There are so many different styles and ways to get the ball into the hole in as few putts as possible over the course of 18 holes of golf. It is a great feeling when you realize you have taken less than 30 putts to negotiate 18 holes. If you don’t already calculate how many putts you take for the round I recommend that you start. It is the way that you can measure where you are with the single most important part of the game.
I want to share with you my putting strategy and routine that I have created, tried and tested in my 20 years as a Teaching and Playing Professional. I am not suggesting at all that you have to do everything I am about to tell you, as we are all different in how we prepare for a putt and execute a putt. But I am confident that you will benefit from realizing the importance of adding the “2 Magic Tricks” to your existing shot routine and stroke of a putt.
So here we go….The following is everything that I do from the beginning to end of a putt to help me attempt to break the 30 putts per round barrier (Incorporating the “2 Magic
– Firstly when I walk on to the green towards the ball I try to sense the ground as I walk…is it soft or hard ground, can I feel the slopes and undulations. This will initially give me some help understanding the conditions.
-On reaching the ball (If I feel I need to) I will walk a few paces past the ball towards the hole to the side of the line of the putt to get a sideways perception of the distance to the hole from the ball.
-On returning to the ball I will stand on the ball to target line and look at the putt briefly from a standing position before crouching down behind the ball to begin reading the green and working out my intended path to the hole.
-I then take my set up position with the putter 5 inches minimum away from the side of the ball and from here I can practice stoke without the worry of the putter blade being so close to the ball that I might accidentally clip it!
-“Magic Trick 1” When carrying out your practice strokes keep your eyes on the hole and avoid wasting time looking down at the putter blade as you carry out your strokes. The
subconscious /creative brain, eyes and shoulders will work together to quickly gain a feel for the pace required whilst you keep your eyes on the hole. On a putt with an undulating read, you may want to let your eyes flit from the hole to the apex or high point of the putt to help you feel the path and the pace.
-On having had anything from 3 to 5 continuous practice strokes the subconscious and your instinct will have a good idea of what stroke you need to apply to the real stroke at the ball, so it is time to move in and settle yourself and the putter behind the ball.
-When the putter is behind the ball I like to send my eyes slowly down the intended line of my putt almost as if I was painting a strip with them as I turn my head gradually more to the left, I then repeat this process of “visual path painting”. This is something I learned from watching a truly great putter, José Maria Olazábal in his preparation to putt.
-Having gained confidence through carrying out “Magic Trick 1”, I am now ready for “Magic Trick 2”. I now know the pace and I also feel happy with the path of the ball so it is time to commit to the stroke. The most important factor for me is the following discipline. That as I play my stroke I want to leave my eyes down looking at where the ball was and track the ball to the hole by using my peripheral vision, right there is the trick! I have particularly found this to be a major help to people who suffer from missing short putts. The anxiety of the moment makes people start moving out of position before contacting the ball in an attempt to “will” the ball into the hole with their eyes! By moving out of the putt or coming up on the putt you are going to cause the shoulder alignment to open, which in turn creates the inaccuracy that could lead to missing a very short putt.
-A key point to look out for on a short putt is that if you can see an outline image of the hole when you are looking at the ball, then why would you need to move out of position during the stroke to see the hole that you can already see in your peripheral vision. It does take a lot of trust and practice but when you get results you will trust to stick at what I believe to be a vital discipline in getting away from the short putt blues. In summary – Keep the head still and your eyes down until you see the ball go in the hole out of your peripheral vision.
-The addition of “Magic Trick 1 & 2” to the way that you putt, I sincerely hope will help you to get better pace on your medium and long length putts. I am confident that it will help you stay still on shorter putts and avoid looking towards the hole too soon during the stroke. Tiger Woods has a version of “Magic Trick 2” which he refers to as “No Peeking”. If you see him on a short putt he does stay very still and disciplined to keep his head still and his eyes down during a stroke.
Good luck with your future putting and I hope that some of you will break that 30 putt barrier very soon!
Photo by Hone Morihana