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Putting Drill, the Short and Long

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  • Putting Drill, the Short and Long

    Greetings,

    I read recently that a good way to practice is to emphasize success, not failure. I agree with that. One way to do that, as I read, is to practice only three foot putts and thirty foot putts. Nothing else. The purpose of the three foot putt is to practice success. The purpose of the thirty foot putt is to send the ball to within three feet of the hole. The principle here is that once we master the three foot putt and the thirty foot putt, we can finish any hole with two putts or less from anywhere on the green. No more three putts or worse.

    I wanted to try that at home so I use a carpet. After a while, I noticed that the ball grooves a line within which it likes to stay. That's cool but it sort of defeats the purpose of becoming good at holing putts. So I suggest that you find a carpet with very short and/or stiff fibers so that the ball doesn't groove itself a line.

    Anyway, I roll the end of the rug on one end and put a ball there as my target. Then I set up and aim at that ball. I try to hit it head on with the other ball. I repeat as often as I like. I usually do that about an hour a day or so. I've become quite good at it. When summer gets around, I'll get to practice the thirty footer.


    Things I've learned.

    When I say I've become good at it, I mean that I've learned a lot about putting in general. For instance, I putt best when I strike the ball on the sweet spot. It took some practice just to find the sweet spot but once I found it, it became much easier to judge distance and direction. It's easier to judge direction because the putter head doesn't twist when I strike the ball so I'm not tempted to twist back. It's easier to judge distance because I know how much force I must apply to produce a specific distance. When I struck the ball anywhere on the face, I didn't know how much distance I would get. Then once in a while I'd hit the sweet spot and send the ball about 10 feet past the hole.


    A round grip.

    I learned that I prefer a round grip without taper and without any particular shape that either helps or hinders how I grip the putter. I prefer round because then I can grip and align the putter any way I want. Just for that reason, it makes it easier to use the putter. I'm free of the restrictions of odd shaped grips. Also, with a round grip, I can make the grip as long or as short as I want (if I use electric tape for example) so I can hold the club at the exact length I prefer and that makes it easier to use as well.


    A short stroke.

    I experimented with all kinds of strokes and found that I prefer a short back stroke with a controlled and deliberate forward stroke. A long and/or slow back stroke only made it more difficult to control the putter's alignment and I was not striking the ball precisely that way. A long slow back stroke is somewhat unnatural to me. I don't mean that I jerk the club back and forth like I have the yips or something. I make a deliberate stroke without hesitation or undue delay. A short back stroke makes it easier to keep the putter head aligned.


    Striking the ground.

    All through practice, at times I'll get the putter head stuck on the rug. I even do that when I play or practice on the green so it's not a surprise to me. So I looked for a way to prevent that snag from affecting my stroke. In part, the problem is that I try to strike the ball on the up stroke. So no more up stroke for me. I strike the ball on an even stroke from now on. The problem was still there so I found a way to eliminate it altogether. This is what I do. I set the putter head behind the ball as I address it. When I've aligned it to my liking, I tap it once gently on the ground behind the ball to feel the ground height and raise it back up to strike height, then I make the stroke. Not only does this prevent me from striking the ground to keep the putter head aligned properly, it helps me strike the ball on the sweet spot height wise.


    Swing path versus face alignment.

    I found that it's much more important to align the putter head properly and strike the ball that way than to swing the club in the "correct" path. I found that the swing path only affects the ball if it's in a groove (like the one the ball made as it rolled on the rug). Brushing the ball with the putter head will impart side spin that will affect how the ball rolls. If the ball rolls on a surface that has edges on it such as a groove, it will get caught up on that edge and begin to zigzag as it rolls towards the target. If the side spin is sufficiently strong, the ball will miss. But only by a small margin. Conversely, when I strike the ball with a misaligned putter face, I miss my target by a lot because the ball starts on the wrong line from the start.


    All these things combined make quite a difference. I've improved my skill. I've gained confidence in my ability. I've learned all this from practicing a three footer. Perhaps the three footer is the best and most productive distance to practice, who knows.

    Anyway, try that drill and see if it makes a difference for you. Let's call it the 3:30 drill.

  • #2
    Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

    Thanks, Martin. I like your point about raising the putter slightly off the ground. I do that with the driver and it's surprising how much difference it makes to the takeaway. Will try that with the putter as well.

    Also agree entirely with the point about the sweet spot. It's amazing how difficult it can be to find with the putter!

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    • #3
      Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

      A great read, Martin. Thanks.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

        Sounds good, I am going to try! I have a drill that I play with my friend to encourage not leaving putts short. We pick holes and you get 3 points if you make it...1 point if you hit it within a putter length past the hole and you AUTOMATICALLY LOSE if you LEAVE IT SHORT. This has helped us both be more aggressive confident putters! I have more info about putting on my blog if you are interested... Putting

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        • #5
          Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

          Originally posted by SuperGolferMan View Post
          Sounds good, I am going to try! I have a drill that I play with my friend to encourage not leaving putts short. We pick holes and you get 3 points if you make it...1 point if you hit it within a putter length past the hole and you AUTOMATICALLY LOSE if you LEAVE IT SHORT. This has helped us both be more aggressive confident putters! I have more info about putting on my blog if you are interested... Putting
          Sounds like something I thought of a couple years ago. Here it is:

          http://www.golf-tuition-online.com/s...ill-gimme.html

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          • #6
            Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

            After further practice, I've learned more about putting in general.


            Path is important after all.

            The clubhead path is a precursor of the clubhead alignement. We align the head according to its path. I think it's only natural to align it for a push when I swing the club out-to-in, and to align it for a pull when I swing the club in-to-out, and finally to align it for a straight shot when I swing the club in the correct path. Otherwise, I make adjustments on the fly so that I can still strike the ball properly and send it to my target. So, path is important after all.


            How can we learn the proper path?

            One way is to simply concentrate and do whatever is necessary to swing the club back and forth in the proper path. Easy to say, much more difficult to do in practice. There is no visual cue to the correct path the club should take. There doesn't need to be one but if there was one, it would certainly help.


            A visual cue to the correct path.

            Bear in mind that the club is swung in an arc which is at an angle relative to the ground. So in effect, it's an ellipse. But we won't worry about this for now. Let's just find a straight line that we can put parallel to our target line and use that as a visual cue to the proper path. We'll adjust accordingly. If you used a rug like I did, you already have a straight line (the edge of the rug), it's just a matter of using it as a guide.


            The edge of the rug.

            Stand off the rug. Put the ball on the rug close to the edge. Align the putter head so that the heel is aligned with the edge of the rug. Swing back and forth. Slowly at first to teach the correct motion. Take care to see that the clubhead goes off the rug a bit (really only a bit, the curve is only slight) back there and also after you struck the ball. This will simulate the elliptic path I spoke of. Repeat. Once you are confident that you can swing the club in this elliptic path, go ahead and resume the 3 foot drill. Perhaps you'll notice a marked improvement in your accuracy. I know I have.


            Force, how much to put in.

            I've also learned a way to meter the force I put in the stroke. I use my right foot as a guide. Just inside the right foot is my 5 footer force. Just at my right foot is my 10 footer force. And just outside my right foot is my 15 footer force. The distances may not be exact but the point is to have a good guide for short, medium and long distances. Farther than that should be my 30 footer force but I can't figure that out until I get out next summer. Anyway, I figure if my right foot can help me, your right foot can help you too.


            Can't fix force AND path at the same time.

            When I was fiddling with path, I found that it was difficult for me to fiddle with force at the same time. I don't really know why even though I have some idea about the reason. Anyway, the solution is simple. I must learn proper path first, when that's solidly learned and automatic, then I'll focus on force. It doesn't take long to learn either technique, it's just difficult to forget about one when I'm focusing on the other. Especially when I put too much force on the stroke. Then I'm tempted to switch my focus to control force but then I lose focus on path and can't control that properly. In other words, I get confused as I swing the club. So, it's best to focus on one at a time until it becomes automatic.


            Have fun.

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            • #7
              Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

              To stop striking the ground, stack 4 coins on top of each other. The object is to complete your putting stroke without moving the bottom coin. In Australia 20 cent pieces work well

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

                Ball speed, the determining factor.

                Since I practice on a rug, I have only a vague idea of what the ball will do at the hole if I strike it the same way on grass. In other words, I just don't know if the ball speed is sufficiently low to allow the ball to drop. We all know how frustrating it is to make a good putt only to see the ball lip out because it was going too fast for its trajectory. If only it was going a tiny little bit slower, it would have dropped. At least, that's the thought that crossed my mind on too many occasions.


                Maximum ball speed to drop.

                This information is not widely known but it certainly is very useful to know. As I've learned, the maximum speed the ball can travel is about 51 inches per second (51 in/s) or 9 revolutions per second (9 rpm). Easy to figure out, get a timer to beep every second, strike the ball and see how far it rolls in one second. And even then, for the ball to drop at this speed, it must be traveling precisely in the center line of the hole as it crosses it. Anywhere else and the ball just lips out. Depending on the green speed (I'm thinking about 10 stimpmeter), at 51 in/s, the ball will shoot past about 4 feet if it misses the hole entirely. So that's another good indicator of ball speed. Keep this distance in mind, it becomes important to know when judging how much force to put in.

                Another good indicator of speed is the distance it bounces back when it hits the upturned rug. When I figure out how fast I should roll it, I'll known how far it bounces back so I can use that as an indicator as well. The more information I can rely on, the more precisely I know how much force to put in.


                The 3 foot putt.

                I'm only practicing the 3 foot putt on the rug, not a 7 foot putt. I don't need to roll the ball at 51 in/s at the 3 foot marker so that it can travel 7 feet. I only need to roll it fast enough so that it rolls 3 feet and a bit, not 3 feet + 4 feet (as we've learned above). How much more than 3 feet? I don't know but by rolling the ball so that it rolls 3 feet in one second (36 in/s), I can make sure it drops when it gets to the hole on a real green.

                It's more complicated than that because the ball decelerates as it rolls but let's just focus on making the ball roll 36 inches in one second for now. We'll worry about the math later. Much later.


                Counting taps.

                Remember that I tap the putter head to feel ground depth. This alone is a good method to count time. So I tap the putter head to count time and keep a good tempo and to measure how fast I roll the ball. Etc. I used to play drums. When reading a partition or just practicing, I used to count 1&2&3&4& (literally I'd say "one and two and three and") out loud. So, I already have a good way to keep tempo. An example below.

                T = 120 bpm
                Distance = 3 feet (36 inches)

                (slow stroke)
                1 tap
                &
                2 tap
                & begin back stroke
                3 end back stroke
                & begin forward stroke
                4 strike ball
                & ball rolls
                1 ball drops

                or

                (medium stroke)
                1 tap
                &
                2 tap
                &
                3 begin back stroke
                &
                4 strike ball
                & ball rolls
                1 ball drops


                or

                (quick stroke)
                1 tap
                &
                2 tap
                &
                3 tap
                & stroke
                4 strike ball
                & ball rolls
                1 ball drops

                As we can see, it involves striking the ball on 4 and dropping it on 1. It takes quite a bit of practice to count out loud and make the stroke at the proper speed but I think I'll improve my stroke with this.

                Have fun.
                Last edited by Martin Levac; 11-10-2007, 05:36 PM.

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                • #9
                  Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

                  I picked up a few practice tips that assist with reward and suppresses the failure effect when on the practice green prior to a game.

                  Instead of dropping a few balls on the green and putting to a holes from 20+ feet as most people are conditioned to do, or maybe they just follow what everyone else does. I practice putting balls to stop as close to the fringe as possible from differing distances but mainly 6 feet and in. I then put a tee in the green and putt to the tee, this way there is not the failure effect of the ball not dropping.

                  I hope this is of some help?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

                    I think it is, Brian. I'll do some of that next spring when I get the opportunity to practice on a real green. Meanwhile, I just thought of something else that might help us figure this thing out.


                    Count. Count putts, count mistakes, just count.

                    I count putts to help me focus on the immediate task. I count out loud otherwise I may just forget where I was. Also, I set a fixed count for a specific drill or specific technique. For instance, I count 10 putts for this particular speed. Then I may count 10 more for a different speed or for a difference goal altogether or for the same goal as before. This way, I can focus on rolling the balls at the speed I want and not, for instance, stray from my goal and start wondering why the ball doesn't roll straight. Perhaps it helps because it's like assigning a job to do. 10 putts to that speed. When done, repeat or do something else. In the meantime, count good putts, count mistakes. It also draws my attention away from my technique which would otherwise make me doubt myself.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

                      Wow!

                      That's some serious putting practice/thinking/application/theory!

                      Nice work!

                      I hope it helps when spring comes! Even if it doesn't, it was a good read!

                      I'm off to practice my 36" p/sec putts!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

                        Some good tips there, thanks guys. Putting is something I aim to improve over the winter period and tips like the ones above will greatly assist me.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Putting Drill, the Short and Long

                          Another drill that can be used to great effect.

                          Play pool

                          Aim for a ball. More specifically, aim to send a ball to collide with another ball to one side or the other. Simply aiming to collide two balls together gives a wide margin for error. It's good enough to begin with but for more precision, aim to collide the balls on one side. There, the margin for error is half so the requirement for precision is doubled. It takes only a short time to get serious with this drill and learn to focus on the task at hand.

                          Something that helps

                          After I align my body, I ground the club behind the ball. To dial in the precision, I turn the club back and forth all the while checking that the aim point on the putter head (it's a white line for my putter) is sweeping the target back and forth. Once I've determined the proper line, I keep it there and make the stroke. I keep my hands on the putter all the while. I don't re-align my body to make the stroke, I turn the club instead. This teaches me the whole range of address alignment from too much outside to too much inside and everything in between. I become proficient in all of the range, not just straight ahead.


                          With this drill, the requirement for precision is much greater than when striking the ball to hole it. The hole is much wider than the margin for error that striking two balls together can give. At least, that's what I thought at first. The ball must move at a maximum speed or below for it to drop so the requirement for precision to hole a ball is dependent on the speed it's going at the hole. The faster it moves, the greater the requirement for precision. This drill above will develop a greater precision but we still have to strike the ball so that it moves at an appropriate speed at the hole.

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