling away to the right.
Spieth is strong, athletic and puts the time in the gym. He has the strength to achieve the trait we see here. His right arm ties in with some of the best ball strikers of all time. Hogan and Faldo both had the ability to fire the right arm quite late.