Junior Golf Alliance of NY

Jun 302009

Putting should be the easiest and simplest part of the game of golf.  Unlike the full swing, it requires very little in the way of mechanics.  By: Dave Mahoney www.davemahoneygolf.comYou may have noticed someone who practices or plays very infrequently being an excellent putter.  You may have also noticed someone who spends hours on the greens having all kinds of trouble putting.  Deepak Chopra describes this phenomenon well in his book “Golf for Enlightenment”, by stating, “Putting is a control freak’s nightmare.” 

 If you are experiencing putting issues, it is possible that it is more than just a mental issue.  So it is very important that you see a knowledgeable professional.  After working with some of the game’s best putting teachers, I will tell you that a good teacher has a way of making adjustments in your putting stroke that are very simple and easy to understand. 

 After you have spent time ingraining your stroke it is time to work on the mental side of putting.  As with all parts of golf, there comes a time when thinking becomes a block to a player’s success.  In the movie Bagger Vance, the caddie “Bagger”, was working with the golfer Randolph Junah, on getting him to find his “authentic swing”.  It was later stated in the movie that “Bagger” was trying to show Junah how to “stop thinking without falling asleep.”  Junah’s perfect swing was accessed when it wasn’t interfered with by excessive thinking.  This is the state beyond the thinking mind that the greatest mind game coaches are trying to lead their respective golfers to.

 Stopping the excessive thought processes going on in a golfer’s mind is easier said than done for the golfer who is so tightly wrapped up with the results.  Dr. Bob Rotella took the next easiest route by first drawing some comparisons of other sports with the putting stroke in golf.  He would point out that when a basketball player is shooting a jumper in a basketball game, he or she isn’t focusing on the mechanical aspect rather he or she just lets the shot go.  Or the outfielder in baseball that is trying to throw someone out at home plate…  They are surely not thinking about the mechanics behind throwing the ball, they simply look and throw.  In other words, in these sports, the thinking mind is not interfering with the action that is taking place.  Unfortunately golf is not a reaction sport and most of a golfer’s time on the course is spent with their thoughts.  So when it comes time to putt, it is much easier for thought to come in and interfere with a player’s authentic stroke. 

Here are some ways you can move forward if you are still experiencing trouble putting after getting a lesson. 

1. Create a consistent pre-shot routine.  This should include visualization of the ball’s path to the hole, and practice strokes to “feel” the speed.

2. Turn putting into more of a reaction sport.  Dr. Bob Rotella showed me a drill that helps you once you setup to take your putt.  What you do is take one look at the path of the putt, follow it from the hole all the way back to the ball, and without a second thought or look at the hole, start your putting stroke.   This enables a more fluid, natural, feel stroke to take place rather than a mechanical stroke. 

3. Learn how to MAKE every putt.  Peter Jacobsen was once asked how he could handle the fact that he missed a putt on the last hole that could have cost him the tournament.  His remark was “I didn’t miss it, I made the putt, it just didn’t go in the hole.”  So learn how to be disciplined enough to go up to every putt with full commitment and release thoughts from the past.  Control what you can, give each putt your complete focus and attention, and then let go of the results. 

4. Focus on the process, and let the results take care of themselves.  Brad Faxon does not measure his putting success by how many puts he makes, rather he rates himself on how well he mentally prepared and executed every stroke throughout the round.

5. Let go of the thinking and analyzing of your stroke while on the course. 

What we are trying to create here is a new mindset when we walk onto the putting green.  Having fun doesn’t have to be conditioned to making lots of putts.  Learning how to give up control allows you to gain it.  Have fun out there and as always I look forward to hearing how this works for you!