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Friday, July 8, 2011

A Putting Tip from the Constructivist

The Constructivist did a couple of posts about a new visualization technique he's been using in hopes of eliminating some "overthinking" during his putting. You can read his original post about the technique here and the results of his testing here.

Essentially, what TC does is pick a point to put to (or over) and get a clear picture of it in his head. He makes that the last thing he sees before he returns his eyes to the ball and strokes the putt without any delay. As he puts it, "Look, visualize, putt." There are no words involved at all; he just wants to see his target.

If you're into right brain / left brain theory, you'll understand the logic of this. Your right brain is responsible for processing visual info (pictures) and abstract concepts (like metaphors), while your left brain is responsible for processing aural info (words) and concrete concepts (like putting technique). To eliminate an over-emphasis on technique, you focus on what your target looks like.

For feel putters, this is a valuable concept. And it's possible to take the concept even further. Since many view me as an extremist in my approach to the game, it probably doesn't surprise you to know that I have done just that. ;-)

I learned a long time ago that I have the same problem TC does -- a tendency to get too obsessed with mechanics on the putting green. When I'm anywhere between the tee and a few yards of the green, I'm a numbers guy. I want to know yardages and I talk to myself, deciding first what shot to play and then telling myself how to play it. It's almost a black box approach -- punch in the numbers, get a swing.

But once I'm close enough to the green to take in the full shot with my eyes, I try to eliminate my "verbal mind" entirely. I may walk the distance between the ball and the hole, but I don't count the steps or estimate the footage. I don't tell myself how the ball will break. I don't "hear" anything at all in my head. I just look at the line, try to feel how much to swing the putter so the ball reaches the hole, and then I stroke the putt.

Other people have told me that they have trouble putting that way, but I find it gives me much better results. It's very similar to what TC is doing, only "drawn big," so most of you may find TC's method easier to apply to your own game. By all means stop by his site and check out the two posts I linked to in the first paragraph.

And don't forget to keep a relaxed grip on your putter. No matter how you choose to focus on your target, a light grip will always help you stroke the ball more smoothly.

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