Putting long and short?

So you’re struggling to get a handle on the speed of the greens. You’re hitting putts both long and short of the hole and you have no feel. It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

You have a couple of options in this instance. Here’s the first…

… you can try and mentally figure out the line and the speed. You can pace back and forth and take a lot of practice strokes to hardwire the right distance into your brain. You can stress and worry and generally take a long time before you putt (like a lot of golfers you see on T.V). It could be that you treat each putt like a maths problem – you try and figure out how far back to take the putter and how much force you need to apply. Then you’re really careful to make sure you execute the putt as desired.

There’s no doubt a lot of golfers putt this way. And if you practice a lot you can get quite good at putting this way – you might even become a really good putter. But I think it’s an exhausting way to putt. It takes effort and burns a lot of energy (and brain cells) and can cause your system to go into meltdown. Here’s an easier way…

If I asked you to toss a ball to me you’d look at me and make the throw. The ball would find the target. If I moved further away (or closer) the same rule would apply – look at the target and throw. You wouldn’t worry about how far away I was standing or what your elbow position was. Nope, you’d simply look and throw. I like to use the throwing exercise to give golfers a different perspective for putting and haven’t yet met a golfer who can’t grasp the concept.

And putting should be this simple. Look where you want the ball to go and then putt the ball. There’s no need to think too much about the line or analyse how hard you have to hit the ball. Look and putt.

Your internal learning system will take care of all the details, like figuring out how hard to swing the putter (in the same way your brain figures out how fast to swing your arm when you toss the ball). This is working with your learning system and making golf easier, not harder. I have never seen a golfer putt worse this way, but plenty find a spark or a much needed injection of “feel” and confidence.

The hardest part for any serious golfer is giving up some control. The adult brain likes to think and analyse (especially if you’re the “accountant” type) and doesn’t like letting go and playing instinctively. But better golf performance happens when you take stuff away, not add to it.

The golf world is full of all sorts of gadgets, new putters and theories you can try. But nothing is better suited to rolling the ball along the grass than your inbuilt learning mechanism. Look where you want the ball to go and then putt. The final step is to repeat. Keep going until putting this way is automatic.

It’s not foolproof (nothing is). You’ll still miss the odd short putt and you may three-putt from time to time but I know your misses will be minimised. You can putt way better without having to practice for long hours or changing putters constantly. Look and shoot. It’s as complicated as putting needs to be.

If you’re interested in better putting then you’ll enjoy my full Perfect Putting System.

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  • Adam

    Reply Reply October 2, 2014

    I like this. Look and hit. Its like (what you said) throwing a ball to a target. You look and react. People like to work on straight back and straight through stroking, but if youre not focused on the hole its likely it wont get there. Focus on the target, not the stroke, because if youre focused on the stroke your attention is away from the hole, so you wont have much chance of getting it there. Target oriented practice is perfect. Just like range time. It should be target practice. If you can hit targets consistently then youll become a better golfer. Putting green chipping is tge same way. The best way to practice is to hit targets. This is how you can improve your game easily using the range. What are your thoughts on practice cameron?

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