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 to order a copy of the book, or download the accompanying video.