After Rory McIlroy’s win at The Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend, a lot is being said about the time he spent with Brad Faxon before the tournament, which seemed to transform his putting in dramatic fashion.
Before last week’s tournament, Rory was 124th on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained Putting. On Sunday evening however, he was ranked 1st in SG Putting for the tournament and gained 2.5 strokes on the field (according to Mark Broadie, it was the best putting performance of his career). Quite the transformation!
During the week before the tournament, Rory, who had clearly lost all confidence in his ability with the flat stick, decided to spend some time picking the brain of one of the best putters of all time, Brad Faxon. During that time, Brad shared the keys to his putting game (most of which are mental game techniques) and clearly Rory benefited from it enormously.
In this article we’ll take a look at the putting tips that Brad Faxon shared with Rory, and how they can help you make more putts this season. I’ve embedded a video at the end of the article in which Faxon demonstrates some of these putting tips.
Brad Faxon Is An Artist With A Putter
When Brad Faxon putts there are NO technical thoughts. He creates a picture in his mind and uses that image to tell his body what it needs to do to turn that putt into a reality. It’s a sensory and reactive process, not a mechanical, proactive one. There’s no time between his last look from the hole back to the ball, and taking the putter back – no time for thinking, it’s pure engagement with the intention for the putt. “It’s almost like I start my stroke before my eyes get back to the ball”, Faxon says. Rory said that last weekend he got back to that child’s mentality of just putting with instinct, instead of getting too technical and overthinking.
Routine is the Measure of Success
Rory said that one of the most important putting tips he learned from Brad Faxon, was a philosophical one. He says he had to let go of the outcome, and instead, just commit himself to the process. When you’re overly concerned about whether the ball goes in or not, it creates pressure and tension. However, Faxon reminded Rory to putt “as if he doesn’t care if it goes in or not. Measure the success of a putt by the routine, not the outcome”.
What is your putting routine? Do you have a clearly defined putting routine that puts your attention where it needs to be to maximize your chances of success?
The Importance of Visualization In Putting
Visualization is a key part of Brad Faxon’s putting routine and it should be for you too. Being able to imagine the pace and line that the ball is going to travel on, will tell your body what it needs to do, to give it the best chance of doing the same in reality. Do your best to hold the image of the putt in your mind, right up until the moment you start your stroke. This will “turn off” thinking and keep you focused on the sensation.
Try to Make Everything
Brad Faxon says he doesn’t do lag putting. He tries to make everything no matter how far away it is. There’s no thought about the next putt, just the putt in front of him tracking its line and going in the hole.
Develop a “Trigger”
Rory said that he and Brad discussed implementing a trigger to start his stroke. Although Rory didn’t give specific details as to what his putting trigger is, this would be something that you can focus on to free your mind, right before starting the stroke. Like a basketball player bouncing the ball a set number of times before throwing a free-throw.
Keeping grip pressure light is absolutely key to allowing the putter to move with freedom. Brad Faxon says he makes sure there’s no tension in his hands, forearms and biceps when he’s over the ball.
Tempo and Rhythm
Brad Faxon talks about the importance of rhythm and tempo in putting and how the consistency of it is essential to being able to putt well, especially under pressure. Brad recommends finding your optimal putting tempo/rhythm and working on replicating over and over in practice. There are plenty of tools available now to help you with this.
Clearly these Brad Faxon putting tips worked for Rory. Take them with you to your next practice session, work on them and execute them on the course!
U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue