There are plenty of club-golfers out there with not so perfect strokes, and there are excellent pros on P.G.A. Tours around the World and through the history of the game with “loopy or not so perfect strokes”.
I experienced a classic example of this in person last Monday.
I gave a lesson to Joan who had previously purchased The Truth About Putting System and had success implementing some aspects into her game.
Joan was in the same city as me (Sydney, Australia), so, instead of exchanging emails, we exchanged words – in person. I gave her a playing lesson.
We started on the putting green. She had many doubts about her technique – as people had “critiqued” her “different looking style” in the past. This had dented her confidence.
As mentioned, Joan’s technique, specifically her alignment and stroke, where not textbook; however, she did posses a few essential elements that all very good putters have.
Many golf instructors and most club-golfers who saw Joan putting would have told her what was wrong with what they saw (aesthetics), which was:
1. She aimed the putter face way right, along with her foot alignment
2. She pulled across the ball (because she was aiming right)
Joan has been playing for 8 years and I was not going to tear apart her putting stroke and set-up and consequently – destroy her putting, I have seen this happen. Contrary to popular opinion, a straight-back straight-through stroke, is not at the top of the list when it comes to making putts. There are other more crucial elements that are the keys to staying – or becoming – an excellent putter.
What did I instruct her to do?
I stuck to the Truth About Putting principles which are:
Read (R-1): Joan wasn’t reading all her putts from behind the ball (do this on the putting green too).
Routine (R-2): she needed the discipline of going through her “reading routine” each time – from behind the putt (she needed to do here homework before each putt; this takes effort; like with most things in life, if you put the effort in, you get rewarded)
React (R-3): over the ball she didn’t take too much time – which is good
Review (R-4): could improve on her discipline to review 1, 2 and 3 after each putt (again, this takes discipline to be introspective after the hole has been played…you give an honest review, and then set about applying what was learned to upcoming putts/holes)
Joan is a good putter from inside 15 feet, she made some nice putts out on the course. She has a little work to do on the long putts. Simply, practising long putts on the putting green will help her feel – and this applies to all of us.
Was I a bad coach for not changing her alignment and stroke?
Whenever she went through her routine and had an “intention” of where the putt should go at the correct speed, the ball went in. This is what I worked on with her.
The ball went in because she aimed the putt well with her eye and secondly, she had excellent tempo to her putting stroke. Excellent tempo is a result of the correct reading, reaction and free-flowing stroke, and, WAY more important than whether you putter-blade goes back on a straight path.
Her mind – her focus – was ORIENTATED towards the target. By focusing on “the things that matter”, she is NOT focused on useless technical mind-babble, that is the downfall of so many well intended golfers.
Also, the correct tempo means the club-face opens and closes at the correct speed. If someone is nervy on a short-putt and slows the putter down on the way through, this happens:
1. The ball doesn’t have the speed to stay on the intended line
2. The blade and the stroke is “corrupted”; it doesn’t close at the right speed
It doesn’t matter how neat your stroke looks, or how ugly it is, join good tempo up with the correct line and ball-speed, and there is only one place where the ball will be ending up, underground!
A month or so later, her email to me…
Go work on the “things that matter” in putting, work on reading and feeling the line and speed, then react to this feeling. The putts will go to the hole.
If you would like to learn more about the process that is at the core of what the best putters in the World do on the greens, and what helped bring out Joan’s true putting ability, check out The Truth About Putting information page.