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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vijay’s Putting Trick

Many of you watching the last round of the PGA today may have heard that Vijay Singh was not looking at his ball or the head of his putter when he set up on the green, but was instead focusing on the hole. He sank some long bombs that way, and you might be wondering what the trick is and why it works.

The purpose of looking at the hole instead of the ball/putter is twofold. Looking at the target is what we normally do when we toss something to someone else, so it’s a familiar way of estimating the distance to that target. As such, it aids in feel, and it may help us to better hit the ball with proper speed.

The second and perhaps more important purpose is to help smooth out our putting stroke. Many of us have a tendency to try and manipulate the putter during the stroke, resulting in jabbed putts or jerking the clubhead off-line. If these tendencies become bad enough, we end up with ’the yips.’ The logic of looking at the hole is this: If you can’t see the clubhead approaching the ball, you can’t try to make these last minute adjustments; consequently you tend to hit the ball more solidly and with a more consistent speed.

I’ve used this technique before and it can be extremely helpful if you want to improve your putting stroke’s rhythm. If you decide to try it, you may find that you tend to push or pull putts. This is because turning your head to better see the hole can move your point of contact slightly. If you find yourself pushing putts, then move the ball slightly forward in your stance; if you’re pulling them, move the ball slightly back. Don’t move the ball more than an inch at a time; the adjustment isn’t a huge one. A few minutes on the practice green should be all you need to find the proper position.

Bear in mind that this putting method takes a mental adjustment; it can be hard to trust your stroke when you can’t see the actual contact between the clubface and ball. But if you learn to trust it, you may find that Vijay’s little trick is just what you’ve been looking for.

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