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A routine to copy: Patrick Reed’s 9-second putting routine at The Masters

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A solid pre-shot routine helps maintain consistency and ward off the negative effects of pressure, yet it is very much an overlooked skill by most amateur golfers. In that vein, I was struck this weekend by Patrick Reed’s solid putting routine. Further, I believe that this precise routine, and the discipline with which he stuck to it, were the difference in his one stroke victory at the Masters.

I had happened to pick Patrick Reed in a Master’s pool, so I was delighted to see him featured in the TV coverage. Putting is typically 40 percent of the game, but it takes on a far greater importance at Augusta. Further, the significance of each putt and the pressure escalates with each round to a painful (to watch, and perform) struggle down the stretch in the final round.

I was impressed by Patrick’s putting routine in the first round and curious to see if he would be able to stick with it if under the gun. It was not that unusual of a routine, but it was identical and fairly quick  — 9 seconds from the first step toward the ball until striking the putt. My perspective on the speed is based upon players that I have studied in their major wins. Here are just two examples:

  • Phil Mickelson 2004 Masters: 17 seconds
  • Lucas Glover 2009 U.S. Open: 16 seconds

Reed’s routine

First, Patrick Reed uses a line on the ball to set his alignment. He reads the putt, and when satisfied, sets the ball and line accordingly before he finally picks up his ball marker.

  • He stands about 6 to 8 feet behind the ball, square to the intended line, facing the hole.
  • Makes two practice swings, with his shoulders, still facing the hole.
  • Steps forward, addresses the ball by placing the putter blade behind the ball
  • Sets up to the ball, a last glance at the hole, looks back to the ball and pulls the trigger.

I start timing the routine with the first step forward from behind the ball. If I were to include the time facing the hole and two practice swings, Patrick’s time would approach the two examples above.

Bottom line, I believe that Patrick’s strict adherence to his pre-shot putting routine enabled him to hole all of the meaningful putts in the final round that proved to be the ultimate one-stroke margin.

My suggestion? Have a friend or partner time your pre-shot routine. Once you have a routine that you like, practice it with every practice shot and putt. It may just carry you through the pressure spots in your events.

For more on Pre-Shot routine see my 2017 article: How solid is your Pre-Shot routine?  For a Complete Strokes Gained analysis of your game log on to www.shotbyshot.com.

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In 1989, Peter Sanders founded Golf Research Associates, LP, creating what is now referred to as Strokes Gained Analysis. His goal was to design and market a new standard of statistically based performance analysis programs using proprietary computer models. A departure from “traditional stats,” the program provided analysis with answers, supported by comparative data. In 2006, the company’s website, ShotByShot.com, was launched. It provides interactive, Strokes Gained analysis for individual golfers and more than 150 instructors and coaches that use the program to build and monitor their player groups. Peter has written, or contributed to, more than 60 articles in major golf publications including Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Golf for Women. From 2007 through 2013, Peter was an exclusive contributor and Professional Advisor to Golf Digest and GolfDigest.com. Peter also works with PGA Tour players and their coaches to interpret the often confusing ShotLink data. Zach Johnson has been a client for nearly five years. More recently, Peter has teamed up with Smylie Kaufman’s swing coach, Tony Ruggiero, to help guide Smylie’s fast-rising career.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. BD57

    Apr 10, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Interesting …. do you know whether Reed’s ever worked with Dave Stockton, because Stockton teaches taking any practice strokes behind the hole and then just stepping in, setting up and hitting the putt, which is what Reed’s doing.

    Stockton believes the longer you go from being behind the ball (when you’re ‘seeing” the line) and hitting the putt, the more likely you are to “lose” the line.

    I suspect we’ve all had the experience of looking at our line when we get over the ball, thinking it no longer “looks right,” and losing confidence in the line we’ve chosen.

  2. DrRob1963

    Apr 10, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Peter – a question:
    Have you looked at the putting routine of a multiple major winner to see if it stays constant, or varies, over the years. For instance, was Phil Mickelson’s putting routine the same in 2013 at The Open as it was with each of his US Masters wins? Nicklaus 1970 Open vs his 1986 US Masters?
    Regards, Rob

  3. Raidernut12345. "Russ"

    Apr 9, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    I’ve adopted a similar routine similar to Ricky fowler. Anything inside 15 feet no practice putt step in let go of the grip breathe exhale gently grip the putter and go. Has held up great under pressure!!

    • David

      Apr 9, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      Rickie is an amazingly good putter. Have seen him in person and played with him and can tell you that he just rolls it so, so cleanly and purely — virtually every time. It’s so cool to watch.

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Why most golfers aren’t improving as fast as they should

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Improvement happens when our current skillset is challenged to adapt and expand to a new level. So, in order to improve, we need to learn to embrace the challenges that will lead us down the path of improvement.

Unfortunately, most of us have learned to fear challenges. It makes sense. Challenges often led to failure, which can lead to humiliation and embarrassment. They can make you feel lousy. If we can get past our egos that are trying to protect us from failure, however, we can come to see that challenges are the only route to improvement. From there, we have a chance to enact real change and long-lasting improvement.

When you’re practicing golf, you need to look beyond the results or the awkwardness of learning a new technique or skillset. Coordination in the golf swing is everything, and sometimes the changes that are needed are not all that big. They may feel like enormous changes, though, because there is a difference between feel and real.

Golf is a game of improvement. In this video I share my thoughts on how you can get started in your process of improvement. Please enjoy, and feel free to interact with your comments and thoughts.

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