Warming up your putting stroke before a round (because I never practice)

So why do golfers on the practice green before a round take 2 or 3 balls, drop em and then hit them one after the other toward the same hole without setting up or reading the green?

Putting practice

Useless putting practice

Some people might answer, well, Craig, they’re working on their stroke.

I’m guessing what they mean by stroke is the ability to send the ball down the chosen target line.
Ok, fair enough, but if that is what they really want to do, that’s got to be the least effective way to accomplish that. If I wanted to accomplish that, I’d go get my putting track out with side guides or just line up a couple clubs as a track to make sure I hit the ball square and follow through square… and I’d do it on a spot on the green where it’s flat and straight so that I could see the results. I would hit 6 or 7 balls in a row and I wouldn’t even be hitting at a hole, I would be aiming at a smaller target than that. I would train my stroke this way. Doesn’t that make sense? Maybe there’s an even better way but certainly hitting 2 balls to various holes is NOT the best way to train your stroke.

But hitting your putt where you are aiming it is only a part of actually making a putt. In fact, I would suggest that speed and break are even more important.
So, I’m going to guess that the true answer as to why golfers hit 2 or 3 balls from the same spot (like I used to do), is because they’re lazy.   They don’t want to go through the motions of reading a green and going through a routine like they do on a real putt. That would be REAL practice. I’ve asked and found that they actually think they are being more efficient and getting to hit more balls in the same amount of time which they consider “reps” or “repetitions.”

There’s this religious-like faith in repetitions in the golf world. But, isn’t it totally logical that if you are repeating an action that isn’t useful that you are ingraining poor results into your mind and muscles?

So what’s the truth about lazy practice putting?  You’re getting reps and practicing how NOT to read a green and rely on the feedback you got from your first putt (which never happens on the real course).  On top of that, those golfers are totally relaxed and at ease on the practice green with no pressure to make a putt.  Final result?  They are practicing UNFOCUSED golf and when they need to make a putt under pressure, it becomes extremely difficult.

You will not fix playing UNFOCUSED golf by buying more clubs.

You can’t become FOCUSED by hitting more unfocused putts on the practice green

A new putter or putting stroke will do nothing to reduce your score when your normal game is to play unfocused golf.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with playing UNFOCUSED golf. That’s playing for the pure enjoyment of the game.  Go out there and have a beer, I play this way some of the time for the sheer fun of it.

But when I want to go low….FOCUS and INTENTION

So what’s my point here?  Whatever you do out there on the practice green or the range or even at home when you want to work on your game, BE INTENTIONAL.  What do I mean by this?

I mean, before you hit a ball, have an idea of specifically want you are working on and put your intention on that. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is the best way to achieve my intention here.  That’s how you will develop FOCUS for out on the course when it counts. That’s how you will make your warmups (practice) actually pay off for you out on the course.

I’d love to see your INTENTIONAL warmup tips for on the practice green below and why you think it works.

Greens and fairways,

Craig

David - August 7, 2012

The first thing I do on the putting green is to place a long tee in the ground with about an inch sticking up. I then putt a ball to it ten times from about one foot. This focuses on a small target and builds my confidence in starting the ball off on the right line.

    Craig - August 7, 2012

    Small targets, exactly! Keep it up.
    Greens and fairways,

    Craig

Col Vijayaraghavan - August 7, 2012

Craig’s suggestions are always to the point good and practi

    Craig - August 7, 2012

    Thanks Col!

    Greens and fairways,

    Craig

John - August 7, 2012

I drop 3 balls on side of practice green and chip to 3 different holes. Complete first putt (par for each series of shots is 2) When I have 2 balls at same hole I putt to third hole from opposite sides of second practice hole. again par is 2 for each series. More the the real game and no two putts the same.

    Craig - August 7, 2012

    You are on the right track John, thanks for the comment!
    Greens and fairways,

    Craig

Rick - August 7, 2012

I drop one ball on the putting green and putt around the circuit of holes trying to two putt or less each hole. If green is busy I drop two balls and try to putt to the edge of green getting down the speed of the green.

    Craig - August 7, 2012

    Great idea Rick. Much closer to real putting on the course.
    G & F,
    Craig

Bruce Turner - August 7, 2012

All said, it is good to hear some one to call what I do to practice putting before I play, wrong. What you left out is the ability to relax and let the putt happen. See the distance the mind will tell the shoulders and hands how much and how fast to move. In the “Oh I got to make this one to win a dollar” will kill the putt. Learn to breathe , learn to relax. One answer, try smiling before you start your setup.

    Craig - August 7, 2012

    Excellent suggestions Bruce, thanks!
    Craig

Scott Myers - August 8, 2012

You’re right on the money with this Craig!
The only time I’ll putt more that 2 balls from the same spot is to simply get a feel for the speed of the green that day. Then I’ll use that knowledge to throw down a half dozen balls on the green at random so they’re nice and spread out so not to have two identical putts from the same place and pick a smaller target than the cup to putt to (usually the balls them selves). This keeps you more focused on making the putt count as well as giving yourself more confidence when you start your round by putting to an object smaller than the cup itself.

Keep up the good work Buddy 🙂

    Craig - August 9, 2012

    Excellent tips Scott! Thanks,

    Greens and fairways,
    Craig

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