Your left wrist bends toward the hole at impact. This scooping action sends the ball skipping off line and makes distance control impossible.
Practice putting with a 3-iron. Because your 3-iron has so much more loft th a n your putter, the only way to keep the ball rolling on line is to deloft the face by allowing your hands to lead the clubhead into impact.
How to do it
Take your normal putting stance, with the ball centered between your feet. Now sole your 3-iron behind the ball
so that the face is almost completely de-lofted (straight up and down) and pointed at the target. To do this, the shaft must lean forward—the butt of the club should point at your left shoulder. This will place your hands ahead of the clubhead at impact.
Take the club back a foot or two and then bring it th rough impact and then the same distance into your follow-through, keeping your hands ahead of the club all the way. The putt should roll cleanly, without skipping or becoming airborne. This is the stroke—and the wrist position—that you’re looking for.
Throttle Back to Succeed
Play smart to keep pressure off your game
Pressure and fear heighten your senses on the course, making you more diligent about your game and more cognizant of your thought processes on the course. That’s a good thing. But when you cross a line, and pressure and fear take control of your emotions, you’re headed for trouble.
1. One way to guard against this is to throttle back your mind. For starters, you can change your scoring expectations. On the six highest-handicap holes on the course, add one stroke to the actual par number, and discipline yourself to play to that number no matter what. This will add an extra margin of error to these holes, which will help free your mind and body to make solid swings on each shot, rather than forcing you to make once-in-a-lifetime shots in an effort to shoot a tough number.
2. The same technique applies to individual shots. Tee shots-especially on the first hole-are an obvious example. There’s no worse way to start a round than to hit your opening drive OB or into the thick rough. Throttle back! Give up 20 or 30 yards and use a fairway wood or hybrid to simply get the ball in the fairway.
3. Other situations work the same way. If you’re faced with the prospect of hitting a heroic 3-iron to a tucked pin position at the back of the green, but you have the option of hitting an easy 5-iron to an open spot on the front of the green, throttle back! Opt for the latter shot and take the pressure off both that a n d the next shot.
Richard Coop, Ph.D., is our mental-game consultant.