During a round last week, I putted poorly on the front nine. So, I decided to finish the round by putting with whatever club I used hitting into the green. So I mostly putted using my hybrid, 7 iron, and wedge. After the round, I told my brother that I putt worse with my putter than any club in my bag. He was kind and just nodded.
A few days later, I read a fascinating article about Brad Faxon helping Rory McIlroy with his putting. Faxon told Rory to meet him with his putter, sand wedge, and 5-wood at the putting green. Then, Rory had to putt three times with each club to a hole about 8 feet away. Rory made only one with his putter, made two with his wedge, and all three with his 5-wood.
Reading this was spooky … very similar to what I just experienced. And what Faxon said to Rory really resonated … “It needs to be instinctive.”
I’d gotten so mechanical that I could hardly putt. I was pretty good with long putts … just took a quick look and just knocked it up there. But with makeable putts, I’d get crazy and over-think what to do. Nothing was natural or instinctive. And it showed … my putting was not good.
We’ve all seen basketball players make shots off-balance with a defender in their face … and then miss an easy free-throw at the line. Golf is like a constant free-throw. You have to initiate the shot. You’re not moving around and reacting. Putting is especially like a free-throw … especially the short putts you expect to make. That’s when it’s easy to get too mechanical and stiff.
Arnold Palmer would bring out a trunk-full of putters before he played to see which one “worked”. Lee Trevino said that a new putter worked because it made his hands more sensitive … that he wasn’t used to it. However, Ben Crenshaw used the same putter forever.
A confident putter is a good putter. But, it takes courage to do something when you’re not confident. Don’t get down on yourself when you lose your confidence … rather, admire yourself for having the courage to do it without confidence. The dishonorable thing is to quit.
I just put a new grip on my putter – not a putter grip – instead I put on a normal club grip. And I’m going to grip it with my full-swing grip – not the typical reverse-overlap putting grip. Will it work? Probably for awhile. Then I’ll start to get in my head again and have to find something new.
This was meant to help. If you don’t have putting “issues” … laugh this off. If you do too … send me what works for you!
GM/Head PGA Professional
Deer Run Golf Club
8661 Deer Run Drive
Victoria, MN 55386