TRY TO MAKE EVERYTHING
UNLOCK YOUR PUTTING WITH A SIMPLER APPROACH
▶ All week at the 2016 US Open at Corde Valle in California – where I won my first major – I was working on two things with my putting: staying down and fully committing to every putt. Reading the putt on 16 during the final round, tied for the lead, my brother, Luke, and I picked a line we liked: a ball out left. I committed to that line completely, and just let it roll. That mindset helped me drop the putt and take the lead.
I’m never mechanical with my putting when I play. It’s just this ball in that hole. But your putting has to be grounded in some mechanics. I’ve worked with Dave Stockton, and he’s big on the left hand (for righties with a traditional grip) being the aim hand. So the left hand is super important to me. I like to hit practice putts left-hand-only, isolating the feeling of the left hand in control. My putting grip is left index finger over right pinkie, which gives me the feeling of the back of my left hand going to the hole.
Where the left hand goes is where the ball goes.
I also like the stroke being equal on both sides (photos). I don’t want to take the putter back short and make a long through-stroke, or go back too far and have to decel coming through. Here’s a drill I like to work on when I practice. Put a tee just outside the toe of the putter at address, then stick a second tee 10 centimetres behind it (on the backstroke side) and another 10 centimetres in front (through-stroke side). Hit some short putts, making sure the putterhead doesn’t go past either tee during the stroke. Groove that feeling of the same distance back and through.
The last mechanical key I’ll give you is acceleration. If you’re not accelerating the putterhead through the ball, you’re not a good putter.
When I feel like I’m not accelerating, I’ll go to the practice green and work on taking it back short and exaggerating the motion through the ball. I’ll putt a bunch of three-footers focusing only on acceleration. When I play, I still want equal parts backstroke and through-stroke, but I never want to lose sight of accelerating the club through the ball.
In the end, you have to figure out your best putting style. Practice putting with one ball, and identify the speed you’re most comfortable with. Putt from various distances and breaks. Do you like to have the ball die at the hole? (That works best for me.) Or are you better hitting it with some speed? Once you find out how you like to putt, you’ll develop a feel for distance and start to see break better.
The point I want to leave you with is, the best putters don’t always have the best mechanics. I see too many amateurs trying to copy other putters, trying to imitate what they see on TV. The great ones know what works for them, and they believe they’re going to make putts. Period. If you get yourself thinking that way, you’re going to be a better putter. – with keely levins