Every now and then when I am playing, I remember one of the keys that I used to use regularly when competing in golf tournaments. This happened recently when I found myself doing exactly what I encourage my clients not to do, which is follow the ball with your eyes and head as soon as you hit the putt.
Here is a simple exercise next time you are at the course prior to playing. Place approximately five balls about ten feet away from the hole, just so when you assume your set up position you cannot see the hole in your peripheral vision. Now hit a few putts and keep your eyes looking at where the ball was prior to hitting the putt and keep your head still. I call this “staying in the putt”. I want to encourage you to listen for the ball if you hole the putt, I would prefer that you don’t actually see the ball go in (or miss). Then hit another few putts actually moving your head and eyes to follow the ball as soon as you hit the ball and notice the difference in the results, invariably the eyes down and head still will win 9/10 times. Consequently I refer to lifting your head and following the ball too early as “coming out of your putt.”
Next, try another drill. After you hit each putt, count to three (one and two and three) under your breath after you hit the ball—which is a reminder to stay watching the ground until you count to three then you can move your eyes and head slightly to watch the ball.
If you have any questions relating to your putting, please email it to me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will endeavour to answer them in future articles.
Tempo – tempo – tempo
One of the areas I often find myself working on with clients at The Sydney Putting Studio is the tempo of their stroke, it may seem like something I would only do with beginners but that is definitely not true, in fact most professionals I coach end up doing some tempo drills as well.
One of the simpler exercises I ask my clients to do is say the words “One – Two” out loud when they are practicing their putting. This encourages them to be aware when they dramatically change the rhythm or tempo of the stroke.
Irrespective of the length of the stroke or distance of the putt, the relative tempo should remain the same, in other words the “One – Two” you say out loud will be a bit slower but you should notice that there is no real change of pace.
Another training exercise I recommend is downloading and using a free metronome app on your phone. Set it to count between approximately 55 and 65 beats per minute.
A number of years ago, there was a trend going around where players were encouraged to make a shorter backswing and accelerate as they hit the ball. I never subscribed to that theory as I just couldn’t see it being as consistent long-term under pressure.
There is a very extensive putting system which allows professional coaches to record your stroke. The developer of the system, Marius Filmater, recently published a document that demonstrated just how important it is for golfers to balance the length of the back stroke and through stroke and to keep the rhythm constant. I was pleased to read this as it gives credibility to what I teach every day