I've shared my putting woes with you here, so now I want to share some new insight into that part of the game that I have just gained.
I've always been a "range rat" — I just love hitting balls and learning more and more about my swing. As a result, I've always been a pretty solid ball-striker. My driving and iron play have been my strengths my entire golf life. It probably goes back to the advice my father gave me when I was very young. "There's nothing wrong with your game that another 5,000 practice balls won't fix," he would repeatedly tell me. And I took that to heart and pounded balls by the hundreds daily it seems.
But I've never applied that same philosophy to my putting. Duh. I've been struggling with the yips, and have had plenty of advice on how to beat them, mostly unsolicited. But this past week, two things I have learned in my life seemed to come together to give me a new perspective.
First, last fall I had the opportunity to listen to a full day presentation by Dr. Rick Jensen, renowned sports psychologist. Part of his topic was on the subject of "you're not good enough to choke." What he meant was that most are too quick to apply the "choke" label, when what really happened is that the golfer didn't have his or her skills polished to an adequate level. It was a very interesting angle on the subject. I highly recommend his books.
The other piece of the puzzle came in a small book that I received over the weekend. In "How To Make Every Putt", Dr. Joseph Parent advocates practicing your putting like you do everything else. Work on your fundamentals, where a hole is not even in the picture. Approach learning how to make solid, sound putting strokes like you do making solid, sound full swings.
So, putting these two together, I took my 100-ball bucket to the practice green Tuesday afternoon and hit about 500 putts. Various distances, no target ... just making good solid strokes, evaluating and correcting, until I felt my routine and technique were gelling to something I could count on. It was as much fun as going to the range, to be honest. A concentrated practice session that was totally focused on the process, not the outcome.
Yesterday, before our tournament practice round, I took that same drill to the practice green. I put down six balls and putted them different distances, but never to one of the holes on the green. Just practicing my technique and routing, rhythm and tempo. Then I finished my putting warm up by making about 15-20 putts of not more than 2 feet. I wanted fresh feedback of the ball going into the hole.
The result was one of my better putting rounds in recent history. The tournament starts today and I'll let you know Tuesday how this carries into competition.
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Sounds good, but no way I could practice putting for that long.
Mr. 3 putt
Good article... I think an abbreviated version of this practice session would help my game out.
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