The winter months in the northern hemisphere are painful at best for many golfers. Courses surrender to the onslaught of the weather and even the most masochistic golfer has to accept defeat when the snow comes. Even if you have the means to pop over to Florida, your employer might not appreciate it! So what can you do to improve that putting stroke this winter?
Some of you may have a putting mat at home already but if not this lovely model from Masters Golf is £25 and does a good job. It can be rolled up easily and kept out of the way when not in use (a tidy home is a happy one, no?!). The first thing to do is draw (using a ruler and sharpie) a nice line perpendicular to the hole to check your face aim. Then draw a second line towards the hole. This helps you hit the sweetspot of the putter and start from the same place every time.
It also helps to draw a line using the alignment aid on the ball. We use this all season during tournaments. It really frees up your focus on distance control. (Here’s a clip of Tiger with alignment mark on ball: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6IdFgWe9_Q#t=139) At this point it is probably worth checking your floor is flat with a spirit level! You do not want to spend all winter grooving a push!
So you now have a basic putting station, it will allow you to work on a confident putting stroke and your alignment. At this point you maybe realise how easy it is to slip into bad aiming habits. In putting the margin of error is small. If you are over one degree out at impact for a ten foot putt it will miss its target by 2.1 inches! Some great drills can be indoors with a good mat like this. I also like to practice the ‘gate’ drill. On grass you will try and make putts while swinging the putter between a pair of tightly placed tees. Indoors you can substitute with remote controls or a DVD case (Titanic or Men In Black – nothing too valuable!)
MCILROY PUTTING MIRROR EAST LAKE FEDEX CUP
The above video shows Mcilroy holing putt after putt in his pre-round warm up. Using the Eyeline mirror, he describes this addition to his routine as one of the reasons for finding a high degree of consistency with his putting all year. He is checking exactly where his eyes are pointing.
Consistent putting is like firing a rifle consistently – you won’t do well without looking down the barrel! If your eyes are not in a neutral position over the ball your perception of the target becomes a little skewed. This is one of the problems Magnus discovered during his SAM PUTT LAB analysis.
It is really important to have this ‘feedback loop’ when practicing. You may have the best of intentions but if you have nothing to demonstrate or force a difference then you will probably migrate towards what has become most comfortable. And as we all know, a mirror doesn’t lie!
If you enjoyed, or at least were curious, whilst reading Magnus’s SAM LAB analysis then this final suggestion for the ultimate home putting lab will appeal to you. PING have produced a gem of an APP (Apple store only) for very detailed stroke analysis. The APP is free to download and provides great information on the PING tour pro’s strokes. To measure your own stroke you will need the PING cradle which helps attach your iphone to the putter shaft, just below the grip as pictured.
The APP can be relied on for its consistency, the iPhone’s sensor is obviously not of inferior quality! The APP provides an overall score by which to measure yourself which is fair as players have different tendencies. It measures the amount of arc and face rotation in your stroke which helps provide an indication of what style of putter suits you best. Arc and face rotation in the stroke are discussed here. Tempo is measured too which highlights and sudden are unbalanced styles of stroke. Most importantly your aim at impact is provided. Its amazing data to receive if you have never done something like this before. You could hole five out of five putts for example, yet the app will discriminate between each putt’s differences. It is so so difficult to achieve an exactly square face again and again when the tolerance is 0.1 of a degree!
Using all the suggested items together here is not essential but you can appreciate how each adds value to your practice. These items are not restricted to winter. In fact we would encourage use of the the mirror and the app on a real practice green when you can. With these tools you have removed the guess from your analysis and can practice with confidence towards improvement.
If the tools and tips provided here have been useful we would love to know. If you struggle to achieve the results you are after and would consider further analysis you could book an online video review of your stroke or book a SAM LAB analysis with Mike Kanski.
BUILDING YOUR HOME PUTTING STATION SUMMARY