Gary Nicol’s Winter Putting Training: Part 4

When you think of practice or training for the forthcoming season, chances are your thoughts will turn to honing your technique.

You may well think about working on your swing, getting that club “in the slot” at the top of the backswing or ensuring your putting stroke is silky smooth.

For decades we have been led to believe that if we make good swings and strokes, we will hit good shots and putts. Essentially, the culture of coaching has told us that good technique will protect us from bad golf.

Sadly that just isn’t true. In over thirty years of coaching, I have seen sufficient evidence to back that up. Not for a second am I saying that technique isn’t important, far from it. However, in our pursuit of perfection, we tend to overlook the “human skills” required to play good golf. Skills like attention and visualisation.

If the practice putting green isn’t quite as smooth and fast as it would be in peak season, perhaps it isn’t the best environment to work on your putting stroke. That said, you can still venture out there to work on the aforementioned human skills. In the previous parts of this series, I talked about green reading and paying particular attention to the pace of your putts.

Attention is a wonderful word and concept. I would go as far as to say that golf is a game of attention. When faced with a putt, your attention will, in all likelihood, be in one of three places: what you need to do, what the putter needs to do, or what the ball needs to do. Which category do you fall into? 

Standing over a putt, the vast majority of golfers tend to place a disproportionate amount of attention on themselves and the putter, with little or no regard for what the ball needs to do.

Ultimately we want to get the ball in the hole, not you or your putter, so it would make sense to pay more attention to what the ball needs to do.

When faced with any or indeed every putt, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Is it possible I could hole this putt? Answer – yes.
  • What does the ball need to do to go in the hole? Answer – travel on the right line at the appropriate pace for that line.
  • What does a good putt look like? Answer – one that goes in the hole.

The last question and answer may sound ridiculously obvious but the reality is that golfers often miss them out because they are paying too much attention to how they are going to move their body and/or their putter.

We create what we see, so unless you have a very clear intention or picture of what you want the ball to do, you may well struggle to complete the task successfully.

The introduction of the “putt predictor” graphic, we occasionally see during TV broadcasts, is a fantastic visual aid as it essentially creates a road map for our golf ball. Just imagine how helpful it would be if you could project that image onto the green before every putt you hit!

While technology isn’t quite at the stage where we can do this at your local club on a Sunday morning, you can use your imagination to create a similar image.

Visualisation is a human skill we can all learn, develop and apply in our golf games and one that players at the very highest level use to great effect. It is so important that we dedicated an entire chapter to it in our best-selling book “The Lost Art of Putting”.

To find out more, visit thelostartofgolf.com to order a copy of the book, or download the accompanying video. 

Winter Putting Training: Part 3

What is your vision for 2021?

Do you have targets and goals? Are they realistic and achievable?

All too often, I hear golfers of all levels setting targets and goals for the coming season. They generally relate to a reduction in handicap, winning the club championship, representing their county or country, or winning professional tournaments.

While I am a great believer in setting targets and achieving goals, there is always the danger that they can turn into expectations. Yes, we feel great when we reach these long term goals but be careful not to confuse goals with expectations.

Motivation and expectation are very different animals. Motivation gives you a reason to work towards something, a sense of purpose. Expectation can lead to a sense of entitlement. 

In golf, don’t think that because you put some hard work in, you are entitled to some kind of reward. Working hard will help to a degree but working smart is where you can really make a difference.

Rather than hoping or dreaming about reducing your handicap by however many shots, or winning a Major Championship, why not make your goal to simply become a better golfer today than you were last year, last month or even last week?

As my good friend and co-author of our best-selling books – ‘The Lost Art of Putting’ and ‘The Lost Art of Playing Golf’ – frequently says, the road to improvement consists of an accumulation of good days.

If you can keep putting in good days, at some point, the accumulation of these good days will start to bear fruit, sometimes when you least expect it.

Before you can even start to embark on your journey of improvement and hopefully enjoyment as a by-product, you need to have a very clear picture of where you are right now.

Take time to reflect on 2020 before you dive straight in to 2021. Which aspects of your game have room for improvement? I can almost hear some answers from here – “I need to hit my driver further” will probably be pretty high up the list. “I just want to be more consistent” is more than likely to be number one. Oh dear, the “C” word – golf’s holy grail apparently. Let me save you a lot of grief. Don’t go searching for consistency. It does not exist in the long term.

Even the very best players in the world do not and cannot achieve long term consistency, so do yourself a favour and stop chasing it.

Your goal should be to improve your play and your enjoyment and the fastest route to both is to hole more putts.

Think about the last few rounds you played in 2020 and look at your putting statistics. If you don’t know how many putts you are taking in any given round of golf, how can you measure improvement?

You need a baseline, a starting point. Only when you know where you are can you realistically set out a plan of where you would like to be and how you are going to get there.

Would taking one or two less putts every time you play make a difference to your scores and your enjoyment? Is it possible you could realistically achieve that? Absolutely! Over and above that, it will be a whole lot easier to achieve than adding the 15 – 20 yards onto your drives on a regular basis.

How you go about reducing the number of putts you take is entirely up to you. You might want to invest in visiting a putting coach to set out a plan going forwards or you may feel that a new putter is required.

I may be somewhat biased here but based on the feedback we receive from students and golfers around the world who have read ‘The Lost Art Of Putting’, learning, understanding and applying the Putting Performance Principles within the book and the digital video download would be a great place to start.

All the best for the coming season and I look forward to hearing about YOUR success stories. Expect nothing, deal with everything and who knows, you might just reach your targets and achieve your goals.

Gary Nicol

Triple Track Tuesdays: Distance Control

Gary Nicol has teamed up with National Club Golfer, Callaway and Odyssey’s Triple Track ball and putter technology to create a special series of putting videos.

Using techniques from The Lost Art books, co-author Gary Nicol will help you look at putting in a new way. These videos are guaranteed to give all variety of golfers a whole new perspective on the greens.

All of our videos were filmed at Archerfield Links in Gullane.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lost-Art-Masterclass-2048x689-1-1030x347.jpg

Gary Nicol’s Winter Putting Training: Part 2

As the season, year and indeed the decade draws to a close, now is the perfect time to sit down and reflect on your golf game.

Grab a notepad and pen and write down a few questions.

The first and perhaps most important question could or perhaps should be: “Why do I play golf?”

Take a few minutes to contemplate that and avoid the impulse to write down the first thing that springs to mind. You may have one or two reasons, you may have five or six. Whatever they are, write them down and stay true to them in the future.

Other questions might include some of the following:

“Do I enjoy playing golf?”

“Does golf satisfy me?”

“Can I hit the shots I want or need to on the golf course?”

“Do I understand the questions the golf course architect or designer is asking me on any given hole?”

“Is it possible I could hole more putts?”

That last question is one of my favourites and one I strongly recommend everyone who plays golf should ask themselves.

Is it possible? Unless you average 18 putts a round every time you play, the answer absolutely has to be a resounding yes!

That being the case, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to buy a new putter because your existing one “doesn’t work”? That may or may not be the answer but regardless how much you spend on a new putter, there are no guarantees. It will not get the ball in the hole on its own.

Ultimately you need to learn how to use it. You need to learn how to get the ball in the hole from a variety of distances and a variety of positions, not only on the practice putting green but also on the golf course.

Like many golfers I know, you may have a garage or cupboard full of training aids and gadgets, which may or may not be helpful but you have to ask yourself if they work. Think about all the times you may have used them on the putting green. You might have holed five or six nasty little four foot putts on the putting green using your training aid but did that translate to similar results in competitions or even in bounce games? Only you will know the answer to that particular question.

With more than thirty years of experience coaching golfers of all standards from beginners to Tour Pros, I would suggest that the majority of these training aids spend most of their time gathering dust in the garage or cupboard for a reason. I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

If you really want to experience more success and enjoyment on the greens every time you practice or play, I suggest you do all or at least some of the following:

Speak to a golf coach you can believe in and trust. Someone you know has helped others. Someone you can embark on a journey of discovery and improvement with.

Spend some time on the putting green with exactly what you are allowed to take on the course – a putter and a ball. Not two, three or four balls, just one. There are no second serves when it comes to putting.

Learn the art of getting the ball into the hole when it matters. The only way you can do this is by playing golf on the course. Nothing will ever come close to replicating this skill on the practice putting green. Context is everything.

Standing over each and every putt, ask yourself two questions:

1) Is it possible I could hole this putt? 

2) What does the ball need to do to go in the hole? 

I’m not going to spoil it for you but what I will say is that these two questions could transform your future putting experiences.

As one year runs out of days, another exciting one awaits.

Is it possible that 2021 could provide you with opportunities to hole more putts, shoot lower scores and have more fun on the course? Absolutely!

To kick-start your journey of discovery, improvement and enjoyment, treat yourself to a copy of The Lost Art Of Putting. Judging by the feedback we continue to receive from golfers of all standards all around the world, it might just be the smartest investment you could make.

Happy New Year and best wishes for the future.

Did you miss part 1 of Gary’s Winter Putting Training? Click here to read.

Triple Track Tuesday’s: How to determine the right pace

Gary Nicol has teamed up with National Club Golfer, Callaway and Odyssey’s Triple Track ball and putter technology to create a special series of putting videos.

Using techniques from The Lost Art books, co-author Gary Nicol will help you look at putting in a new way. These videos are guaranteed to give all variety of golfers a whole new perspective on the greens.

All of our videos were filmed at Archerfield Links in Gullane.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lost-Art-Masterclass-2048x689-1-1030x347.jpg

Gary Nicol’s winter putting training: Part 1

While the best of the weather for 2020 may be behind us, that doesn’t mean you need to put your clubs away until the sun reappears and the mercury rises again.

Yes it may be a bit damp, cold and occasionally miserable at times but that should not deter you from your quest to improve. Hitting balls on the range in 5 layers of clothing might not be everyone or anyone’s idea of fun, me included.

However, we can all find 20 or 30 minutes every week, regardless of the weather to head for the putting green to work on our putting skills.

Admittedly the putting green at your local club might not be running as fast and true as it does during the summer months but don’t let that put you off. You can still make great progress if you train certain aspects of your putting, regardless of the weather and green conditions.

When thinking about improving their putting, most golfers would tend to get out their putting mirrors, chalk lines, putting gates and strings and focus on their techniques or strokes.

Essentially they are working on their putting strokes, not their putting skills.

Good putting is not only about having a good stroke. You can have the best stroke in the world but if you don’t hit your ball on the right line at the right pace, you will not hole many or any putts.

Spend some time ideally with the help of a good coach who understands the importance of the skill of reading greens, enabling you to predict and control what you want the ball to do. Visualise the ball falling into the hole at the appropriate pace for that putt. Train what you will inevitably face on the golf course, putts of different lengths from a variety of places on the green and with different breaks. Left to right, right to left, uphill, downhill, long and short, the whole spectrum.

Take what you are allowed to take on the course, your putter and a golf ball. Not two, not three but one ball.

Why one ball? Quite simply because you don’t get a second or third chance on the course, so why practice or train with two or three? Each and every putt you hit is unique and should be treated accordingly.

If you want to discover some fun and interesting training exercises to make you a happier and more competent putter, pick up a copy The Lost Art Of Putting, or watch the digital download, designed to be viewed whenever and wherever you want. Both are available on our website.

Is it possible, next year could be your best year ever on the greens? Absolutely!

Work smart over the winter months and you will start the 2021 season better prepared than ever before.

Gary Nicol, co-author with Karl Morris of best selling books The Lost Art Of Putting and The Lost Art Of Playing Golf.

Triple Track Tuesday’s: Semi-circle drill

Gary Nicol has teamed up with National Club Golfer, Callaway and Odyssey’s Triple Track ball and putter technology to create a special series of putting videos.

Using techniques from The Lost Art books, co-author Gary Nicol will help you look at putting in a new way. These videos are guaranteed to give all variety of golfers a whole new perspective on the greens.

All of our videos were filmed at Archerfield Links in Gullane.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lost-Art-Masterclass-2048x689-1-1030x347.jpg

Triple Track Tuesday’s: One ball putting drill

Gary Nicol has teamed up with National Club Golfer, Callaway and Odyssey’s Triple Track ball and putter technology to create a special series of putting videos.

Using techniques from The Lost Art books, co-author Gary Nicol will help you look at putting in a new way. These videos are guaranteed to give all variety of golfers a whole new perspective on the greens.

All of our videos were filmed at Archerfield Links in Gullane.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lost-Art-Masterclass-2048x689-1-1030x347.jpg

Triple Track Tuesday’s: Length over line – Part 2

Gary Nicol has teamed up with National Club Golfer, Callaway and Odyssey’s Triple Track ball and putter technology to create a special series of putting videos.

Using techniques from The Lost Art books, co-author Gary Nicol will help you look at putting in a new way. These videos are guaranteed to give all variety of golfers a whole new perspective on the greens.

All of our videos were filmed at Archerfield Links in Gullane.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lost-Art-Masterclass-2048x689-1-1030x347.jpg

Triple Track Tuesday’s: Length Over Line

Gary Nicol has teamed up with National Club Golfer, Callaway and Odyssey’s Triple Track ball and putter technology to create a special series of putting videos.

Using techniques from The Lost Art books, co-author Gary Nicol will help you look at putting in a new way. These videos are guaranteed to give all variety of golfers a whole new perspective on the greens.

All of our videos were filmed at Archerfield Links in Gullane.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lost-Art-Masterclass-2048x689-1-1030x347.jpg