The Natural Approach To Better Putting
Back in the 1980's, I started studying everything I could find on putting in an effort to isolate the common traits of the best putters in history.
I figured the more I knew about putting, the better putters I could design.
While there are many differences in the mechanics of Bobby Jones, Bobby Locke, Billy Casper, Nicklaus, Stockton, Watson, Crenshaw and others, surely they had to have some common traits as well, I figured.
Coincidentally, during this research, I had an accident where I stuck a Buck knife into the palm of my hand, partially severing the nerves to my thumb.
But back to my research, can you believe I could only find one trait common to all the best putters in history? Each and every one of them had their master hand completely on the putter, and it was rotated slightly under so that the thumb was just canted on the top of the grip! That's right, none of these great putters took even one finger of their master hand off the putter grip, and their thumb was NOT flat on top of it.
It's amazing how much you can learn from a neurosurgeon.
Now here's where the Buck knife accident comes in.
My neurosurgeon explained that you have a main nerve running up the inside of each finger, and it's very close to the skin at the "swirl" of your fingerprint. All except the thumb, that is.
The thumb has two nerves that terminate just under the skin on either side of the fingerprint swirl, and the one toward the index finger is the most sensitive. Touch your thumb and forefinger. See how they connect to put these two nerve endings in contact?
So, you're probably wondering by now - "Great, Terry but how does this affect my putting?"
Well, the nerve path between your eyes and these fingers of your master hand is the most familiar nerve path in your body, because it's the one that works the most. Every time you do anything with your "eye/hand coordination" - writing, eating, tossing a paper wad at the trash can, opening a door, etc. - you are exercising and training that nerve path to be more responsive. So why wouldn't you want to rely on that superhighway nerve path to control your putting?
Here's a drill for you to try, even at home on your carpet this evening.
First, forget everything you think you know about putting. Just put a few balls down and pick out a target.
Then, take your putter just in your master hand and make a few slow, deliberate strokes toward that target. The key is to keep your eyes totally engaged on your target.
Make sure your hand is rotated so that your thumb is on the top of the grip like I described (pic on left), and your two main fingertips are on the grip - L-I-G-H-T-L-Y.
Don't think about stance, posture ... nothing but the target. Let your eyes and your hand act together. Stay relaxed and stroke each ball toward your target.
Now, let me interject here that you want to feel like you are taking your master hand and the grip toward the target, and the putter head is just following along. Don't try to "hit" the ball with the putter head!
You'll probably find you have more control of the putter if you hold it down toward the bottom of the grip.
And you can even gently hold the top of the putter with the first two fingers and thumb of the left hand for stability (pic on left)...but DON'T think about mechanics.
All you want to do is intently focus on the target with your eyes, and let your eye/hand coordination take over.
I think you'll find that not only do you have a great deal of success in hitting the target with most of the putts, but that you create a slow, rhythmic stroke pattern. And very good feel for distance, which leads to fewer putts.
Practice this technique at home in the evenings for a while, and then try it on the putting green. The keys are to hold the putter lightly and let your eyes and hand work together.
I'm not discounting the importance of sound mechanics - set up, posture, etc. - I'm just telling you that those things cannot get in the way of using your natural talents to help you become a better putter. Practice this drill regularly to keep you in touch with those skills that all of us possess.
In fall of 2007, EIDOLON Golf will be publishing my full length book, " The Natural Approach to Better Putting ", wherein I'll be sharing with you the easiest way to make yourself a better putter than you've ever been before - with a minimum of practice!
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
[ comments ]
Great Tip! I like the thought of taking the master hand toward the target. It definitely smooths out my putting stroke. I look forward to practicing this some more and seeing the results on the putting green!
I'm just lazy towards my putting so I just bought a couple of belly putters and now its all good
Getting in quite late on this topic. So if I'm a righty but play golf right handed (think Phil) would it be wise to try to put right hand low and take my "master hand" to the target?
[ post comment ]