Jordan Spieth keys to his game

In this special Jordan Spieth The Keys To His Success feature, Golf Monthly Top 25 Coach Barney Puttick looks at his strengths and weaknesses

"I’m working really hard on my putting. No one has ever done that perfectly. But what I do know is how you putt on every hole determines how happy or unhappy you are walking to the next tee, so it’s worth working on.” Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth The Keys To His Success

This quote from Jordan Spieth cuts to the heart of why he started 2016 as the world’s best player. Just as many of the world’s top players were looking to follow Rory’s lead and improve their driving stats at the end of 2014, Spieth was concentrating on his game on the greens. What I love about his philosophy is the importance he places on feel and visualisation. I believe all golf shots are a mixture of art and science and perhaps the temptation for the modern player is to become too scientifically dependant. However, Spieth treats this part of the game like an artform.

You may have noticed that he looks at the hole on some of his short putts. This is entirely done to place his focus on the target (the hole) and not the mechanics of his stroke. The flow and tempo of his action is a thing of beauty, and a testament to his strength of mind is that he retains this rhythm under pressure. From mid-range, Spieth was deadly in 2015. His 26 per cent conversion rate from 20 to 25 feet was the best on tour. But it is not all about feel. When Spieth is on the practice green, he devotes himself to grooving the mechanics that make his stroke so reliable. I have always liked putting with the left hand below right (for right-handers) because it helps the back of the left wrist to stay flat through impact. The left wrist and putterhead reflect each other, making it easier to square the face through impact (you'll see this if you watch the video below). If you ever have the chance to watch the American practise, listen to the sound of his putts – they are like a well-struck musical note.

In comparison to Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, Spieth’s long game can seem a little unspectacular. His swing certainly doesn’t have the same aesthetic appeal as the others. But this is what I describe as a ‘pro-like’ swing. Spieth understands that the only phase that really matters is impact and for him, the club is square and working on a great path. What’s not to like?

When you start to look at the detail in Spieth’s swing (again, take a look at the attached video), it is here where you see possible room for improvement. He plays some sports left-handed and I think there is evidence to suggest that his left side is stronger than his right. His left-hand grip is slightly weak and the clubface closes in the takeaway. The most noticeable effect of this is what you might describe as a ‘chicken wing’ through impact. It is almost as if he is ‘holding off’ the club through the strike and the face certainly stays square to the target for longer through impact than either McIlroy or Day. By tweaking his grip and doing some strength training (concentrating on his right side) and some work in the gym to become more supple, he would hit the ball further. There is no doubt. The question is, would an extra five or ten yards off the tee help him score better? Maybe, but maybe not, especially if it came at the expense of his priceless putting touch. I remember how Sergio Garcia worked so hard on reducing the lag in his swing that it affected his putting. That’s why I would leave Spieth’s swing alone.

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."

Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X