Hole those must make putts
If you’re a golfer, there’ll be many aspects of your game that you’ll want to improve, but perhaps the holy grail is that of how to make the perfect putt particularly when the pressure is on, and you’re actually on the top of your game.
All the best pros like Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell have all felt the pressure of the perfect putt when they’re on the green.
A game of golf can be won and lost on one below average par putt.
The putt is also one of the most powerful ways to really improve your game in the long term.
So if you’re embarrassed by the score sheet when you’re out playing with friends or business associates, read on for practical ways to putt like a pro and make a difference to your putting game.
Perhaps the most important thing to control above all else, are your nerves. Being able to feel comfortable on the golf course is sometimes a difficult thing to master, particularly if your expectations are high.
Maybe wearing the brand new Nike golf clothing collection will help, but maybe it wouldn't!
Moreover, if you’re surrounded by a group of golfers you consider to be more skilled than you, and you’re all competitive by nature, this can bring additional pressure to bear.
You don’t want to let yourself down by making a mistake, and that very attitude can be the tipping point to you enjoying the game and relaxing and putting yourself under so much pressure you lose it all in key moments.
People head to the golf course to lose themselves in the outdoors the scenery and to master a golf ball around the course, perhaps the most important thing to remember is to enjoy the game and don’t let your nerves get the better of you.
More often than not, it is only you putting pressure on yourself.
Practice makes perfect
Our muscles have memory and the old adage practice makes perfect is borne out of truth.
The more we routinely practice a task or a physical activity, the better at it and the more control we have simply because we build up muscles relating to that activity and learn how to have more sensitive control.
If you look at any task, whether it’s typing, or driving or even texting from your mobile phone, most of us would say that there are many things we can do with our eyes shut.
This is because repetition creates muscle memory and our muscles can almost do the task involuntarily without conscious prompting from our brain.
Second nature is another great way to think about it; I’m sure we’ve often heard it said of someone who looked naturally good at some physical task, that it was “second nature to them”.
However, what people don’t see is the hours that that “expert” invested in becoming good at that task often through sheer love, enjoyment or necessity.
Practice in golf also helps to develop your hand-eye co-ordination and strengthen neurological pathways, so your muscles almost work independently from your brain, which helps greatly when you’re under pressure.
In any round of golf 40-45% of your shots will be with a putter, but yet, the majority of players work on their full swing, especially with the driver.
Rory McIlroy is one of the most consistent putters on the game. One of the reasons for this is the fact that he keeps his lower body rock solid stable when he is putting.
One way to do this is to comfortably stand both feet roughly shoulder apart, so you have the greatest stability while standing still.
If you watch Rory putting, his lower body does not move at all until well after the putting stroke.
The other mark of a good putter is that they instinctively stay in their putting stance until the ball goes all the way into the hole.
So if you’re having trouble with the putting stroke, be aware of your posture and keep that posture stance relaxed until well into the stroke until the ball is in the hole or has gone past the hole.
Keeping your posture will ensure that your putting is much more consistent.
The arcing stroke – your arms are set up to be roughly perpendicular to your spine. Therefore, it follows that if your shoulders were to rotate, they would rotate perpendicular to the plane of your spine.
So if you’re standing rotating your shoulders, they wouldn’t tilt one way or another which means you would be able to rotate very effectively.
In a putting stroke you’re tilted forward, and now your spine is set up on a different plane because your back is at a 45-degree angle roughly.
Therefore, your shoulders are going to arc a bit when you are putting as you lean forward. This means that you’ll have to push your arms out away from your body in the backswing and on the through swing.
Most people have a slight arc when they are putting.
Using the correct grip
Perfecting the correct grip to work together with you lower body will help your putting to be more consistent.
Using the same grip that you use when you hit power shots is totally the wrong way to approach putting.
It is precisely the fact that you need a different amount of power for driving the ball down the course, that you need to alter the power you use when you putt.
Putting requires much more control and much less power than any other shot. Therefore, your grip will be completely different also.
You need to angle your wrists slightly downwards and grip the putter out of your fingers along the lifeline of your left hand.
The Pelz Institute of Golf has shown that using a “hinged” action in your grip adds power to your stroke making it harder to control distance.
Therefore, it follows that wrist motion negatively affects putting as you can't control distance and direction when in fact you need lots of control to putt accurately.
So make sure your grip doesn’t incorporate a hinged motion when putting.
What you need to do now
So if you want to putt like a pro, stand correctly, hold the putt correctly, practice practice, practice, but above all, try and relax and enjoy your game and don't over think the shot, or you will end up tensing and throwing yourself off balance.
Andy is now the proud owner/director of www.Golfposer.com, an international golf designer apparel and footwear company based in Linlithgow, Scotland.
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