2 Ways to Get Started
It is time to take the skills of putting seriously
They say that putting is 90% mental and most golfers would agree with that but what does it actually mean?
At no other place on the golf course does the fine link between Action and Perception become so telling. It is for this reason that when we practise our putting stroke in isolation, and with golf putting aids, it feels like we are doing well but we are simply not developing the skills required for the task at hand.
Here is a run down of the top golf putting skills you will need to become the 'Boss of the Moss'.
Simply put. all these factors (above) get hidden as they are meshed together in every putt that we hit. In an absence of real feedback golfers typically look to their putting stroke (or putter) for answers when underperforming. The challenge is to build a putting practise framework that works on all these areas and provides clear feedback on each sub-skill. Often that means working on an aspect in isolation but ultimately we need to bring the skills back together.
e.g If you were to roll a ball with your hand around the putting green then it would give you an accurate view of your green reading ability without the added doubt of stroke mechanics.
Stroke Mechanics or Fine Skill?
"The best putters are making constant 'online' (during stroke execution) adjustments to their strokes"
Often it is easy to gloss over academic research because the findings are of limited use or not connected to the real world. These findings, however, speak volumes to me and in particular, questions the value of working endlessly on the putting stroke out of context to the task of putting across a slope.
Click the link above for a podcast interview with Dr Rob Neal where he discusses his research of the world's best putters. Please bear in mind that Rob's study is on movement only and there are numerous psychological factors that will influence how your stroke performs.
We know that great putters deliver the putter face with astounding accuracy and consistency but from what we know about Motor Control (and this study), this does not mean that the stroke is a robot like action with no variability (as is the mainstay of putter coaching). To the contrary, the study shows that the best putters have a high level of adaptability and compensatory movements.
Of course, we would all like an action that is as repeatable as possible but this is not crafted through endless repetition on a straight putt with a chalk line to guide us. The drills in this course are designed to help you learn in a way that hones the putting action in synergy with the other, more subtle skills that affect how you move the putter. Notably, focus, green reading, alignment, mindful concentration.
As you can probably guess, I wouldn't work overly hard on complex stroke mechanics but what is important is that you are constantly re-calibrating your perception of stroke and alignment. That is a key principle of the 'True Putting' Course.
It is extremely common for golfers to aim their putter poorly and then either pull or push the ball back to their intended line. Often it is the other way round; the brains capacity to adapt causes the player to aim offline to allow for a dominant pull or push action. Either way, it is not ideal for long term putting success. The act of calibrating is to simply hit a few balls along tram lines to pull your perception and your stroke into line. This needs to be done as often as possible but only for a few minutes at a time. It is not the same as working on heavy mechanics.
This is an area that gets completely over looked yet good players typically trace most of their poor putting stokes down to some form of mental error during the putting process.
Striking a putt so that the line on the ball rolls true and end over end can be an incredibly effective way to train your concentration and putter control.
As you work on this drill you will be implicitly training your ability to stay focused on the core aspects that affect the outcome (alignment, intended line and club face). When you subsequently face a tricky downhill left to right putt under the pressure of game play, you will then be able to stay 'with the task' and focus on the line and let's face it, after you have set the ball on your intended line, there is nothing more you can do.
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Dr. Noel Rousseau