Camilo Villegas' 'Spider Man' Method for Reading Greens

Camilo Villegas crouches close to the ground to line up a putt in a PGA Tour tournament.
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

In one way, Camilo Villegas reads greens in the same way as every other golfer: by taking a close look at the contours to try to see the break. It's the way that Villegas does that, however, that first made him famous. He gets way down, almost on his belly but in fact balancing on fingertips, toes and his putter, to get as close a look as possible at the putting green surface.

This method led to Villegas' nickname: "Spider Man." And Villegas' "Spider Man" method of green reading must work for him — he has four PGA Tour wins in his career thus far.

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Where Villegas' Spider-Man Pose Began

Camilo Villegas Spider Man post at the 2006 Doral
The 'Spider-Man pose' got its first national TV exposure at the 2006 Doral. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The photo is from the 2006 Ford Championship at Doral. It was at this tournament that Camilo Villegas' unique style for reading putts first gained a national television audience. Combined with his style, his swagger and his physique, that green-reading contortionism helped make Villegas a fan favorite early in his career.

The 2006 Ford Championship at Doral wasn't the first time Villegas assumed the position, however. He first struck the pose in Nationwide Tour events in 2005.

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Camilo's Explanation

Camilo Villegas during the 2008 BMW Championship
Villegas put the pose to good use at the 2008 BMW Championship - he won the tournament. This photo was taken on the 15th green during the final round. Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Why did Camilo Villegas start reading some putts in this manner? At a press conference early in 2006, Villegas explained:
"I was struggling last year with my putting ... and figured I had to do something about it. And maybe reading the greens better was going to help me. So middle of the round I went straight down there, tried to get real close to the ground. I Liked it, felt good, and kept doing it ever since."

Villegas doesn't read every putt in this manner, only those on which he feels he needs a little more help deciphering the break.

"It was just another way of giving myself a better chance to make putts, to see the line more perfectly," Villegas has said.

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Giving It a Name

Camilo Villegas' Spider Man green reading routine during the Scottish Open
Villegas doesn't just go low on the green; sometimes he has to get a faceful of grass in the greenside rough in order to get a good read on his putt. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Camilo Villegas' green-reading style has been described in many ways. It's been called "the praying mantis technique" and "serpentine-like." It's been called "a tarantula-like pose."

It's the spider analogy that has stuck, with the position most commonly referred to as a "Spider-Man pose." Villegas himself gained the nickname "Spider-Man" as a result.

The pose might vary slightly here and there, but typically Villegas sticks one leg out behind him, tucks the other leg up underneath his torso, holds onto the putter with his right hand and balances on the fingers of his left hand, all the while keeping his chest and face mere inches off the ground.

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'I Think My Leg Would Fall Off'

Camilo Villegas' Spider Man post viewed from behind.
A 'rear' view of Camilo Villegas' so-called 'Spider-Man pose' on the putting green. Scott Halleran/Getty Images
"I've heard some interesting comments from the galleries," Camilo Villegas said in an interview not long after bringing his "Spider-Man pose" to the PGA Tour. No doubt he has, as fans usually love it when Villegas hits the turf.

What do other players think about his pose? Said Villegas: "I’m not sure what other players or other people think about, it but as long as it’s working, I’m sticking with it."

When other players are asked whether they would ever employ Villegas' tactic, their response is usually something along the lines of, "Are you crazy? I'd never be able to get up."

At the 2007 Shark Shootout, Chris DiMarco said, "I can't do it. I can promise you that. You know, (Camilo is) flexible enough to do that. I think my leg would fall off."

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For Villegas, It's a Confidence Boost

Camilo Villegas getting low to read a putt at TPC Sawgrass.
Camilo Villegas had to get close to the edge of TPC Sawgrass' 17th green in order to read this putt. Scott Halleran/Getty Images
"The lower your perspective, the better you'll be able to see the break," Camilo Villegas told Men's Fitness magazine about his green-reading technique.

But does this technique really produce better putts? If the so-called Spider-Man pose was an objectively better way of reading greens, we'd see other golfers (at least those physically capable) doing it.

But much about putting is quite subjective. For Villegas, the important thing is that this technique gives him confidence, it helps him settle on a line and speed. And as long as Villegas has a subjective belief in the method, he'll benefit from doing it.