Putting

 

By: J.L. Lewis

 

August 2009

 

 

Harvey Penick once said, "A good putter is a match for anyone, and a bad putter is a match for no one."  According to modern statistics, putting accounts for 40 percent of the strokes taken during a round of golf.  Tiger Woods is the greatest putter of all time, so it is no surprise that he is also the best player the game has ever seen.  In my best year on the PGA TOUR in 2003, I had seven top ten finishes and a victory at the 84 Lumber Classic in Pennsylvania. My putting statistics for that year were the best of my career. Less strokes on the greens led to better scoring.


The importance of making putts is underrated at every level of golf.  For any golfer to reach their scoring potential, extra attention should be given to becoming a better putter. There are several facets to putting which go beyond the physical aspects of fundamentals and mechanics. When a golfer scores well and putts well you will hear them say, "I felt relaxed over the putts today," or, "I had a feeling I was going to make putts," or "I was seeing the line well."


To putt well, mental practice is as important as physical execution. Visualize a putting routine whenever possible, and practice using the same routine on the putting green as on the golf course at least 50% of the time. For example, if you take two practice strokes before each putt on the course, then take two practice strokes on the practice putting green. Jim Furyk is a good example of a great putter that has a deliberate putting routine that he repeats on every putt. 


Being able to stay calm and  relaxed is paramount for good putting execution. There are several methods to improve relaxation.   First, taking several deep breaths, which will have a calming effect as well as provide extra oxygen to your system, which does a plethora of beneficial things for the body.  Meditating for 15 minutes routinely can vastly improve your mental focus and relaxation as well. To meditate, pick a quiet spot, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes without falling asleep, focus on the breath and quiet the mind. As thoughts arise, gently bring the attention back to the breath. With practice this will become easier.  Over time, this increased  ability to relax and focus will transfer to an increased ability to make putts.


For a growing number of people the practice of yoga is the ultimate exercise for calmness and relaxation. The benefits of yoga have been well documented for decreasing stress and improving the ability to handle pressure. This is the perfect exercise for golf and especially putting, because of the nerve control needed to execute the stroke under pressure. While mechanics and proper fundamentals are a part of  the putting stroke, the ability to calm down and execute determines the level of success in putting. Visualization, breath, and practicing yoga, will surely improve putting abilities. A good rule of thumb would be to practice putting mentally the same amount of time as you physically practice putting to achieve better results.

 

 

Return to August edition of News from J.L. Sports, LLC