Dave Pelz: Turn into birdie machine using visualization drill

Thursday June 19th, 2014
“Hit” two putts on every hole: Roll a practice one in your mind, and then, when it counts, simply repeat what your mind imagined.
Angus Murray

Great putters aren't born. They're made. Putting is a learned skill, not a strand of DNA you're blessed with. True, some learn to putt faster and better than others, but it's a skill that anyone can acquire. You're not destined to continue missing putts that you know you should make.

One way to speed up your learning is by watching. As with other tasks that require precision, I've found (and proven) that golfers usually stroke the ball better if they see someone else roll the same putt first, especially on breaking putts. The benefit comes from the knowledge gained by watching an "example" roll and seeing the actual speed and break that the putt requires.

If you don't believe me, stroke every putt twice for an entire round. Make your first attempt on each green a "trial-putt," then roll a second ball from the same spot. It won't take you many holes to realize how much easier it is to determine the correct aim and speed when you're allowed a practice attempt.

Of course, you can't play like this during actual rounds, but the concept is useful. Before stroking any putt, give yourself a "free visual" of how it will roll. Actually "see" the ball come off the putterface and roll into the hole with perfect speed on the appropriate path given the break, just like a practice putt. Here's how to do it:

STEP 1

Walk behind the hole, look back at the ball and imagine the putt's roll. Is it uphill or downhill? See it roll toward you, and see exactly how it falls into the hole. Start drawing the path you expect the ball to take in your mind's eye.

STEP 2

Walk to a spot behind the ball, keeping your imagination in high gear. Visualize the putt's starting line and its break into the cup. Run this mental video in real time, getting a feel for the curvature of the putt's track and speed.

STEP 3

Once you see the putt-track clearly, move sideways until your eyes [and body] are facing the starting line that you pictured in Step 2. Make several practice strokes while visualizing the putt.

STEP 4

The moment you feel that the energy of your practice stroke matches the speed you'll need, step in and make your stroke. Don't delay or think about mechanics. Simply roll the ball like it's a second-chance putt.


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