JACK NICK­LAUS

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Golf Digest - PuttinG

Strat­egy for tough open­ers.

SET YOUR EYES. QUIET YOUR BODY, ROLL THE BALL

I liked blade put­ters for the long­est time, but I couldn’t make any­thing late last year, so it was time for a change. At The Bar­clays tour­na­ment, I switched to a Scotty Cameron Fu­tura X5 mal­let just to try some­thing dif­fer­ent, and it has been in my bag ever since. It’s re­ally help­ing me keep the face square to my putting line. An­other thing I changed was my rou­tine. Un­less it’s a su­per-long putt, I don’t take a prac­tice stroke. I get a feel for the speed be­hind the ball, then I walk up, ad­dress the ball and make a stroke (be­low). When you don’t spend too much time over the ball, your nat­u­ral hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion kicks in.

Me­chan­i­cally, two ar­eas that will help your ac­cu­racy are get­ting your eye line right, and qui­et­ing your body when you hit the putt. To get your eye line cor­rect, it needs to be level – any head tilt can al­ter the putting path – and your left eye should over the ball. To check this, drop a ball from the bridge of your nose (near, left). It should land on the ball you’re ad­dress­ing (or re­ally close to it). And when you make a stroke, ev­ery­thing but your shoul­ders and arms should stay very still.

To make putting prac­tice less bor­ing, I have all sorts of games and drills. Like I’ll hit four putts us­ing only one ball from five dif­fer­ent spots be­tween four and eight feet from the hole. The game ends when I make at least 16 out of 20. Give that game a try, and re­mem­ber my other green­side tips to see if you can’t get your scores down. Way down.

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