I know you posted some good putting practice drills somewhere on the forum, but I wanted to get your personal take on the “mental” process. BPGS1 had posted about the attitude of “not caring” or total indifference when putting, something I’m aware of but often find difficult to implement, especially in tournament play.
Having played on the big stage, do you get into that mode of “not caring” when on the greens or do you simply stay in a process-focused attitude that you would on full shots (perhaps both are the same)? Ever been in the situation that I’ve heard many tour winners talk about where their hands were literally shaking over a putt to win?
Robbo asked: Having played on the big stage, do you get into that mode of “not caring” when on the greens or do you simply stay in a process-focused attitude that you would on full shots
Great question…because…how do people who watch us play or even ourselves judge our putting? How do we get graded on it?.. By how many putts we have or how many putts we pour into the hole
That’s pressure- Pressure to make the putt…Pressure to never miss…etc etc
Let me spin a few stories to show some great thought process:… I will start with this one…
Brad Faxon- everyone knows he is a great putter- always has been , always will be. He has the best attitude about putting of anyone I have spoken to or played with.
He grades how good he putts NOT on whether the putt goes in or not BUT by the strike and roll and if he started it on line with the speed he desired…
If he can achieve doing those things then he has done the best he can and the rest is in the lap of the Gods… that’s attitude…and if his first few don’t drop for whatever reason, he is re-affirmed that the law of averages are now with him and they will start pouring into the hole no problem starting with his next putt
That’s why he seems to endlessly hole putts from all over the green from all different angles in all different types of circumstances-- as he treats all putts as a fun event- a challenge to see if he can read the putt, roll the putt and have correct speed on the putt…and that’s it… He doesn’t live or die with the result of any one putt
He can’t beat himself up over the result then because he has done all he can and he understands greens aren’t perfect and there can be many influences on the ball… so he never changes his attitude… never tells himself he’s an idiot
As far as his routine-
he picks his line-
he practice strokes whilst looking at the hole for a visual of his start line and his speed-
He slides the putter in behind the ball and wiggles his feet into a comfortable position-
He takes a couple of looks to reassert his brain and just about as soon as he takes his last look and brings his eyes back to the ball…he starts the putter back
He has really no technical thought about the stroke- he just lets his hands/arms/body react to what his eyes are telling him
So he works on a lot of basic terrific ideas and makes sure every putt is just a putt and that’s it- they are all of equal importance… you either hit the next one in the hole or you pick it out of the cup
Thanks for that great example. Really good food for thought, and not too difficult to understand. I can’t tell you how many times I’m NOT using that mind-set!
After a horrible performance on the greens in a 2-day event last weekend which basically didn’t allow me to capitalize on 2 days of good ball-striking I’m re-assessing my whole approach to putting (which has been mediocre at best even when I’ve been “hot”). I’m throwing out everything I’ve studied, worked on, and read about in regards to the mechanical side of it and plan to find a way that works “for me” to get my putts started on line and with good speed. I don’t care what it looks like or what anyone else thinks about what I come up with. (I have an idea of what I plan to do and it probably won’t fall into the totally orthodox category, but initial results have been positive). Faxon’s mental approach makes total sense and I don’t see how one could possibly go wrong using that mental approach.
Thanks for that insight.
Kind of like the full swing. The ball only cares what happens to it at impact. If the hole gets in the way, then great. If it doesn’t and you made a great stroke, then “kay cera”. Out of your control.
Again I like how you think Robbo, “find a way that works for me” and “don’t care how it’ll looks”. It seems like there is this ‘accepted’ look of putting these days, you know, the square everything, pure pendulum, motionless wrists. Nicklaus, Player, Arnie,… obviously found strokes that worked for them and surely in their pursuit of excellence their stroke would have evolved into the blueprint we see today, IF it was the best way to putt.
Thanks Steb. I assure you that one thing borne of ABS for me is I have quit trying to create a swing that “looks right”. I have wasted so much of my golfing life dis-liking certain things that didn’t “look right” in my swing (but in actuality were good) and expending so much energy trying to fix them to no avail and probably to my detriment.
I think my whole thinking about the game has changed as a result of a year on this site and it may have freed me up to search for a putting method that might not look pretty but that’s more effective than the orthodox stuff I keep chasing in hopes it will be the “fix”.
Ironically, your mention of the old-timers very much relates to the putting approach I’m experimenting with. It was the result of an off-hand discussion I had recently with a guy that knows Miller Barber and Don January personally and has played with both. He’d commented about January’s putting style and the next day I sort of said “what the hell, let me mess with that approach”. I assure you it was something I’ve never tried before but it seemed so damn logical. Anyway, I won’t get to test it under any meaningful conditions until this weekend but I’m anxious to see what happens with it. A hint… look at the lie angle on the old 8802 style putters.
Those dudes from the prior era sure were good. I just wish I’d paid more attention.
Lag has touched on this and we had a long conversation the other day about it—and it had to do with having a slight loop in the stroke… Norman did it, Locke did it, Crenshaw did it
I think there is great logic to it-- BECAUSE-- it makes the putting stroke more of a HIT than a push or a stroke
When we hit a full shot we love to feel the strike, the force, the blow of the ball on the club- when we putt we don’t get that… we are told smooth, low, slow, hit up, left wrist firm and so on
If we naturally feel the need to HIT a full shot why would we want to do something different with a putt or a chip for that matter
The little loop or constant motion of the stroke makes the putter strike through with force… there is a rap to the stroke… Norman and Crenshaw and Nicklaus and Faxon all did it from open stances… Locke and Palmer and Player did it from a closed stance
But the one thing they all had in common was a pop into the ball…a force…a rap… throw Aoki and Casper in to the rap strike stab style of putters
I understand the greens were worse in the older days and they say this hit down rap style of putting was a result of that-- however it works in my opinion on all surfaces because it is more in tune with an actual swing and therefore easier to feel and repeat.
When you stand there all day and work on square to square and put sticks on the ground and rulers up your wrist you are working against everything your natural body hitting instincts want to do-- and I hate to say that is probably a good candidate for the yips or bad putting if you don’t have hours a day every week to get that fight perfected. ALL the best putters have had a natural HIT strike- no left hand domination… no right hand domination… just a strike with both
I think we can throw some twist of fate in also and use some ground forces when putting…that is a constant I have seen among good putters… they keep their base solid
The other thing among great putters is a short follow through.
That short follow through is a direct result of the rap/strike/punch/HIT on the ball… show me someone with a long follow through and I’ll show you someone who has trouble putting consistently because they have a different feel for the strike each and every day they play…a la Sergio
Hopefully someday, Bradley and I will release
Advance Putt Rolling!
I really have learned a lot of good stuff… and I hope that someday I can put it all together into something that will work for all of us…
When I won at Windsor years ago… I was making putts like crazy… as Bradley as a witness!.. and my stroke was very unorthodox… Alvie Thompson’s lesson was really changing for me… and I know there was great merit in what he was saying.
I took notes of it… and have them around somewhere… but I never once aimed the blade down the line… I basically Trevino-ed it all week on the greens aiming at least 20 degrees left of the line and push blocked the putts into the hole all week. It worked great for 3 weeks… then left like a thief in the night …
I putted like that again last week playing with Barkow, and just started rolling the ball again really well… and just made all kinds of putts. Just focusing on seeing the line, and feeling the speed with a big loop, putting the ball way into the neck of the putter, and then looping it inside out, blocking it down the line.
I got to thinking about opposing forces again, and I asked Al what kind of actual putterheads did the greats use … and after going through a few names… we realized that the majority of great putters used pure heal shafted putters… and I my feeling is that a heel shafted putter is going to give you more resistance to work off, than a center shafted putter. I think Al agreed there was something to it… I have never used a true heel shafted putter… so I put one together the other day… an old Tommy Armour Ironmaster… stuck at telephone pole shaft in it… as I really don’t see any advantage to a whippy putting shaft… I filled it up with table salt… to get the overall weight of the club up… as Watson and Seve and Moe did.
And I will give it a go and see if I can feel something new. I even flattened it out a bit… so who knows…!
Last year I putted really well for a couple of weeks with an old vintage cleek which you really had to rap to get to work. I stopped having let the constant jokes about me chipping the ball into the hole distract me from its effectiveness - what a stupid I am
I am very glad I have finally heard someone of repute say this.
Heh Arnie, I used a putter like that Cleek in a Hickory golf tournament I played in once and loved it. It looked like it had about 10 degrees of loft on it, but it just rolled so well and it felt so much easier to line up.
But I refuse to putt into an impact bag.
Not sure if this is right Steb but I found the extra loft allows you to hit down on the ball more authoritively without worrying about negative loft. I think there might be something about that in Als’s putting e-book. Almost feels like you are compressing the ball. I once played in a pro-am and the pro kindly offered to reduce the loft of my putter afterwards to 2 degrees and I never putted well with it ever again
I have my own views on putting that I have garnered from reading, listening and observing.
In no particular order they are:
Most people putt with putters that are far too long for them. I like my arms to hang comfortably from my shoulders, I don’t want a bend in my elbows to accomodate a too long putter 35" long. A simple experiment is to grip much further down the grip and see whether that feels more comfortable.
For putts of under 8 feet straight back, straight through works. Longer than that I like a small arc.
Ball position is crucial as well. If you are struggling from distance then try moving the ball to the middle of your stance.
Modern theory is that the putt should be made using a body motion rather than a shoulders motion, with the arms packed into the body. I don’t go in for this myself but through it have developed a great little drill. Get a bungy cord and loop it round your body so that it traps your elbows to your side, make a few putting motions for a while. When you remove the cord you feel a good connection still.
Find a putter you like the look of and stick with it, have a back up so you can ‘punish’ your main putter every so often by leaving it out of the bag. If you like the looks of it and it is the right length do not worry whether it is centre shafted, heel shafted, a blade design or looks like the starship enterprise - it is unimportant what it looks like, all that matters is you hole out with it! Great putters have used every type of design, there is no common denominator so don’t feel you have to have one particular type because someone said so.
Never engage in negative talk on the greens. Feel like you will hole everything and when you miss one, smile and say that increases your percentages for the next green. “If you think you can or you think you can’t - you’re right” holds true for pretty much everything in life and definitely putting. Also, you have to love every surface you putt on. Love fast greens, slow greens, bumpy greens, smooth greens and everything inbetween.
Thats as much as I will do today, I may add more as it crosses my mind. If it helps just one person, it will have been worthwhile.
Another point of view from Ian Baker-Finch
He has always been regarded as an outstanding putter. very rare were the days he didn’t putt well. I spent hundreds of hours with Finchy and asked him a lot about his putting. His key thoughts, what he ingrained in himself to putt so well all the time… Here they are listed below:
- Keep the hands close together, so they work as one unit. His grip was very bunched, in close and tightknit, so no one hand dominated the other
- He always put his ball down with all WHITE showing…no name brand, no markings, nothing…so that wouldn’t influence the brain on his alignment or stroke thoughts
- He kept the putter low back and low through with a pop style stroke—again like I have mentioned before- he gave the ball some type of rap, so it felt like a shot to him
- He kept a piece of paper in his wallet that said…“I am the greatest putter in the world”… he believed it and if his putting went sour he would get it out and read it and re-affirm that thought in his head
Pretty basic good stuff…not technical… and certainly he putted by instinct-- and let his brain and first thoughts dictate the line, speed and feel of the stroke and then just let it go… he smiled if they missed and more often than not didn’t have to worry about that as all we saw was his rear end in the air plucking the ball from the hole.
Putting to him was just like being a little kid…working on instinct with no fear of the end result
This all ties in with something about Duval and his putting when he was on top of the world which I will relate next
Dave Stockton talks about the new putters not having enough loft. In his video," Putt To Win", he talks about having enough loft—which I believe he said he putts with 4 degrees loft–so he can do his forward press. Are you familiar with any vintage putters that have at least 4 degrees loft? Thanks…littlealm
I think most vintage putters (?? pre 1985??) …if that is entitled to be called vintage…will have more loft than today’s standard putters
They used to put more loft on putters because the greens weren’t as true or smooth … you will see like AArnie mentioned…many of the older players prior to this era hit DOWN on the ball … the loft and the force of the hit got the ball rolling across the grass on even the worst of surfaces…
the stroke of today that we see holing putts from all over the planet didn’t work well on those rougher surface
SO…if that older style wristier pop stroke worked well on the poorer surfaces…why shouldn’t it work just as well …if not better…on today’s more manicured surfaces?
Less loft is going to make the ball skid backwards before it starts to actually begin to roll which can make it veer off line quite easily as a skid makes the ball slow down and be more susceptible to bounces off line-- slo mo putting video proves that
Some loft on the putter will actually fly the ball in the air slightly and then it starts rolling on the surface and gets rolling end over end faster than with the less loft putter
All makes sense to me-- it shouldn’t matter if the greens are good, bad or indifferent… the quicker you can get the ball to roll end over end the better you can control speed and direction–hopefully you see that thought
There may be close ups of putts rolling on youtube or somewhere to show this…I’ll take a look when I can unless someone else comes up with one to show the difference between a rolling putt and a skidding putt and how loft or hand/face position at impact relates to this
I played a fair bit with Baddeley. He has always been recognized as a great putter. And he is and the stats year in and year out prove it.
I spent an hour or so discussing his putting with him once to get an insight into what makes him tick when he putts. He had some great thoughts. Hard to put into affect for many but very good thoughts nonetheless.
- He doesn’t really read the break too much… he looks at it from a couple of angles and feels the putt more than being way too precise and identifying it down to the inch or the blade of grass
- When he has made up his mind on his somewhat intended line he stands behind the ball and makes a practice stroke or two …not down the line of the putt but at a 90 degree angle, so he is looking at the line with his eyes but practice stroking away from the path
- Once he feels the correct length, speed, power of the stroke in his minds eye…he puts his head down and walks straight up to the ball and addresses it… WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE HOLE!!!
********* In other words he trusts his instinct and his brain and his sizing up of the putt to just go step into the ball without being technical and lining his club up…NOTHING… just reacts to what he has already told himself
- He DOES NOT look at the hole…he just draws the putter back and lets his stroke go
I think we can all learn a lot from his idea. He picks his line…he sets up on instinct and he fires the putter quickly-- NEVER giving his preconceived thoughts of line and speed or feel a chance to be altered by having another look at the hole…It’s pretty amazing. I tried it and it works incredibly well from inside 10 feet. I had a hard time getting the flow for it on longer putts as I couldn’t trust myself to allow my mind to just set up for me and let it go… I kind of wanted to take another look…
Really seems to blend in with Lag’s idea of address the ball , and GO when hitting full shots
Give it a shot…It sort of works in with how we normally go about things on the practice green when we are fooling around. We pick a quick line, look, aim and fire. And normally make everything without really trying. And it;'s a great way to let your instincts take over and not get all caught up in technicality.
I haven’t watched him of late to see if he still does that style to that degree. I did see him somewhere last year sneaking a look or two before he took the putter away, so maybe he is starting to lack some confidence in it…?? don’t know but it is probably a reaction to his ball striking deteriorating and some confidence loss all around
I was out of town when this thread started, and somehow missed it.
On another thread, I was told of the “dowel drill” by Styles, which I have been practicing. I must admit I was very poor at the beginning , but I am seeing improvement in terms of seeing the dowel move in a straight line. In teh beginning, most were going about 10 inches, then turning right.
I am wondering if this is one of those “just fool with it” drills…or is there a prescribed dose of reps that you have found you like, and what does one expect as proficiency is gained? For instance, out of ten strikes, how many times will the dowel go staright if you are getting good? 5? 7? 9? 10? thanks/eagle