For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties …. well, you know what to do!
My students run the gamut from a young professional player that is playing mini tours, to raw beginners, and everything in between.
One current student is a very good player that needed some fine tuning on his ball striking, and needed a major re-do on his putting method.
I tell this story because his issues commonly apply to intermediate and good players that are doing research and trying to improve aspects of their game.
The problem areas were a lack of confidence, lack of structure in his approach to putting, grip and posture issues, and a very mechanical stroke.
We addressed each issue as follows: Lack of confidence – This was easy. I simply asked him to remove all negative self talk and to consider himself to be a very good putter. In fact I formaly ordained him as a good putter. Putting is an area where you can become as good as the pro’s if you can put the practice time in, but you’ll never get there if you don’t have a high opinion of yourself. Always think of yourself of as a good putter (or better)
Lack of structure – Again, this was easy. We found a good grip, good address position, good weight distribution, good shaft angle – I call it the impact fix position for putting – and a good stroke path. All easy to adapt to and to practice. Yes, I said practice – all of these positions need to be second nature, and they get to that point by being practiced.
A very mechanical stroke – This is an issue that plagues many players that try to improve on their own. The problem is a lack of “swing” or “feel” in their stroke. They are so restricted mentally by their perception of being a bad putter that they become too careful in their stroke. Their stroke turns into a pushing or shoving motion with a flip at the end, totally devoid of rhythm and tempo. They usually leave a majority of their putts short of the mark. Their stroke looks – and is – so stiff that there is very little chance that it will start out on line, and lag control is even worse.
It’s hard to watch because you can almost feel their pain. This player was having a tough time getting through an aimline drill that is part of my lesson until I asked him to try to feel that he was swinging the putter, not aiming it. When he transformed his thoughts and his stroke, he rolled ten perfectly straight putts in a row. I felt his self belief growing with each perfect putt, and that’s a good feeling for both player and teacher.
The moral of the story is to “think swing” when you stroke a putt – with this caveat: keep your hands and arms firmly set in good impact positions and move the swing with your shoulders.
Here’s a good drill to practice to feel a swinging putting motion- line up about ten balls and then stroke each putt rhythmically with your right hand only (rear hand), maintaining some dorsiflexion in your right wrist (don’t let it break down) to guard against a flip at impact.
The professional player that I mentioned that’s playing mini tours is Chris Carroll, a Buffalo area native that currently teaches golf in the NYC area. He comes back to Buffalo a couple times a month and we get together for lessons. He just got a major break from a company that sponsors promising players. They took him into the fold and are sponsoring him on a mini tour circuit, and if he does well thay said they’d sponsor him for “Q” School. Kind of neat to have a local guy with an opportunity like this, I’ll keep all of you posted on his progress – and good luck Chris.
Love your practice, enjoy your golf,