How 74 year old, 18 handicapper, Ray, went from multiple 3-putts on the front 9 to making 5 putts between 6 and 20ft on the back 9

Ray’s story…A lesson on what to focus on when putting

I had an interesting experience at my local golf course in a Wednesday competition a few years ago. At the time I was writing a putting report which later evolved into The Truth About Putting Report.

I’m on the 4th Green waiting to try and make my 20-foot birdie putt as Ray, a playing partner, putts from around 25-feet.
The putt Ray had was very flat, with a hint of right-to-left break. Ray putted and the ball flashed past the hole – coming to rest nearly off the green at least 12-feet from the hole!

I looked up a little stunned and said to Ray as he walked by, “What were you thinking about there?”

A simple question, but sadly, not many golfers ask it of themselves.

When I see a person miss a putt by such a margin, I know they are focused on the wrong thoughts while over the ball…Because your thoughts – your focus – directly affects the outcome of the putt.

Ray shrugged off my question with some laughter. I continued, “what were you thinking about?”
“Well, I was just trying to hit-up-on-the-ball” (as one of our other playing partners does when he putts). This is done to get top-spin on the ball – as many golf commentators talk about achieving.

Now I broke a rule of golf here (which I never usually do) by saying a few words to him (technically, advising him, which is a no no under the rules). I had been writing about the Truth About Putting Principles that had served me so well over many years so I wanted to give a few words and see how he would respond.

I said to Ray, “Why don’t you focus on the target? Focus on the line and the hole.” I know, not a revolutionary idea, but an essential focus that many golfers who have been playing for many years swap for other fancier things to focus on such as trying to produce a perfect stroke or some tip-of-the-day.

Putt to the hole like a Hunter throws at his prey. Be target-orientated.

Unfortunately, commentators broadcast and magazines publish wisdom such as: hit the ball with top-spin or putt with your shoulders.
It shifts golfers focus away from thinking/feeling about the most important elements of good putting – the line/target and speed.

I didn’t look at his stance, stroke, grip, putter or eye position. They all contribute to putting but compared with the INTENTION of the player, their impact is minor.

Remember, you can only think of one thing at once, so it’s your choice, focus on putting top-spin on the ball to no precise target, worry about what side not to miss the putt on, worry about what your wrists, hands and stroke are doing (or dozens of other mechanical elements of putting), or, be focused on the line, speed and hole; instead of being mechanicical, repsond to the target like the hunter. See it, feel it, react and putt the ball along the line to the hole.

As a consequence of focusing and reacting to the target and line selected, your stroke will be much better (but you don’t want to think about controlling the stroke consciously, you’ll short-circuit your natural feel for the putt). Your stroke should be unconsciously competent. If you want to work on the competent part of that equation, do so on the practice putting-green, not on the course. Train it then trust it.

Back to the story…
I step up to my ball…I had a really good read; it seemed as though I saw a path for the last 5-feet up to the hole. (It had some length, 25 feet, but very inviting; a slight break to it and the putting surface was perfect.)

I putted…The ball rolled away quickly at first then slowed down as it rolled onto the path I saw before putting. It kept rolling and zeroing-in…It went up to the left edge of the hole, nuzzled in close, took one last roll and dropped in! Phew, nice to see it go in after preaching about how to do it!

Ray started making solid two-putts through the eighth hole, and then on the ninth (after he double-hit a chip!), he made a 15-foot putt from just off the green.
On the 10th he rolled in another one from the same distance. He hit a 30-foot putt from off the green stone-dead on the 11th.

He then had a couple of two putts before making:

  1. a 25-foot putt on 14
  2. an 8-foot putt on 15
  3. a 6-foot putt on 17 and to top it off…
  4. he made a super-fast, downhill putt from 20ft on the 18th green, that had 4-feet of break!

I had said nothing to Ray about putting since the 4th hole – apart from giving applause for his excellent putting.

I shared a few more tips with him after the game and asked him what he was thinking about when he was putting?
He said he was concentrating on reading the line to the hole then putting the ball across it to the hole.
He said he was more FOCUSED on reading the putts. Well what do you know!


I hope you got some useful tips out of that real-life story. Can you see how a focus on technique takes your focus off the things that matter – the line and target (determining the speed comes about through a reading the line).

You can only focus on one thing at once, and your target should be right up the top of the list of things to focus on.

Target Focus

Of course, everyone knows this, but quite often these absolute essentials are replaced in one’s brain (as with Ray) by common technical keys (sidetracks) such as putting topspin on the ball or being self-conscious about the perfect stroke.
Ray putted well for 9 holes – which is great, but if Ray wants to wipe 2-6 shots off his average score permanently, he needs to learn more about:

  • Putting under pressure
  • How to get back good-putting when it goes (as it does)
  • How to practice properly
  • Why he putted well (so he can replicate it)
    And much more

Good putting and go use those target-focused putting-tips as soon as possible.

Still reading?

Great, I have another putting-essentials story…It’s about club-golfer Joan, and it continues the theme of focusing on the most important things in putting (which deliver the results), instead of being obsessed with equipment, quick fixes, and a perfect putting-stroke.

Remember in Ray’s story, I simply changed his focus from stroke, to line and target, and you know what happened. If you want more detailed information in video and text, read about the Truth About Putting Training Course.

Here is Joan’s Amazing story: You don’t have to aim at the hole to have 24 putts for 18 hole