Kenny Perry's Plumb Bob & The Tao of Johnny Miller

I first noticed Kenny Perry's predilection for the plumb bob a few months ago at the Travelers Championship.

It was a week after the water-logged U.S. Open, and Kenny was killing it with his Craz-E mallet. Ultimately, he won with a 258, the lowest score in the tournament's 57 year history.

I've got to admit I was impressed... So I immediately adopted my own, made-up version of the technique, which relied heavily on guesswork and odds. Naturally it didn't help me, and that's the thing... there's quite a bit of debate on the effectiveness of plumb-bobbing... and exactly how to do it. Many experts don't even believe in it. And though it seemed to work just fine for Kenny Perry at the Travelers, it had failed him a couple of months earlier at The Masters. I mean... who could forget that disaster? Well, just in case you did, here's a snippet of Jason Sobel's Master's Live Blog from the 17th hole on Sunday (click to enlarge it if you dare):

I know, painful, right? So yes; its usefulness is debatable and some feel any help a golfer gets from it is simply for the fact that it's a confidence builder...a way to confirm a first impression.

Which brings us to Johnny Miller, the bombastic broadcaster and World Golf Hall of Fame member who seems to annoy
the holy living crap out of everyone on the planetsome people. His caustic commentary features the kind of hyperbole that produces frequent, collective eyerolling each Sunday. OK, so last weekend at East Lake, there was Mr. Perry, plumb-bobbing away, when the dogmatic Mr. Miller declared with his usual assurance, "He has no idea what he's doing with that plumb bob", and added smugly that he himself had learned to plumb bob from..."the guy who invented it."

Groans and eye-rolling ensue across the world, and at the same moment Kenny rolls his putt right into the center of the cup for birdie. Never at a loss for words Johnny quipped cheerfully, "Whatever he's doing it seems to be working for him".

And that my friends, is the Tao of Johnny Miller. He just says it... and doesn't much worry what it is. And lots of golf fans like him for that. Well maybe not lots, but he's definitely got his fans. Have a look at the Forums; they all seem to have at least one Johnny Miller topic, and a serpentine tangle of Johnny Miller threads, and yes you'll see, there are Miller admirers, but that said, you'll be left with no doubt about the passion of his detractors... and they're not afraid to articulate their opinion of the former golf great. 

A perfunctory "Johnny Miller is..." Google search yielded the following reactions. Be forewarned some of them are quite visceral:

a loud-mouth, gutless liar
a Tool
a complete jerk
a total loser
a very good golf announcer
a foul-mouthed person who assumes he knows everything
a horrible announcer
a divisive TV commentator
a photographer based in Brooklyn, New Yorka jack-ass
a disgrace to golf and television announcing
a d1ck
a moron with barely a pulse
a stand-out when it comes to honest and knowledgeable commentary
a jealous, opinionated, self-serving announcer
a nice guy who was a good golfer
a bitter old fool
a know-it-all jerk
a total a$$hole

...among others. So there you have it, a plethora of opinions about a controversial personality. Of course I totally understand what it is people don't like about him, but I've got to admit I find him more entertaining than many of the other commentators and some of his quotes are priceless. My all-time favorite Millerism ... everyone has a favorite, right?... is: "He made a perfect putt but misread it" ...because I do that all the time, plumb bob or no plumb bob.

Photos: Kenny Perry/GolfGirlMedia ✿ Johnny Miller/Joey Terill via Golf Digest


  1. Everything I read about plumb-bobbing tells me it can work very well if the hole and where you are standing are 100% horizontal and flat. Otherwise, probably not. There is a guy at my club that CAN plumb-bob any putt and is almost always right. So...???

    I cannot explain my loathing of Johnny Miller. It is probably my character defect, not his. But, occasionally, I feel like going for this throat right thru the TV screen...

  2. Some people just can't stand a guy that speaks his mind, and Johnny Miller doesn't have a filter. I generally like it when people speak their mind openly and honestly, and generally prefer it over the boorish political-correctness that you find from the majority of the media.

  3. there is nothing wrong with plumb bobbing...each of us visualizes a putt in our own way. Some feel the green with the feet...some see water flowing....some do the spiderman. Kenny's routine includes looking at a not quite vertical what? It works!

    Do any of us know WHAT he is thinking as he looks at that line? We don't...and it doesn't matter if Johnny thinks that Karsten Ping "invented" it....I'm sure it was around long before! I was just as annoyed by his everchanging opinion of grain! The grain will really grab this...oh the grain caused that...but then when any of the other annnounvers would say.."this course really has no grain" he would agree!! is time to get a new announcer...

  4. I'd like to add "washed-up redneck blowhard" to that list if I may, Thank you.

  5. I didn't know (or care)much about Johnny Miller till I started going on the golf forums and started hearing what they were saying about him !!!

    So my opinion in one line: "an often obnoxious & occasionally illuminating announcer who doesn't believe in diplomacy"

    My favorite quote is "I’m gonna start calling you the CHEF--You're slicing everything today" I didn't hear him say it but it's kind of cute. ;)

  6. Forget the plumb bob thingy, what about Tiger just shooting daggers at him during the intvw.? Tiger hates Miller (Johnny did say that T's best golf was behind him) and the moment was so much fun to watch as Tiger was as cold as ice to Johnny. I interviewed Miller once and asked him how he feels about, basically everyone dissing him, he said "doesn't bother me, I'm honest. Some can't take it." The sad part is that "honesty" is what kept him from ever captaining a Ryder Cup team.

  7. Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. He's like golf's weird uncle. You just never know what is coming out of his mouth. And that's why I have to say I'm in the like camp, even though his comments sometimes make me cringe, too. In fact, sometimes his seemingly idiotic comments make me like him more. I think it's that whole no filter and "Johnny doesn't care" deal.

    Plumb bobbing is old school. My dad does it and he's a good putter, always has been. He taught me how to do it and I could never figure it out. I just went back to guessing.

  8. Maybe Kenny was just plumb tuckered out that day.

  9. OMG !!! I just found some old pics of Johnny Miller wearing all kinds of crazy outfits. Outfits that make Ian Poulter's clothes look boring. Wild bright colored plaid pants really tight matching shirts, he's really thin with all this long blond hair??? I never knew him as anything but an old commentator with a ruddy face and a five head. I'm kind of shocked.

  10. The google search for Johnny Miller was rude - but almost true!


Lets us know what you think...