Initial Putting Skill
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You must be able to trust your stroke … not that stroke mechanics are anywhere near being the most important thing in putting. Like the full swing, in a simple 2D analysis, the two main considerations are stroke path and putter face direction at impact. Of these two variables, there’s a bunch of good news. First there is the 80/20 rule of thumb. The means 80% of any face direction error directly affects where the ball will role and influences how much it might curve on breaking putts. That’s indirectly the good news. The good news is only 20% of any stroke path errors affect the roll of the ball. Why is this good news? It means you can focus your attention on only one factor and generally forget the other … once fundamental stroke mechanics are learned Still more good news … there is a simple way to control which way the putter will be facing at impact. Still even more good news … when you use this face control technique, you are killing two birds with one stone
Stroke path …only influences where the ball will role and how much it might curve on breaking putts. That’s indirectly the good news. The real good news is … the further good news is most stroke mechanics are the result of pre-putt fundamentals which require zero talent or skill. You have 100% control over pre-putt fundamentals. The learning task is to know what and how to get control over your stroke and then to practice enough to have the confidence any missed putt was NOT a result of a bad stroke. Missed putts are reduced to a bad read, bad strategy or bad speed control. You must be able to stand over any putt and know with absolute certainty you have the ability to correctly do the same stinking thing, the same stinking way, every stinking time. Here’s your test … can you make fifty consecutive, straight, 10’ putts?
What to do …master correct pre-putt fundamentals. Yeah this has been the boring part of learning, but the cure for boredom is success. There is a “best way” to become consistent. Employing these practices will require a bit of faith in some new stuff many other golfers will criticize. So do you have the wisdom to think about new things and the courage to give it a valid effort. I promise … you will see nearly instant results!
· Nose over the ball (nothing controversial here)
· Hands under your shoulders (nothing controversial here)
· Putter head flat on the ground … this may require bending the lie angle or even shortening the length of your putter. Your putter MUST fit your correct posture, you DO NOT ever try to yourself fit a wrong putter. Buy and adjust a cheap putter, then transfer those fitting specs to that national treasure in your bag
· Elbows comfortably bent and tucked close to and slightly above your hips … this allows for a more consistently repeatable, square to square stroke
· Top hand in a very weak position, bottom hand in a dead perfectly square to the putterface position (wait a minute Jack … for real … OK, now you’re scaring me)
· Weight evenly balanced between your toes and heels (just imagine standing up normally … thought you needed a break after all that controversy
Body and Putterface Alignment …
· Shoulders and knees aimed down your intended target path … this will leave your feet into what appears to be a closed position. This may be different, but remember you don’t hit the putt with your feet (wait a minute Jack … for real?)
· Putter head dead solid square with your intended path … don’t forget
Ball Position …
· Again … nose over the ball
· Left to Right … ball forward, generally opposite you left eye. This is both an individual technique and a day to day adjustment
now for the stroke …remember, stroke path only influences where the ball will role and how much it might curve on breaking putts … the minor factor. Question … what was the last thing that went through the bug’s mind when it hit the windshield. Answer … it’s rectum! Maybe this is a touch gross, but it strongly influences a very important point … after you have MASTERED stroke mechanics, forget about your stroke. It’s mastered it and you know it.
· Mental attitude improves when you see putt after putt falling into the hole. Confidence leads to relaxed muscles and relaxed muscles allow the sub-conscious mind to control the putt.
· Seeing the true size of the hole and employing the correct strategy help your performance > confidence > performance … a very good circle unlike arguing with your wife.
· Three balls will fit into the hole at the same time … you don’t have to make a perfect putt
· See a path, not a skinny little pencil line … rolling the ball down a 3” wide ribbon is much easier than rolling it down a piece of thread
· It is time to focus on the two things that matter most … putterface direction at impact and speed control. Here’s the biggest and best news of all. You control BOTH with one simple technique … strike the back of the ball.
· Be a two handed putter … the weakened top hand pushes the putter away from the ball and the dead solid square bottom hand strikes the ball
A common thing to hear on TV broadcasts lately is for an announcer to speak of “releasing the putter, through the ball”. This only applies to arc putting … a completely stupid way to putt. My putting program is based on a square to square technique … the putter goes back and comes into the ball square to your intended path. At the moment the putter strikes the back of the ball it is in a dead square position because it never deviated from its initial square position at address.
Here’s an important thing to know … many tour pros are not really good putters. They putt on instinct and talent rather than a well-defined strategy. Their skill is based more on their kinesthetic feel. This sets them up with the “chicken or feathers”, up and down performance. There will be days when you arrive at the course with your total game … those are the chicken days. Then there will be days when you show up with no feel … those are the feathers days. If all you have is physical skill based upon kinesthetic feel, then you are doomed to be inconsistent.
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