Visualisation: It’s hard to hit a good putt unless you can see it first in your imagination

If you can’t see a good putt in your imagination, you’ll probably find it very difficult to create a putt that travels on the right line at the appropriate pace and disappears into the hole.  

A clear image of what you want the ball to do helps create a ‘map of movement’ for your body to follow. 

If you draw a line on your ball and you see a line of the path the ball will travel to the hole in your mind’s eye, the chances are that the line you see will be an extension of the line on your ball. 

That line you see will be a very, very thin one. This tells your brain you have to roll your ball along that thin line. Think of it like walking along a tightrope. How comfortable, confident or relaxed would you be about that?  

For years, golfers have used a builder’s chalk line as a training aid and focused their attention on rolling their ball along that incredibly thin line. If the ball falls off that line, even if it ends up in the hole, that would be regarded as a failure as the task was to keep the ball on the chalk line. Some might say that golf is a game of precision and practising to be extremely precise is definitely the way forward. 

If it works for you then carry on. However, if it doesn’t we suggest you use two chalk lines. 

One on the left edge of the hole and one 4.25 inches directly opposite on the right edge of the hole. You can also put your alignment rods to good use here to create the same visual aid.  

Suddenly your line has gone from being as thin as a razor’s edge to as wide as the hole itself. What would be easier, putting along the tightrope, or putting down a 4.25-inch-wide channel? You might find it helpful to think of it as a gutter. 

Focusing on the thin line puts your attention almost entirely on line, whereas giving yourself the entire width of the hole, frees up your mind and your muscles and allows you to focus on pace. 

Have you ever visualised the line being as wide as the hole? Neither had 99 per cent of our students but once they started to see that much wider, thicker line, they were amazed at how easy it is to hole putts and you will be too. 

While we’re on the subject of width or thickness of line, if that line had a colour, what colour would it be? Initially, most people struggle to see a line that is at least as wide as the hole. Why? Quite simply because they have never looked for it before.  

Think of your favourite colour or a colour that would stand out against the green of the putting surface. Try closing your eyes and experimenting with different colours in your imagination. You will soon find one that stands out vividly against the green.  

Your golf ball, at 1.68 inches in diameter doesn’t even take up half the width of that newly introduced 4.25 inch line. 

That being the case, there is actually room for at least two golf balls to fit into the hole. 

In fact, there is actually enough room for three golf balls, if they are hit on different lines at different paces.  

As the line changes according to the pace you hit your putt, so does your entry point. 

For example, if you take the high line with less pace and a lot of break, your entry point is going to be on the right side of the hole on a right-to-left putt. The more break or borrow you allow for the more your entry point moves from the centre of the hole. This is something you will have to consider when visualising what the ball has to do in order to allow gravity to do its thing and pull your ball into the hole. 

One final thought: Always ensure the line and pace you visualise actually makes it as far as the hole. This may sound like we’re stating the obvious but experience tells us that even some of the best players in the world don’t actually visualise the ball or line disappearing into the hole.

The Lost Art of Putting

This excerpt was taken from Gary and Karl’s book, The Lost Art of Putting which is available in hardback and Kindle formats.

Click here to get your copy.

Where do you look to find out the contours of a green?

We’ve all the seen or played with the guy who looks at every putt from every angle right? What is he looking for? Basically, clues that will lead him to make a decision on how hard to hit his putt and what line to hit it on. Line and pace. 

We don’t recommend that you study every putt from every conceivable angle – a round of golf takes long enough.  

However, we do believe you should look at ALL your putts from the LOW side.  

Once you figure out where the low side is, use your eyes and feet to help you here, look at it from around halfway down the length of the putt and three or four paces back from the line.  

For example, when faced with a 20-foot putt, walk what you think is 10 feet then take a few steps back.  

Crouching down so that your eyes are closer to the ground will help you see the contours a little more clearly but even standing up, you will see a lot more than you will ever see from only looking down the line from behind the ball. 

You will effectively be looking at what you face in 3D HD widescreen. You will see the full picture if you stand far enough back to see both your ball and the hole in your peripheral vision. You will see the full length of the putt.  

If you only look at your putt “down the line”, it foreshortens the perceived distance. The chances are your eyes won’t actually make contact with the ground until 18 to 24 inches beyond the ball.  

This confuses your brain and it starts to compute the required distance, MINUS that 18 to 24 inches. When you think about it logically, it makes perfect sense that the resultant putt will probably come up short. 

You should also understand and be aware of the fact that a putt with two feet of break will travel further than a straight putt of what would at first glance to be the same length. Not something many golfers tend to factor in when determining the pace of any given putt and how hard to hit it. This makes a big difference and should not be overlooked as it will be a major factor in determining pace. 

Not only will you start to see the length of the putt in its entirety, you will notice if it is uphill or downhill, something that will have an effect on the speed of your putt and the pace at which you will need to hit it. You will see subtle undulations and changes in elevation, all of which will help with your decision making when it comes to where you hit your putt and how hard you hit it to give your ball the best possible chance of going in the hole. 

Trust us when we say that this will not add time to your round of golf but actually enable you to play faster. 

You can do your detective work while your playing partners are preparing to putt, so that you are truly ready when it is your turn.  

Because you will now be better equipped to roll your ball on the correct line at the appropriate pace, you will hole more putts, hit your approach putts closer, greatly reduce the number of three putts you have and ultimately spend less time on the greens. 

“What about looking at the putt from behind the hole looking back towards my ball? I’ve seen the pros doing that on TV.”  

Looking at your putt from this angle can help you determine an entry point. However, please understand that your eyes will see the additional distance beyond the hole and this will lead to your brain being fooled into thinking you have a greater distance to cover than you have in reality.  

It can also look a little different from this angle which can lead to you second-guessing all the information you have gathered from down the line and the low side. Second guessing leads to uncertainty and indecision, which in turn leads to a lack of commitment.  

The Lost Art of Putting

This excerpt was taken from Gary and Karl’s book, The Lost Art of Putting which is available in hardback and Kindle formats.

Click here to get your copy.

Line and pace

Which is more important in putting? Think carefully about your answer.

The majority of coaching, instruction and training aids, devices and gadgets tend to focus on or obsess about two things: What we as golfers need to do with our body and with our putter.  

Aim and start line. We have to get the start line right. We must get the ball starting on line.  

We’re not saying this is wrong. Well, not entirely anyway.  

Yes, you still need to be aware of where the putter is aiming at address and facing at the point of contact. Good alignment is an essential aspect of becoming a great putter.  

We are merely suggesting that if you have read all the instruction articles and manuals, tried all of these training aids, watched all of the video tutorials and you still don’t putt as well as you think or believe you can, let’s look at putting slightly differently, let’s open our minds to a different concept.  

You’ll be amazed that by focusing on pace, your brain and body will organise what they need to do to get the start line better anyway.  

This is one of those anomalies where you get better at something by NOT focusing on it. Strange but true.  

We have all read the books, seen the videos, used the technology and tried the training aids and gadgets.  

They all focus on one end of the putt: the start; the end where we are focusing on our putter, trying out yet another gadget, a thinner grip, a thicker grip, a different way of holding the putter – and that’s before we even get to our numerous “stroke thoughts”.  

We believe you need to pay more attention to the other end of the putt. The part where the hole is. After all, that’s where we want the ball to go. Our intention is ultimately to get the ball to go in the hole.  

Gary remembers being introduced to the concept that pace was more important than line at a very early stage in his golfing life when his late father suggested he concentrate a bit more on trying to get the distance better with his putts after three-putting for the fourth time one Sunday morning. 

The frustrating three-putts were due almost entirely to hitting his first putts four feet past or leaving them six feet short.  

He was only 10 years old at the time and while he didn’t really understand the concept of pace determining the line, he did stop three-putting as frequently!  

Hitting the ball out the sweet spot is vitally important if you are to have any chance of hitting your putts the correct distance. 

Most modern putters have a built-in alignment aid in one form or another but most golfers we see tend to use them for ensuring the putting is “square” to their intended target or start line.  

Nothing wrong with that whatsoever but that alignment aid should also be used to make sure we have the middle of the putter and the middle of the ball match up in order to give you the greatest chance of hitting the ball the correct distance – or basically getting the pace right.  

We know that if we hit our driver out the heel or toe, the resultant shots rarely travel the full or desired distance or direction. The same applies to an off-centre strike with your putter.  

A heel or toe strike on a 10-foot putt can result in the ball traveling less than 80 per cent of the intended distance.  

We all know we should strike the ball out the sweet spot but when was the last time you actually paid any ATTENTION to doing just that? Something worth looking at? We certainly believe so. 

From what we have witnessed as coaches over the years, the majority of golfers tend to address the ball slightly toe-side of centre. As a result, the majority of their putts come up short. Did they make bad strokes? Generally not. Did they mis-strike them or miss the sweet spot? Generally yes.  

With that in mind, rather than trying to create a perfect stroke, whatever that looks like, we’d like you to focus on the concept of creating a putt.  

The Lost Art of Putting

This excerpt was taken from Gary and Karl’s book, The Lost Art of Putting which is available in hardback and Kindle formats.

Click here to get your copy.

Two questions: Challenge yourself to provide the answers before every putt you hit

In the main, golfers ask dreadful questions: Why are these greens so slow? Why are they so bumpy? Why is play so slow? Will I ever hole another putt? Why is my putting so poor today?  

Poor questions assist poor attention and poor attention will help you to miss a whole bunch of putts.  

Understand that there is a big difference between asking positive questions and ‘trying’ to think positive. 

Thinking positive often involves a statement about a future event that we make a prediction about.  

‘I am going to hole this putt’ is a very positive statement. 

We can make this statement over and over in our mind to try to convince ourselves of something we probably don’t really believe. 

Often a golfer will start out a round making a lot of positive statements: It will be my day today, I am going to play great, I think I will hole everything. 

We make those positive statements with the best of intentions but then reality takes over. The game kicks us in the teeth, we miss a bunch of putts and then many players will flip completely to the other side and just cave in to the negative and it becomes ‘I can’t hole anything’.  

Surely there has to be a better way. What about a way of being that you can stick with? A way of being that begins on the 1st green and only runs out when you hole your last putt on the 18th? 

The great coach Fred Shoemaker who has had such a big influence on our thinking said many years ago: “One of the bravest things a golfer can stay open to is the possible.” 

Perhaps the foundation of great putting is the question: “Is it possible that I could hole this putt?” 

The answer of course is yes. Unless you choose otherwise.  

The very fact that you believe it is possible now has your mind open to that possibility. You are not bound by a past story. You may well have holed nothing all day, you may well have struggled with the putter but you can still choose to ask the question: “Is it possible that I could hole this putt?” 

The answer is yours to choose. The bravest thing you can do is stay open to the possible. 

There is a whole world of difference between making a statement you have no control over and asking a question that puts you in a position of control. 

You cannot control if the ball finds its way into the hole but you can stay open to that possibility. 

We have found this liberates a player from the endless loop of insanity of trying to be positive but then giving up to being negative. 

It creates a wonderfully calm kind of neutral state that just gets immersed in the task at hand, which is to roll this ball here – in this unique moment in time – towards that hole over there. 

This unique putt that you have never had before and will never have again. 

Answering the ‘possible’ question then gives you the opportunity to ask the second and perhaps even more important question to give you the best chance with the putt you are facing.  

As you look from behind the ball, ask yourself: What does this ball need to do to go in the hole? Again: What does this ball need to do to go in the hole? 

Your mind will go in search of the answer. It will start to create a line, it will sense a pace. It will come up with an answer. Will the answer always be the correct one? Perhaps, perhaps not. 

But the more you ask this question, the more the habit develops and the more you will find your powerful supercomputer between your ears will start to come up with some good answers. 

You may notice that after you have answered the question an image forms in your mind. 

At times the answer will come instantly to you. At other times the answer will take a little longer to form in your mind but, for sure, if you ask the question you WILL start to answer it. 

The Lost Art of Putting

This excerpt was taken from Gary and Karl’s book, The Lost Art of Putting which is available in hardback and Kindle formats.

Click here to get your copy.

Attention: Are you truly ready to putt when you stand over the ball?

Consider that the walk from your approach shot to the green is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to get lost in thought – past or future – in what may or may not be. Or it could be the opportunity to create the mental conditions to allow yourself to hole a putt. To receive the information the green is trying to give you. 

The walk on to the green can either set you up to feel anxiety and dread or it could be an opportunity to place your attention in a place you personally find to be really useful. Time and time again with players who think their stroke is at fault, we have had real and lasting success by simply getting them to work on their ‘walk’ up to the green. 

Just imagine now if you made a commitment as you walk up to the green you simply place your attention on your breath. 

Most importantly, you breathe in and out through the nose. 

you do not attempt to take a deep breath in through the mouth heaving your shoulders up at the same time, as this will only serve to increase any tension levels. 

You are aiming to slow down the breath gently as you inhale and exhale through the nose. You may notice your mind wandering to what the putt may be for or you drift back to the putts you have just missed but you notice this and gently just allow your focus of attention to your nose breathing. 

At the very least this is a wonderful exercise to train your attention. You are in effect meditating while you are walking.  

You are deciding to put your attention in a place you deem to be useful. You are quietening the mind while at the same time grounding yourself in the present moment.  

Many players report back that this is a deeply satisfying exercise. It actually feels good to be present. 

The walk itself becomes a pleasure for its own sake. 

You may not find the time to formally meditate but you get exactly the same benefit by doing this exercise. The science on meditation is very strong – it has been proven to be good for you.  

As a very pleasant side effect to all of that healthy benefit, we believe you will be pleasantly surprised at the effect on your putting. You may begin to notice when you do this that as you walk onto the green you start to get a sharper, in-focus look and feel of the slopes and undulations of the greens. Your ability to visualise the line and pace of the putt improves. All of this is because with ‘the walk’ you are so much more in tune with your body as opposed to being lost in your head.  

As you are more tuned in to your body you are synchronising your system to take in the relevant information that you need to hole the putt. 

The Lost Art of Putting

This excerpt was taken from Gary and Karl’s book, The Lost Art of Putting which is available in hardback and Kindle formats.

Click here to get your copy.

What is your story?

How many putts have you already decided are going to miss before you even reach the green – and isn’t it about time you changed that? 

A missed putt in and of itself means nothing beyond the meaning we personally attach to it.  

Great putters tend to adopt a good attitude to putting. Your story will determine or at the very least, heavily influence your attitude. 

Now, here is the key: the stories you tell yourself will either be useful to you or useless, exactly the same principle we will discover with attention. The narrative will either support your goals or the stories will hold you back.  

What you will produce in the outside world will be relative to the stories you keep telling yourself. The stories we tell ourselves can begin to act out, even at a subconscious level. 

As Trevor Sylvestor, a great therapist, tells us: what the thinker thinks the prover proves. 

So, if we think we are poor on the greens then the ‘prover’ inside our minds will seek supporting evidence.  

Every three-putt is a confirmation of the story. Every stroke feeling a bit jerky and every long putt left short is the opportunity for the prover to ‘prove’ he is a poor putter.  

Any evidence to counter that belief is ignored. The putts rolled smoothly, the birdie putts that go in, the great lag putt from 50 feet? They are all passed over because the thinker thinks we are poor at putting so it doesn’t in any way go looking for any evidence to contradict that story. 

The thinker loves to help the prover by talking about how many putts he has taken. He draws company in the misery of poor putting. He tries to recruit other ‘believers’ who struggle on the greens.  

There is almost a badge of honour worn by people who putt badly and they are only too willing to share it with others. 

There is more of an honour in being a good ball-striker than a good putter. 

The ‘he is a great ball-striker’ story is delivered with a puffed-out chest and a sense of dramatic pride yet how often have we heard people say that such-and-such a player can’t really hit it but get him on the greens and he is something of a ‘blade merchant’ – almost as if it is a lesser ability to be great on the greens. 

People love to hear about legendary ball-strikers such as Ben Hogan and Mac O’Grady yet the same aura doesn’t seem to be afforded to great putters such as Bobby Locke, Ben Crenshaw and Loren Roberts. 

Some players will look back with regret on their careers as a result of being less than they could have been on the greens – partly as a result of the story they bought into of the ego-boosting value of ball-striking over the simple task of rolling the ball on the green. 

So what is your story? How have you constructed a narrative around what happens when you have a putter in your hand? How do you talk about your performance on the greens? 

How do you talk about your putting with others – and perhaps more importantly with yourself? 

What do you say to yourself when you putt well? Do you dismiss those days as flukes? 

How do you explain the days when the ball just doesn’t want to go in? 

Consider how much the story you have carried around with you for so long might have held back your progress. 

Do you want to keep with the same old story or could it perhaps be the time to take charge of a new script? Do you want to be the author of your own future story or do you want to keep following the same old script? 

The most important aspect to understand is unless you change your story – the narrative you continually tell yourself – then no matter how many times you change your putter or no matter how much work you do on your putting stroke, you will never see any lasting change.  

Stories are that powerful. They bind us to our own self-imposed reality. 

The Lost Art of Putting

This excerpt was taken from Gary and Karl’s book, The Lost Art of Putting which is available in hardback and Kindle formats.

Click here to get your copy.

OUT NOW – The Lost Art of Putting

Does the stroke create the putt or does the putt create the stroke?

This is a fundamental question examined in the brand new book on putting written by Karl Morris and Gary Nicol

Titled ‘ The Lost Art of Putting’ Karl and Gary explore what could be getting in the way of you being so much better on the greens.

  • Have you spent a great deal of time trying to ‘perfect’ your stroke? Yet you seem to hole nothing.
  • Are you obsessed with start lines?
  • Do you have a house full of putting ‘gadgets’. Yet never seem to get many putts falling into the cup.
  • Has your putting got progressively worse over the years?

Then this is the book for you!!

With over 60 years combined coaching experience at the very highest level, Karl and Gary bring a refreshingly new perspective to the putting arena.

Having coached numerous Major winning and Ryder Cup golfers the ‘putting performance principles’ in this book have been tested at every level of the game

Full of practical and applicable advice ‘The Lost Art of Putting’ contains ideas to transform your putting from the very next time you play.

This book will help you become more child-like on the greens and less childish. The game of golf is not about finding ‘the’ way to do it but more a case of discovering, or perhaps more importantly uncovering, ‘your’ way to do it. The perspective and concepts they share with you in this book have the potential to liberate you so that you can experience what you are truly capable of on the greens.

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Judging distance when putting can be a complicated part of the game. Eight time European Tour winner and former Ryder Cup star Paul Lawrie gives us a few putting tips on how to become more confident on the greens.

One of the main things you need to do is put towards your target circle of 3-4 feet. If you get the ball inside there you can feel confident about tidying up.

Watch the video above for more tips from Paul Lawrie on distance putting.

Hole those short putts every time with Paul Lawrie

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Watch the video above for Lawrie’s advice on nailing those tricky ones every time…