You Dance with your Putter
Ok, you've hit a decent iron shot to the green. You're standing on the "dance floor" ready to dance. Do you know the right steps to bring this song to life?
Have you grooved the process of peak performance putting? In order to dance and make your putter sings you need to have the right steps.
You'll know as a member of the Whole Mind Golf community that I am a firm believer in mental preparation. This means pre-round and pre-shot preparation which you'll be learning more abut in a coming lesson. While most players know of and use a pre-shot routine for hitting their driver and irons, this process seems to lose its importance for many once it comes to putting.
Big mistake! In fact the pre-shot routine is even more important once you're on the dance floor. Putting is the first and last chance to score! Of every shot you'll ever make in the game putting will determine the outcome more than any other stroke and becomes the final measuring stick on how well you played. True or true?
Simplify and Magnify
Once it is your turn to putt follow these 3 simple steps to ingrain a high level mental process directly into your routine.
1) Stalk your putt - stroll around your ball and the hole and assess your line. What is the best speed to make this putt on? Firm. Gentle. Lag. Aggressive. Your "weight" or "pace" is the most relevant piece of information here.
2) Playing to the Apex - pick a spot across which you want your ball to roll over as it makes its way to the hole. A good strategy, if there is obvious break in the putt, is to pick a spot at the apex of the break. The apex is always higher than you think. Dave Pelz did research on this and so did Phil during Pro-Ams he was in.
He found that 99 out of 100 golfers under read the break! Now they're being extreme in this but it is important you make the adjustment mentally. Find the high spot in the break (the apex) and add some more break. Make a habit of this and you'll be making waaaaay more breaking putts, I promise you!
This approach also allows you to be a far superior lagger on tough, breaking putts. You'll finally be playing tons of break and letting the ball “feed” toward the hole. Remember, on putts that break towards you if you take too little break and are therefore forced to hammer the putt to make it, the ball will break more as it loses speed near the hole and you'll have 3, 4 and 5 footers all day as come backers for par. Not what you want.
Understanding where the Apex Really is...
By playing proper break and playing to the true apex you'll free up your stroke immensely and begin to really feel the roll of the putt and watch it die toward and in the hole. This is very different than being forced to smash the putt in due to taking the smaller break. I hope I've beaten this horse enough that you really get this and make it completely unconscious in your putting.
This is the doorway to seriously improved lag putting and of course the occasional drained putt on a downhill slider! Nothing feels better than draining a brutally tough putt. And nothing demoralizes an opponent more than this either!
So while stalking your putt notice the high point of any breaking putt and find a mark on the green near it to roll the ball across. Commit!
3) Go bowling - this is a visualization/feel process. You know when you go bowling how you pull your arm back and release it forward to roll the ball down the lane, right? Get a feeling of that in your rear hand prior to making your putt.
After completing steps 1 and 2, stand behind your ball, allowing that information to merge, see your ball roll over your "spot" and smoothly roll toward the cup and drop in the hole at your desired "pace".
Now add step 3 to increase sensitivity in your hands and provide your unconscious a sensory image of what you want to experience. Feel how hard/soft you'll have to roll a golf ball with your rear hand in order to roll it over your spot and drop it in the hole.
There are many other additional visualization techniques you can do to really advance your putting prowess. Let's look at a few more...
Get Anchored in Cement for Improved Lag Putting
You have a 40 foot putt. You need to two putt to win. There's break in the putt and the greens are slippery fast. You do not want a 6 footer left for the 2 putt. You need to lag this ne close and have a tap in or at most a 3 footer.
One more comment before we get into the actual visualization. When you're lasgging do you take the time to go and look (and feel under your feet) around the cup? Do you take into consideration the most critical part of lag putting (and putting in general)?
The 3 feet around the cup, how it breaks, what side of the hole breaks most is absolutely essential to know in becoming a good putter. Why? 3 critical reasons:
1. The break near the hole is magnified due to the fact your ball is slowing down
2. There are hundreds of foot prints throughout the day surrounding the hole. This affects the break and roll of the putt
3. This last point is one of the most overlooked aspects for most putters: due to all the walking right near the hole (everyone has to bend down to get the ball out of the hole and stands right beside it to do this) there is a measurable “volcano” formed around the cup. The footprints and weight of all the people during a round flatten the ground around the hole thereby effectively raising the portion right around the cup.
You and every other golfer has watched a perfect putt dribble to the right just at the hole as it lost speed. The golden rule, and this has been verified by Dave Pelz and others, is to putt as if the hole is 18” past where it actually is.
So when you're putting ANY length putt act and feel as if the hole is 18” past where it is located. Not 2 feet or 1 foot. 18 inches. This will get you holing way more putts and let you drop a few bombs too. Along with this next visualization you'll really improve your long/lag putting.
Lag putting visualization
- Imagine you're standing in cement up past your knees. You literally can not move your legs.
- Imagine and feel how smoothly you'll need to roll a golf ball with your rear (low) hand to make it stop right near the hole.
- Visualize a circle around the cup. Make it a favorite color. Make the colored circle 3 feet in diameter.
Keep in mind that you've done your green reading and walked near the hole, you know where it breaks most around the hole and the best spot to putt from if you don't hole your first putt. This is one of the fundamentals to being an all-round good putter. Once you know, for example, that the flattest, easiest putt will be a 4 footer on the left side of the hole then any lag that drips to the left and leaves you that putt is a good put.
If the right side will leave you a 3 foot breaking putt it is easier to make a 4 footer straight up hill, correct? Absolutely. So PLAN your lag putt, don't just give the hole a cursory glance and whack the 40 foot put anywhere near the hole. Sometimes a 3 footer is better than a 2 footer.
This lesson, when applied and practiced into your game, will solidify your lag putting and these skills will bleed into your short putting as well and make you more certain on them also. Mixing solid visualizations with good mental management and intelligent pre-putt green reading will make you a much more consistent putter.
Enjoy and let me know how things improve....
Ps; There's a section in a future lesson where I really break down the importance of putting and provide some very effective processes to include in your putting routine. They improved my own short putting immensely and feedback I've received from other clients has been excellent.
There's also a section on the yips and how to end this tragic ailment that ruins many careers...
Watch for these lessons. As always, I'll email you ahead of the lesson so you know it's ready.