As the instruction editor for GOLF Magazine, during 1982 and 1983, senior instruction editor (1984-1998), and consulting editor, in 1999, writing articles with top PGA Tour pros and top PGA affiliated teachers, even naming the 50 best golf instructors in America and involved in picking the best top 100 instructors, and writing books with all these “pros,” you can imagine how many guys I interviewed on the subject of putting, highlighted by the guru of gurus, Dave Pelz, the former NASA scientist who seemed to have everything about what Tiger calls “rolling the rock” figured out.
Well, yes and no. Ironically, the best tip I ever got on putting did not come from Dave, or other putting guru, Stan Utley, but, instead, from LPGA player and Hall of Fame member, Nancy Lopez.
During a session on putting, the purpose of which was to produce a couple of articles on this vitally important department of the game, for GOLF Magazine, after Nancy joined our staff as a Playing Editor, Nancy told me this.
“John, putting is the most personalized department of the game, so I don’t care how a player grips the putter or how unorthodox their putting setup might be, as long as he or she does one thing that I believe is the secret to consistently hitting on-line putts into the hole.”
Anxious to hear this secret, Nancy told me to pick a spot, for example a tiny darker or lighter shade of grass, a couple of inches ahead of the ball, and along the line to the hole.
Now, to take the pressure off focusing on the hole and trying to sink the putt, to focus all my mental energy on my initial target spot. Heed this same advice.
Next, set the putter down behind the ball, with the center of the putter’s face aimed directly at your spot, confident if you stroke through the ball, with the bottom of the putter’s head rolling over your spot, the ball will steadily hold its line to its final destination: The hole.
All you need do, next, is what I watched Nancy do, 9 out of 10 times, from around ten feet out from the hole: Listen for the ball to rattle the cup, then look up.
Nancy, whose father taught her golf, is still one of the game’s all-time best putters, and one of the world’s best and most liked human beings.
Tailoring the Tip: To aid you in lining up the putter’s face square to the golf ball, the spot you picked out, a la Nancy Lopez style, and the hole, I suggest ordering the LINKSWALKER Pro-Victory golf ball featuring directional lines for ease in lining up and training you to be a “square” at address when putting.
As for learning to “die” the ball in the hole – so it rolls slow enough to fall into the side door of the cup, rather than charging the hole which may have worked well in Arnold Palmer’s day when greens were slow, but not now on the super-speedy greens, even at public and private country club courses – consider also the LINKSWALKER Donut with a sweet spot hole that will only accommodate the slower, evenly-paced putt.
And when practicing on the putting green, train yourself to focus more on an interim target spot by placing one of the LinksWalker ball markers on the spot you picked out along the target line, and just practice focusing, concentrating intently. That way when you take the marker away and stare at the spot, you will be much more apt to roll your golf ball right over it, on its way to the hole!