Who: Adam Scott
What: 13-foot putt to save par
Where: 405-yard par 4 11th hole at TPC San Antonio
When: Final round of the Valero Texas Open
Holing a 13-footer for par in the middle of a round wouldn’t be a big deal to most top players, but the putt was huge for Adam Scott and his fragile confidence. His putting has been a shambles for a couple of years (he ranked 177th on the PGA Tour in 2009 and this year he’s 175th), and a miss would have cut his lead to just two shots. Instead, he hit the putt and went on to win the tournament. Three weeks ago Scott found new life with the flatstick during a lesson with Dave Stockton. Scott says that Stockton helped him to learn to “not get so caught up in mechanics and really, you know, enjoy hitting every putt.”
It’s no surprise that Stockton’s work with Scott focused on the mind, not mechanics. Nothing in golf is more fragile to your confidence than putting. Even when you’re putting well, it’s easy to get down if you miss a single putt. The bottom line: Mechanics are important, but trust is ultimately what allows you to make a putt.
The Drill: Here’s one of my favorite ways to build confidence on the greens. Go to a practice green with several holes. Bring a few balls, but don’t take a putter. Kneel on the green and roll one ball at a time toward a hole, trying to roll the ball into the cup. Use a pendulum, putter-like motion with your arm, letting your arm swing back and forth from your shoulder joint. Without the putter, you won’t feel the same pressure to get the ball into the hole, but you will be learning key aspects of putting: how the ball breaks, how to read greens and how to judge speed. Rolling balls to holes when kneeling is something I do regularly, and you should too if you want to be a great putter.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher John Elliott works at St. Andrews Golf & Country Club in West Chicago, Il.