If you can repeat a good or bad behavior for three straight rounds, I believe you can classify that as a trend and not a one-off occurrence. Today I completed my third straight round without a three-putt and while I didn’t do anything spectactular, my scoring was stable and I carded a solid 5-over par 76 at Poolesville. Earlier in the year, I was fighting a mind-blowing slump where I failed to break 80 for 10 straight rounds. The slump was characterized by wild swings in momentum and periods of horridly inconsistent play. I’ve noticed my play of late has been very even keel and I believe a couple changes with the putter are primarily responsible. Specifically:
I start my pre-round warm-up on the greens by using the Butch Harmon two-tee drill that Tiger Woods has made popular. Sure, he didn’t win at the PGA Championship, but Tiger is still the best player in the world, and I started to copy his pre-round putting routine as I observed him warming up at Oak Hill. Tiger sets two tees barely wider than the length of his putter head apart, and about 3 feet from the hole on a flat area on the practice green. He strokes about one dozen putts with just his right hand, then switches to both hands for another 10-15 balls, each time making a smooth stroke and ensuring the putter head is moving low and on-line. For some reason, this has helped me immensely because I don’t blade putts anymore (my frequent miss). I also don’t do the right hand only portion of the drill, as I have found it too difficult.
Second, I’ve slightly altered my pre-shot routine to give me more feel on distance putts. I always struggled with how to aim breaking putts, and previously putted at a spot to the side of the hole. If I had a putt that broke two cups to the right, I’d aim and stay sighted on the point two cups to the left. Now, I step up to the ball and look at nothing but the hole while taking a couple of practice strokes. For some reason, I can feel the distance much better looking at the hole and not a spot equidistant from the cup. I will quickly sight my putter to the amount of break that I’d like to start the putt on, but quickly allow my eyes to return to the hole before pulling the trigger. Also, I found that once you decide on your line and speed, pull the trigger without delay to keep the power of the stroke fresh in your mind. The hole is your ultimate target. Set your sights on it and make a bunch. Good luck!