I read with empathy and fascination golfers descriptions and struggles with the yips. Everyone knows what it is but nobody seems to know the definitive way to get rid of the problem.
In trying to solve a problem, especially when you are working with the human body, wouldn’t it be most efficient to find the cause first? Unfortunately, much of Western Medicine and golf instruction ignores this and treats the symptom.
In my opinion, this is what folks trying to fix the yips do as well. Most instructors will give you some kind of workaround for your swing or putting stroke. This is like giving aspirin to a person with a brain tumor.
Yes, you need band-aids and aspirin as part of any first aid kit but they aren’t going to cure cancer now are they?
I have heard many stories of golfers getting one of these work-arounds for, say, putting, and then the yips moves over to becoming chipping or full swing yips!
And we all know about the famous failed workarounds of Hank Haney trying to help Charles Barkley with the full swing yips on his TV show.
Even the famous Mayo clinic did a study on it and concluded that it’s caused by “focal dystonia” from overuse of certain muscles. Yeah, right. This makes no sense…
If that is so, how is it that golfers get the putting yips ONLY when they are facing crucial putts in competitive situations and NOT on the practice green? How is it that an older golfer gets the putting yips but not the full swing or chipping yips when they have had FAR more full swings in their lifetime which are far more physical than the act of putting? How is putting the “overuse” and not the swing?
Secondly, go look up “focal dystonia” and most information says there is no cause. This is what science likes to say when they don’t have answers because of sheer arrogance, in my opinion.
I believe there is a cause for every effect! Just because we can’t see or know the cause doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Sometimes, an educated guess that is BELIEVABLE is all you need to be able resolve the problem. That’s what I present to you here because ultimately, the mind and body are one and the same and, even if my theory about the cause is totally false, BELIEF in it is what contributes greatly to solving this problem anyway!
If you suffer with the putting yips, all you care about is getting out of it, right? Who cares if the “science” supports how you got out of it, just get out of it!
Where am I going with all of this?
Many sports psychologists have rightly come to the conclusion that the yips come from an accumulation of perceived mental, emotional, and mechanical errors in golf. I would add to that all the “errors” in life as well.
In short, your unconscious mind has accumulated or repressed unresolved “negative emotions” and the reasons for them in your memory. Many get attached to the act of putting or swinging to such an extent that it has now created a response that is similar to many irrational fears and phobias.
It’s simply to protect you.
Remember, the number one job of the unconscious mind (ucm) is to keep you alive. It doesn’t care about your golf game or your putting. Everyone is different but in those folks who get the yips, their ucm is running a program to stop them from putting because:
Your unconscious mind has the dual, opposing functions of repression and bringing up for resolution. It keeps unresolved traumas repressed so that you can go about your life doing what you need to do and then when your life settles down, it brings them up for final resolution.
Golf putting is dangerous? How is that possible?
Because the negative emotions surrounding putting are causing internal stress to you. Stress is a killer. Your ucm knows that and is trying to get you to stop playing golf because it’s made you a wreck of built up emotion that leads to physical illness.
This stuff goes deep and nothing about your surface thinking or actions is likely to solve it. You can’t practice your way out of the yips.
The most important point for you to go with here is THE BELIEF that you can fix this problem. After all, you created it and so you can also un-create it. Nobody did it to you. It’s not a disease. There’s no virus. It’s not overuse as I said above. It didn’t happen in a vacuum.
I personally have seen mental/emotional patterns from numerous golfers that have given me this theory that we use to clear all forms of the yips – putting, chipping, and full swing. My theory here has come from studying the work of Dr. John Sarno, in particular, his book: “The Divided Mind. The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. ”
This is caused by primarily mental/emotional issues and have everything you need inside for physical, emotional and mental health to undo it.
Powerful release intervention work through this inner mind connection is THE quickest and most effective way to get back to enjoying your game and your time on the greens. This requires your full attention, focus and INTENTION if you really want the results fast. The yips didn’t happen to you overnight and so they won’t go away overnight either but you absolutely can get there in a few weeks or maybe a bit longer. You may find some additional personal benefits outside of golf from working your way through this.
Do not attempt to putt during the first two weeks of this process unless the yipping is very slight or you don’t do it that much in the first place. Don’t expect a miracle during these first 2 weeks but it is possible.
I have created a 3-part guided visualization process that is obviously not personalized that has done wonders for many golfers. The next step after that would be to work with someone One on One who understands release processes and the connection to the yips so that you can go deeper through your specific and unique issues.
Greens and Fairways,
Tip #42 from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is another simple thing that you can do in the comfort of your own home, to dramatically improve your putting stroke!
Greens and Fairways,
p.s. Want all 52 Ways To Lower Your Score Without Practice? Sign up for these emails. https://break80golf.com/
Amateur golfers get so wrapped up in tweaking their putting mechanics so that they hit the ball along their target line, and rightfully so.
The problem, however, is that they forget that a big reason for missed putts is not just the aim and follow through. Having a ball that rolls true, or, end over end without any sidespin is just as important.
This is so easy to permanently fix and you can and should do this at home on your living room carpet.
Get one of those $3 plastic templates that snaps over the ball and helps you to put a perfect line around the ball.
There are battery-operated devices that actually will find the natural balance point of every individual ball for this line.
Putt with ONLY the INTENTION of getting the ball to roll perfectly without wobble.
DO NOT putt to a target. The line you drew on the ball will give you the exact feedback you need to monitor your efforts as you watch it roll across the floor.
As I mentioned in the forward of this book, the point here is to isolate out and train one thing at a time and then move on to the next tip.
When you are able to make the ball roll true, stop and go over what you did right for a minute. When you putt and the line wobbles, forget that you ever hit that putt and start fresh.
Continue to reinforce to your mind what you do correctly and that you want more of those putts.
That night as you go to sleep, you will be replaying those visions of golf balls rolling pure from a precision stroke.
If you did just this trick for a few times a week with INTENTION as described here, you will cut your 4-10 foot misses by a third.
Tip #39 from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is about breaking out of the box that says that golf is only for a full-sized course in a pristine country club setting where we have to dress up and observe all the traditions.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for that and I enjoy that just as much. However, let’s face it…we all play golf, ultimately, because it’s fun and enjoyable. So, why don’t we give ourselves the opportunity to expand those possibilities with this awesome game? I say we can.
AND, we can also have fun while working on improving our game…to boot!
After re-reading what I wrote in the book below, I found this guy who created a website to help you have fun and PLAY GOLF EVERYWHERE! I hope you do it.
Greens and Fairways,
Ok, let’s face it…the problem with practicing is that it’s not fun. If it were as fun as the game, then we would MAKE time to do it all the time. That’s the secret here!
One day in my teens, I’m home from school with an illness. I hear dogs barking in the neighborhood and look outside. I see 2 guys chipping from lawn to lawn of the houses on our street. I go out to talk to them and they are having a blast playing what they call “street golf.” They are bouncing the ball off the street and everything else and they weren’t drinking!
Since then, I’ve found a whole society called Guerilla Golfers.
Not long after that, I go to a golfing buddy’s house to watch a sporting event and show up an hour early.
We started with our sand wedge and then injected difficulty into the game with having to chip with our hybrids and then onto other clubs where the starting lie dictated it.
The next day, I killed it on the course!
The thing about this is that we always put something at stake and THAT made it fun.
I used to play a putting game with my young son that had golf balls colored and numbered like billiards balls and you putted then into the holes just like a pool table.
Family time and great putting time all at once!
Are you getting the picture?
Get creative and find ways to make working on your game fun and then it’s not practice!
Tip #50 from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is about connecting your conscious mind to your unconscious mind just before you swing or stroke your putt to execute a really good pre shot routine that lines up your shot. As I’ve said a million times, you golf your best unconsciously, that is, without thinking. Therefore, it only makes sense to FIRST, communicate to your unconscious mind EXACTLY what it is you want to happen! You want your golf ball to go to a specific target, right? The hole, a landing spot for a chip, a spot on the fairway, etc. Do this for EVERY shot with tip #50 below from the book.
Greens and Fairways,
p.s. Want all 52 Ways To Lower Your Score Without Practice? Sign up for these emails. https://break80golf.com/
As usual, you can do this at home, during warmups, in your backyard for putting and chipping too. Set up to your shot or putt like normal and get all ready to hit/stroke it. Do your pre-shot routine just like you always do.
Right before the moment of truth where you start your backswing, look up at the target and stay looking at it while swinging or putting. You won’t believe how well you still hit the ball without looking at it and you will be shocked at how many putts you make. Believe me, if blind golfers can break 80 without ever seeing the ball, so can you.
What are the benefits? You will learn to connect target and ball together in your mind as you swing or putt. You will be sending an even more powerful message to your unconscious mind what you want the ball to do.
You will really learn how to TRUST your swing. For putting, you will discover awareness of how to keep your body very still and feel the clubhead travelling square down the target line.
Golf Digest published a study in 2005 that found that many golfers actually make more putts while looking at the hole while putting!
Today, I want to discuss Confidence and whatever that means to you. Recently, I interviewed a 20-year sports psychologist who had taken teams to the NCAA finals in his sport and had coached professionals for years. I asked him about Confidence and how you get it.
I’m not kidding when I tell you he said: “I don’t know any other way to get confidence other than to have success. You get confidence from past successes. Maybe a hypnotist can do some things but that’s been my experience. (he did not know that I do hypnosis…hah!).”
Anyway, I began to think about that on my last round when my golfing partner mentioned that he always putts his best when he has confidence stepping up to the ball. I agreed with him wholeheartedly that it seems that if you have the feeling like a ball is going in the hole, then that is the biggest factor in whether or not it goes in the hole or not, right?
Well, to take this further, I thought, well, I’ve made lots of putts when I DIDN’T have any confidence or I was just feeling nothing or neutral.
My brain always starts checking on my theories by taking them to the nth degree. In other words, a theory must hold up under extreme situations, it has to be taken to it’s logical end.
So, I tested this theory that you get confidence from having success… and it failed miserably. I thought about all the times I’ve had confidence with ever having any success AND, more importantly, I came to the conclusion that you DON’T EVEN NEED CONFIDENCE in order to have success!!!
Yes, confidence is a good thing. It certainly helps things…but it’s the cherry on cake! it’s not the cake!
Follow me here. We were all babies at one time, right? And most of us learned to walk from scratch, right? In other words, we learned to walk (got success) without ever having had any success at walking! Furthermore…we weren’t TAUGHT to walk. We just learned it by trial and error and modeling grownup humans already walking.
Therefore, we created success without ANY previous success! We had no confidence, just a DESIRE to walk and a willingness to get back up after we fall down. (maybe that’s all confidence really is)
I keep hearing from golfers saying that they lack confidence standing up there on the tee box about to hit an important drive. Or that their last miss on the green was because of doubt. Or, that they lacked confidence about to speak or present to their team or boss at their job.
Sooooo, what’s the point of this article? The punchline?
We don’t need confidence to do anything! The sooner you let go of that, the faster you will get confidence!
Really what happens when you do that, is you let go of some FEAR about whether or not you have confidence or not and can make this shot or not. When you let go of the FEAR, that’s when you play to your natural potential.
The formula for success is: Performance = Potential – Interference.
FEAR is the biggest interference in your golf game (and other areas of your life).
I’m going to get into this formula a lot in coming weeks. Stand by….
Greens and fairways,
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?
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,
It’s the 18th hole and my junior golfer, 15 year old son, walks up to the green and eyes his ball lying about 25 feet from the hole. It’s a double breaker with a bit of an uphill putt that he needs to win a bet from me. I follow him around the green as he squats behind the ball to take a look at the slope. I hover around him and look him in the eye and finally decide to give him a little lesson in managing his mental game.
I ask him: “So AJ, right when you take the putter back, do you breathe in, out or hold your breath?”
I have a sly smile on my face as he sends mental daggers my way through his eyes. He is determined to show up the old man for the first time in our many years of playing together. I just keep smiling and smirking while noticing his body language reeks of tension.
Flash backwards in time for a moment. I’ve been playing and teaching my junior golfer since he was 3 years old. Before that, I actually pushed him around a course while in a jogger’s baby carriage in his first year while I played the game. Heck, it was the only way I was going to get to play some weekends when his mother left him with me. I’ll never forget the gyrations I went through to try to keep him either asleep or entertained enough to stay quiet on a golf course! From a distance, other golfers must have thought I was nuts doing African dances around my funny-looking golf cart!
Come to think of it, you know, those times were probably very instrumental in my learning how to deal with distractions and still play the game at a high level. Did you know that Tiger Woods Dad would purposely yell and throw clubs in front of Tiger while he was swinging in order to teach him that famous Focusing ability he is famous for?
But I digress from the main story. From the age of 3 til about the age of 12, AJ would listen and hang on every word that I would say about golf.
I showed him a very simple swing that served him very well and we enjoyed many years of playing together, driving golf carts in crazy ways, and celebrating another grand day at the course with a tall soda (and beer) at the 19th hole.
And then, something happened…AJ hit that age where he all of a sudden “knows everything” if you know what I mean. His game started to get better and I could see this wall come up any time I would talk about the mental game of golf. In his eyes, it was just a matter of him playing more and practicing more and he’d seen the beginnings of improvement from that formula. Never mind that I write to 10,000 golfers every week, never mind that I’ve worked with hundreds of kids and elite athletes from all over the world. Never mind the fact that I took my own golf handicap down to a 5, shot a 1-under and a hole in one, all without practicing….No, never mind all that…I’m just Dad and I don’t know anything, right?
Flash forward to that 18th hole where he challenged me to a bet where if he won, I would have to buy him some new Nike shoes and if I won, he would have to wash my car 10 times. He wants those shoes really bad. I don’t let up as he walks all around his putt and takes an unusually long time to line it up. I know that he is a bowl of jello inside and his legs look like they will give out from under him at any moment.
He takes the putter back very hesitantly and leaves himself a 4-footer. I mentally pounce all over him as you can feel the pressure in the air between us. I tell him that he will not be able to handle the pressure and that I am looking forward to a clean car for the foreseeable future.
Hi misses the putt and I say nothing, not a word. We walk to the car in silence as I let him process the whole thing his way. I turn the radio on in the car to break the tension as we drive home.
A whole month later, he comes to me and tells me he is ready to learn about the mental game and we get going in earnest.
I just learned this week, as I write this, that AJ has earned a college scholarship to play golf in college. He is a fine, upstanding, moral young man who impressed a college coach not just with his golf skills but with his personality and character.
Sometimes, golfers need to get their lessons in a certain way that only works for them. After working with hundreds of golfers in person and more online, I’ve noticed a few patterns about what makes you a play your best game. It’s all about being able to play under pressure. More to come on that…
Greens and fairways,
The No-practice expert
The time has come to send our golf ball on our chosen path towards the hole. As you reach this point, you have done a great job of
completing your key tasks. You’ve gathered all the information you need. You have a very clear picture in mind of how you are going to make this putt. You have a good feel for the speed and the corresponding line. You can clearly see what part of the cup is going to accept the ball. You know that you’ve done your best aligning the ball, and your putter.
You have officially earned the right to make this putt!
My next point is a challenging one. I’m going to tell you what to think and feel as you stand over your putt. How can I do that? I really can’t, but I am going to try to guide you towards the proper mindset and emotional state.
As I stated above, you have earned the right to make this putt. You deserve it. You have followed all of the steps, and done your homework. All of this preparation is designed to put you in the ideal mental and emotional state.
There are just 2 more things that I will ask you to do:
1). Have 100% trust in the alignment of the ball and putter
2). Make absolutely sure that your final thought is about creating the speed that you have chosen for this particular putt
Let’s look at these two final concepts in a little more detail. Having complete trust in the alignment of the ball and putter is one of the key components of the Banana Putting System. One of the main reasons that golfers miss putts is a lack of trust in their alignment. By carefully going through all of the steps in this book, you have gathered all of the information you need. You have a picture in mind of your ideal putt. You now need to place 100% trust in the work you have done.
Putts are pulled and pushed and hit with too much and too little speed because the golfer doesn’t believe that he or she is properly aligned. My good friend Dr. Craig Farnsworth once told me:
You are much better off to be completely committed to the wrong line,
than to be uncommitted to the right line.
I believe that golfers need to have achievable objectives when they play. An achievable objective is something that you can control and something you can measure or track. A key objective in putting is total and complete commitment to the line and speed you have chosen.
Total and complete commitment
Total and complete commitment
Total and complete commitment
Sorry for the repetition, but this is really important if you are going to make your golf ball go in the hole. Please remember, you’ve worked very hard to arrive at this point completely prepared. All of the work, all of the steps are carefully scripted so that you can stand over your ball with this level of commitment.
Standing in the way of this state of total and complete commitment are your thoughts and feelings as you stand over the ball. Nearly all of our work has been done from the “level eye” position that we talked about earlier. Things make sense and “look right” when we look and see with our head in an upright and level position.
Your address of the ball is getting ready to change all that. As you position yourself over the ball, you are going to tilt your body and head towards the ball. As you turn your head to look down the start line, you rotate your face and eyes toward the target. Your eyes are no longer level.
Suddenly the world looks different!
What happened to that nice vision you had of a perfect putt?
Have you completely lost your feel for the putt?
Where’s your line?
This doesn’t look right?!
Do you need to make an adjustment to fit your new perspective?
This is what goes through the mind of nearly every golfer. This is what we’re going to remove from your game. This is why you miss more than you make.
Are you turning the page or your computer to see this photo more clearly? I would do the same thing. Everything is suddenly turned 90 degrees from my “level eyes” position and its very confusing. Can you imagine driving your car with your head turned 90 degrees to the side. No way! You wouldn’t make it out of the driveway before you crashed into something.
This is why you get very confused and unsure standing over the ball. You have suddenly put yourself in a position where it’s very hard to believe that you are properly aligned.
That’s why you did all the steps, and very carefully chose your start line. That’s why you very carefully lined up your golf ball. That’s why you have aligned your putter exactly with your golf ball alignment. I have asked you to do all of these things for an important reason.
I’m going to ask you to completely ignore all of these crazy thoughts and feelings you have as you stand over the ball. That’s right…completely ignore them.
Let me ask you a quick question. Do you have anyone in your personal or business life that you ask for advice? Most people have a trusted friend or advisor that they will ask for advice or input.
What would you do if this person consistently gave you the wrong answer? You would probably stop listening after a while, wouldn’t you? I think so.
In this case, the person giving you bad advice is YOU.
Your thoughts and feelings are the source of this uncertainty as you stand over the ball. These thoughts and feelings often conflict with the earlier work that you have done, and because of that, leave you confused. You suddenly change your view of the putt, and adjust your stance, your putter alignment, or you manipulate the putter during the stroke.
You do all of this because this final perspective standing over the ball is different.
This is an excerpt from the book: “Banana Putting” by PGA instructor Paul Hobart.
Paul States at the beginning of Banana Putting:
I have a few bold statements to make before we get started.
Yes, the yips can become a thing of the past. I’ll explain them, why you get them, and how to be so ready to hit your putt that the word never even comes up.
Practice will enhance the concepts in this book, and I will suggest some drills and techniques if you want to take your putting to another level.
To get more information on Banana Putting and Paul Hobart, click here
Getting the correct alignment for the putt is crucial to starting the ball on-line. Not only does this mean having the correct alignment of the putter, but also the correct alignment of the body.
When the body is correctly aligned to your target, the putting stroke will remain square to the target through the entire motion. This will eliminate any need for the body to try and compensate for poor alignment during the stroke.
Alignment is the act of getting not only the putter aimed correctly at your target, but also having the appropriate areas of your body aligned correctly with your target line.
While your putter will point directly down your target line, the line formed by your shoulders, knees, and even feet will not be pointing at your target – they will be parallel to it.
Imagine standing over a set of railroad tracks. The track farthest away from you is the line down which you will aim your putter. The track closes to you is the one with which you align your body.
Aligning your body correctly to your target line is actually quite easy and can be accomplished in only three steps.
• Choose the line on which you want your ball to start
• Walk up to the ball, place your putter behind it, and with your eyes directly over the ball, align your putter to the target using the alignment line on your putter to point it straight down the target-line you have just chosen
• Align the toes of each of your feet on the line you have just aligned your putter to. (If you drew a line from the tip of each shoe, it would run parallel to your target-line line. )
• Square your shoulders to your target-line. This is the most important part of aligning your body.
If you decide to only follow one of these steps, make sure this is the one. The path of your putting-stroke is determined by the alignment of your shoulders. Square shoulders=square putting stroke. Open shoulders=out-to-in putting stroke. Closed shoulders=in-to-out stroke. Making sure your shoulders are square to your target line before you take your putter back will guarantee a square putting stroke every time.
• If you need help figuring out if your shoulders are indeed square to your target-line, hold a golf shaft across each shoulder with both hands and turn your shoulders so that the shaft is now parallel to your target line.
This is an excerpt from the powerful ebook: “Breakthrough Putting Secrets Revealed”
Too many golfers just go up to their putt completely mindless, having never worked on any of the foundations that set you up for a consistent putting stroke that sends the ball on the chosen line of travel.
There are a number of things you must do if you want to be a putter who doesn’t fold under the pressure of a must-make putt. The problem with far too many every-day golfers is that they have made some great putts in the past and so they carry around with them the idea that they are good while using a poor mechanical motion.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day!
Get Breakthrough Putting Secrets Revealed to find out what you must do to really become a great putter.
teaches you what you NEED TO KNOW and not what you ought to know and nothing more. Focus on this foundational system and you will discover how to become a much better putter.
My friend Scott Myers has done a fantastic job of breaking it down to the core principles. Forget the rest and focus on the 80/20 of putting Breakthrough Putting Secrets Revealed.
Greens and fairways
P.S. Tell me what you think about this topic below!
You can’t teach a player how to putt, but you can put across some of the
basic ideas to help him get the ball rolling toward the hole.
Where do most of the tournament players spend the most time? On the putting green, of course. You can’t score without sinking the ball in the hole.
When one of the boys wants to give one of his fellow pros the needle, all he has to say is, “You’re the greatest putter in the world.” More nasty things have been said about putting than about Russia. From the high- handicapper to the scratch player to the touring pro, wails are heard about their putting.
I’m no exception. It’s normal to complain after you hit two perfect shots that travel 450 yards straight to within six feet of the cup and then miss the birdie putt. After all, the surface of the green is specially prepared to make the ball roll true. There’s no rough, no sand, and nothing to worry about except the cup. It sounds easy but, of course, isn’t. Other- wise, the men who build golf courses wouldn’t allow two shots to get to the green and then two more to get in the hole for a par. Of course, to score you have to one-putt, not only when you hit the greens but when you miss them, too.
When I won the Masters in 1960, I was putting good—no doubt about that. But you still have to play a lot of other good shots to win a golf tournament, especially such a prize as the Masters.
On the first hole of the last round, I hooked my tee shot away to the left of the fairway over some trees almost to another fairway. But I hit a two-iron onto the putting surface 20 feet from the pin and holed the putt for a birdie. What had looked like a sure bogey from the first tee became a birdie.
The second hole is a par five that can be reached in two. I landed in
a sand trap on my second shot, but with an explosion shot got within two
feet of the pin. I figured that I was off to a flying start with my second birdie. I missed the two-footer.
Don’t ask me what causes inconsistency in putting, because I can’t tell you, except that I feel that erratic putting comes from not doing the same thing all the time.
Pick the style which suits you best and stick to it. There are a couple of things, though, that have to be done no matter which way you putt. The blade must be square behind the ball at impact. In other words, the center of the ball and the blade of the putter are at right angles. And your head must not move when you putt. Any movement of the head not only will take your stroke off the intended line of flight, but also will prevent you from stroking the ball the same way all the time. You must see the blade of the putter contact the ball or you haven’t done the job right.
At one time or another I have putted every possible way, I think, except standing on my head. Some of them worked, some of the time. Some never worked. When I first went on the tour, I traveled by car. They joked about the trunk of my car, but it was no gag. When I opened it I had to be alert because there were 25 putters jammed in the back and they might come tumbling out.
Through trial and error, I came upon one way to putt that seems to
remain the same. I use the reverse overlapping grip, which sounds technical
but actually is the Vardon grip in reverse.
I have all five fingers of the
right hand on the club. I place the bottom three fingers of the left hand
on the club, insert the index finger between the groove formed by the last
two fingers of the right hand, and put my left thumb on the shaft so that
the fingernail is touching it. This immobilizes the left hand and makes
it just a guide in the stroke.
Although both hands move together, the right
hand does the putting. Many things can go wrong with a putt. You can read the greens wrong,
find a roll that isn’t there, or miss one that is. You can play a putt to break
left and it goes straight, or vice versa. And, most of all, on putts of 15 feet
or more, there is the problem of how hard to hit the ball.
I like to putt hard enough so that the ball gets past the hole. That way
it has a double chance of going in, once on the first putt and again on the
putt coming back. There is no worse feeling than leaving a putt short, dead
on line for the hole. I think I’d rather get hit by Rocky Marciano.