Ken Brown book review: 'One Putt'

Choosing a flat stick, the putting stroke and drills - the BBC master shares his secrets

Charlie Lemay's picture
Mon, 13 Jul 2015

Ken Brown book review: 'One Putt'

Seve Ballesteros foreword: “To putt well, like anything in life, you need to understand the basics. One Putt will explain that. Ken Brown charmed the ball into the hole with his old hickory-shafted putter, he was one of the best.”

The youthful among you may only know Ken Brown as the BBC golf analyst and commentator, but those longer in the tooth will remember the affable Scot as a four-time European Tour winner, a PGA Tour champion and a five-time Ryder Cup player.

He boasts a wealth of knowledge on the beautiful game, as his "Ken on the Course" features for BBC Sport attest, but he excels in one area in particular – putting.

It’s a facet of the game Brown admits he had to be proficient in, as he was “never going to overpower a golf course”, and he became so outstanding with the flatstick he earned the nickname “One Putt”.

St Andrews golf guide

A foreword by friend Seve Ballesteros further enhances the author’s credentials, if they were ever in doubt, and there are also endorsements from Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and Sir Nick Faldo.

“I started writing it a long time ago and had a very big pile of notes but I kept stopping and starting,” Brown told GolfMagic. “When Seve wasn’t well I’d email him every couple of months…he wrote a nice testimony and that got me thinking ‘I’ve got to finish this bloody thing’.”

The book starts with the basics, examining how to choose a putter and the correct set-up. He then moves on to reading greens and the actual mechanics of the stroke, including touch and feel.

Brown then reveals some excellent tips and drills to help players engrain the positive habits they have learned, because as is stresses in the book, you won’t get anywhere without lots of practice.

"I could have written a whole book just on choosing a putter, but my ethos was not trying to write everything there is to know about putters and putting, but all you need to know to hole more putts," he said.

The content is structured in what Brown terms a "putting ladder" to take the reader on a journey and keep them engaged and it makes the information easily digestable. Superb pictures from veteran photographer David Cannon help illustrate the point, and will appeal to those who get bogged down by too much text.

David Cannon talks shooting St Andrews

“I wanted there to be a narrative through the book so I did it as if I was going to be putting,” added Brown. “First of all I need a putter, then I need to know how I’m going to use the putter. Now I need to know where to aim it. Now I’ve got to hit it, now I’ve got to develop my touch and feel and now I’ve got to improve through tips and drills.”

Brown acknowledges that there is no perfect putting technique but a core of fundamentals, admitting he has his own “unusual” style, which led to Ballesteros to call him the "Picasso of putting".

“I assume it was because I had a slightly different style of putting than most people," Brown adds. "I had a hickory putter, I was 6ft 2 and stooped over the ball so I had an unusual method. I think that’s where he got the idea from rather than I was some kind of impressionist. “

As you would expect from someone who has spent their life in golf, there are anecdotal gems sprinkled throughout. For instance, did you know he lent Faldo and Bernhard Langer his putter for their first Masters wins? 

Verdict

A book that will be useful to players of all handicaps. This book lays out the fundamentals of putting and teaches players how to become a master with the flatstick, like the author.

Engaging, full of the author's easy-going charm and well-written throughout, take heed of Brown’s instruction and you could also become a “One Putt” player.  

"Putting is not a difficult skill, it's not rocket science," Brown says. "It's not like hitting a high feathered draw over the top of a tree to land softly on a green. Anybody can do it."

Price: £17.99
Publisher: Hamlyn