How to Unlock Your Putting Potential in 3 Easy Stepsby Dave Nastalski
Photo: Golf, by Tour Miss
Dave Stockton. Dave is one of the highest acclaimed instructors in the business, and has worked with countless PGA, LPGA, and Champions' tour players over the last 20+ years. This post is based off of his book, Unconscious Putting. You can find a digital download here, or hard copy here. I would suggest buying the hard copy and making friends with a highlighter. Keep it pressed to the page...there is a lot of great stuff in there.
FIRST, A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE...
In 2014, Rory McILroy led the tour in putting average with 1.71 putts per hole, which brought him home over 12 million dollars in tournament earnings alone.
Lucas Glover averaged 1.84 and made a little over 200k. Not a bad living, but that small differential is still dynamic and telling:
Just over a tenth of a putt per hole difference in scoring, but nearly 12 million dollars difference in salary. Whoa.
Whether you're playing for 12 million or $1.20 Nassau, you can't escape the facts.
Tour players average 29 putts per round and amateurs average 36+, with many taking over 40. Regardless of whether you shoot 65 or 95, you're still taking roughly 40 percent of your strokes with a putter!
But most people, (if they practice at all), are seen with a driver in their hands beating balls wildly on some tee top with not a clue in the world how it's affecting their game, and score.
You'll hit a driver a max of 14 times on a golf course.
If you want to lower your score, you've got to change the process.
Grab your putter and get to the practice green.
Stockton suggests a few things that really resonated with me. I use the phrase unlock your potential because I believe everyone who has made a putt before, has the ability to make everything. And I think Stockton would agree.
We're not talking about rocket science here. He's very explicit about that in his book. It starts with your signature.
Take out an old scorecard and steal a pencil from a nearby cart. Sign your name at the bottom of the card. Now, right below it, try again. But this time, try to match it exactly. Better go slow.
Not so easy is it?
The conscious mind is often in the way of unlocking your true, rhythmic, and free-flowing potential. Much like signing your name, Stockton suggests having a putting signature too.
For some, this is fast. Some slow. Some long, some short. Some have hooking motions (Bobby Locke) some jab at it (Player, and Palmer) and some are nice and free (Crenshaw). All have won multiple times on Tour and have been at the top of the field with the flat stick.
The truth is, none of this matters at all. The only thing that matters is if the ball started on line, and if you rolled it at the proper pace.
3 EASY STEPS TO UNLOCK YOUR PUTTING POTENTIAL
• Put a ball down and push a tee all the way into the ground 1-2 inches in front of the ball, on your intended line.
• Pick your entry point at the hole and visualize the line the ball will take, all the way from the ball to the entry point.
• Roll the putt directly over that tee in the ground and with a pace runs out no more than 16" by the hole. Judge your success based on those two factors, and not whether the ball dropped or not.
And if you want to put a little "Stockton in your pocket," we know somebody who can help. It's all about the spot in front of the ball!
He suggests a few basic fundamentals that I think every amateur could benefit from.
• Slight forward press initiates the backswing
• Putter swings through the ball and focus on the back of your lead hand (left hand for RH player, right hand for LH PLAYER) running towards, and finishing at the target.
• Keep the putter head low to the ground at the finish!
Give it a try, and expect to unlock your true putting potential. You'll build confidence, and this will help to keep you calm under the gun out on the course. After all, being a great putter is 90% mental, anyways.
If you go out and three-jack the first 3 holes, just remember you've got 15 left to get down in one.