You don’t need to aim at the hole to have 24 putts for 18 holes

There are plenty of club golfers with not-so-perfect strokes, and there are professionals on P.G.A. Tours around the World and through the history of the game with loopy or not-so-perfect strokes. I experienced an example of this a few years ago.

I gave a lesson to Joan, who had previously purchased The Truth About Putting Training Program and had success implementing aspects into her game.
Joan was in the same city as me (I was in Sydney, Australia at the time), so instead of exchanging emails, we exchanged words in person. I gave her a playing lesson.

We started on the putting green. She had many doubts about her technique – as people had critiqued her peculiar looking style in the past. This had dented her confidence which switched her attention onto mastering the stroke.

As mentioned, Joan’s technique, specifically her alignment and stroke, were not textbook. However, she did possess a few essential elements that all very good putters have.
Many golf instructors and most club-golfers who saw Joan putting would have told her what was wrong with what they saw (aesthetics), which was:

  1. She aimed the putter-face way right, along with her foot alignment
  2. She pulled across the ball (because she was aiming right)

Joan had been playing for 8 years and I was not going to tear apart her putting with changes to her putting stroke and setup which would destroy the vital elements of stroke-tempo and confidence; I have seen this happen before (I wrote an article about the disastrous effect that can follow when focusing too much on mastering the stroke here – witch also features Ernie Els and Gary Player).

Contrary to popular opinion, a straight-back straight-through stroke is not at the top of the list when it comes to making putts. Sure, good to have but there are other more crucial elements to staying or becoming an excellent putter.

What did I instruct her to do?

I stuck to the Truth About Putting principles which are:

  • Read
  • Routine
  • React
  • Review

Read (R-1): Joan wasn’t reading all her putts from behind the ball (*helpful to do this on the putting green too).

Routine (R-2): She needed the discipline of going through her reading routine each time from behind the putt (she needed to do her homework before each putt; this takes effort; like with most things in life, if you put the effort in, you get rewarded).

React (R-3): Over the ball she didn’t take too much time – which is good.

Review (R-4): She could improve on her discipline to review R’s 1, 2, and 3 after each putt. (Again, this takes discipline to be introspective after the hole has been played; its wise to give an honest review and then set about applying what was learned to upcoming putts/holes/rounds).

Joan was a good putter from inside 15 feet; she made some nice putts out on the course. She had a little work to do on the long putts. Simply, practising long putts on the putting green would help her feel; this applies to all of us.

Was I a bad coach for not changing her alignment and stroke?

Whenever she went through her routine and had an intention of where the putt should go at the correct speed, the ball went in. This is what I worked on with her.
The ball went in because she aimed the putt well with her eye and secondly, she had excellent tempo to her putting stroke.

Excellent tempo is a result of the correct reading, reaction, and free-flowing stroke, and WAY more important than whether your putter-blade goes back on a straight path.

Her mind – her focus – was now ORIENTATED towards the target.
By focusing on the things that matter, she is NOT focused on technical, physical commandments that short-circuit the natural message from the brain to the hands to REACT and swing!

Also, the correct tempo means the club-face opens and closes at the correct speed. If someone is nervy on a short-putt and slows the putter down on the through-swing, this happens:

  1. The ball doesn’t have the speed to stay on the intended line
  2. The blade and the stroke is corrupted, it doesn’t close at the right speed

It doesn’t matter how neat your stroke looks or how ugly it is, join good tempo up with the correct line and ball-speed and you will consistently putt well.

A month or so later, her email to me…

Joan wins by 20 shots and has 24 putts in Final round – while not aiming here putter-face at the hole. She knows the REAL ingredients for making putts.

Work on the things that matter in putting

Work on reading and feeling the line and speed, then react to this feeling. The putts will go to the hole. Joan was free! (I demonstrate this in videos in The Truth About Putting Training Course.)

Technical commandments around guiding the stroke or hyper self-awareness of what the hands should be doing, and or, too much anxiety or focus – manifesting negatively by looking up too early or aligning too precisely – is the downfall of many club golfers (and many professionals; see the example of Greg Norman’s Masters collapse on page eleven in The Truth About Putting Report – where this article is from). (Extreme in either way: Too carefree or to carless is detrimental.)

Physical actions triggered by the nervous system work optimally when the conscious part of our brain is quiet.

For example, Joan dropped her focus and doubt about her stroke and replaced it with carrying out her routine which primarily, got her zoned-in on the line and speed before reacting freely to it by swinging the putter. A perfect balance of the freedom to react to something inparticular,without much concern for the result.

This quieting of the mind through optimal routines and clear thinking is at the core of this better understood way of putting in modern times. It’s what great putters understand and practice, and what is taught in The Truth About Putting Training Course.

Enhancing one or more of the following areas will improve your short, medium and long putting:

  • your routines
  • mind-anchoring
  • reading
  • critical analysis
  • technique essentials
  • performing under pressure

All covered in text lessons, 100 page eBook and a 60 x 2-8 minute/videos in sections within The Truth About Putting Training Course. View the information page here.