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3 drills that will build a great putting stroke

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When you find yourself scratching your head because of all the putts you’re missing, take the time to hit the practice green and work out the kinks. All players go through slumps and face times when their stroke needs touching up, these three drills will go a long way in helping to reestablish a solid putting motion.

1. 4 Tee Drill

This drill is great for focusing on center contact as well as helping to maintain a square putter face through impact.

Most players will associate this drill with the two tees that many players on tour use for solid contact. But what makes this drill different is that by having two sets of tees, it forces us to have a good takeaway, as well as a good, follow through. Just have the two sets spaced 3 to 5 inches apart with the openings of the two sets being slightly wider than your putter. From there, any unwanted lateral movement with your putting stroke will be met by a tee.

2. Coin Drill

This drill pertains to those who tend to look up before hitting a putt which throws off our follow through and makes us manipulate the head. We do this for different reasons, though none of them are justifiable. Because those that keep their head down through the stroke will allow you to have better speed, control and just make a better stroke in general.

To perform this drill, just place the ball on top of the coin and make your stroke. Focusing on seeing the coin after you hit your putt before looking up.

3. Maintain the Triangle drill

One of the biggest things that I see in high handicap golfers or just bad putters, in general, is that they either don’t achieve an upside-down triangle from their shoulders, down the arms, and into the hands as pictured above. If they do, it often breaks down in their stroke. Either way, both result in an inconsistent strike and stroke motion. It also makes it harder to judge speed and makes it easier to manipulate the face which affects your ability to get the ball started online.

I use a plastic brace in the photo to hold my triangle, however, you can use a ball or balloon to place in between the forearms to achieve the same thing.

These three drills will help you establish proper muscle memory and promote strong techniques to help you roll the rock!

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Todd is an assistant golf professional in Knoxville, Tennessee. As an ex-division 1 golfer at Tennessee State University, he uses his skills and knowledge to grow the game through giving lessons and his writing. He is the sole owner of The Daily Golfer, a website that covers news, instruction, and product reviews for everything in the world of golf.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. RBImGuy

    Mar 25, 2019 at 2:05 am

    The above is too difficult and requires drills to even make workable

  2. P

    Mar 17, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    I think these modern methods of putting makes you all too mechanical and removes any sense of feel and touch out of the stroke, is why so many new players coming into the game get all confused and flustered because they feel frozen in place and too robotic.
    We all need to go back to the old school style of Jack and Arnie and get really low and hunched over the ball so that you are as close to the putting surface as you can be, and flick the putter with the wrists to get a better sense of the pendulum in the hands

    • Science, Bitches

      Mar 18, 2019 at 4:49 am

      Outside of being completely disproven, sure, let’s do that.

      • P

        Mar 19, 2019 at 3:11 am

        Disproven by Jack’s 18 majors 73 Tour victories, Arnie with 7 Majors and 62 Tour victories, and countless other close calls and foreign and senior wins. Now that’s all skill science.

    • GA

      Mar 18, 2019 at 9:40 am

      Agreed. I tried to be a more mechanical and it ruined me for a long time.

      Two things have helped me: Once I’m ready, I take a breath and exhale as I start the stroke, as if I’m pulling the trigger on a gun. And I have laser focus on the golf ball. I don’t look at the putter at all and focus on the ball from the start of the stroke until it stops rolling.

      • Prime21

        Mar 18, 2019 at 12:36 pm

        F.Y.I. It doesn’t have to be a cognizant choice as to which direction you go, both mechanics & feel can BOTH be achieved. I think the instructor makes some good points on developing sound mechanics. Personally, I think that without strong mechanics it is difficult to build a repeatable stroke based on feel, so striving to achieve both is essential for continued success with the flatstick.

        • P

          Mar 19, 2019 at 3:15 am

          As long as you know how to square the putter and get the ball rolling in the direction you want and with the speed you want, none of the above is necessary, proven by Jack and Arnie’s styles. Ben Hogan, as great a ball striker as he was, was notoriously bad at putting because he tried to be too mechanical like his main swing – had he been able to putt more with feel, he would have won twice as many. TW says it’s all in his right hand with the thumb on top controlling the whole thing. That’s all feel

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Instruction

Tip of the week: Let the left heel lift for a bigger turn to the top

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In this week’s tip, Tom Stickney gives a suggestion that would make Brandel Chamblee proud: lift the left heel on the backswing for a bigger turn.

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How I train tour players

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There is a lot of speculation about how tour pros train, and with tantalizing snippets of gym sessions being shared on social media, it’s tempting to draw large conclusions from small amounts of insight. One thing I can tell you from my time on tour is that there isn’t just one way that golfers should train, far from it. I’ve seen many different approaches work for many different pros, a strong indicator is the wide variety of body shapes we see at the top level of the game. Take for example Brooks Koepka, Mark Leishman, Ricker Fowler, and Patrick Reed. Put these four players through a physical testing protocol and the results would be extremely varied, and yet, over 18 holes of golf there is just 0.79 shots difference between first and last.

This example serves to highlight the importance of a customized approach to training. Sometimes common sense training programs backed by scientific evidence simply don’t work for an individual. One of the athletes I work with, Cameron Smith, over the course of a season recorded his slowest club-head speed when he was strongest and heaviest (muscle mass) and fastest club-head speed when he was lightest and weakest. That lead me to seriously question the widely accepted concept of stronger = more powerful and instead search for a smarter and more customized methodology. I’ll continue to use Cam and his training as an example throughout this article.

Cam working on his rotational speed (push band on his arm)

What I’m going to outline below is my current method of training tour pros, it’s a fluid process that has changed a lot over the years and will hopefully continue to morph into something more efficient and customized as time goes on.

Assessment

I have poached and adapted aspects from various different testing methods including TPI, GravityFit, Ramsay McMaster, Scott Williams and Train With Push. The result is a 5-stage process that aims to identify areas for improvement that can be easily compared to measure progress.

Subjective – This is a simple set of questions that sets the parameters for the upcoming training program. Information on training and injury history, time available for training, access to facilities and goal setting all help to inform the structure of the training program design that will fit in with the individual’s life.

Postural – I take photos in standing and golf set up from in-front, behind and both sides. I’m simply trying to establish postural tendencies that can be identified by alignment of major joints. For example a straight line between the ear, shoulder, hip and ankle is considered ideal.

Muskulo Skeletal – This is a series of very simple range of motion and localized stability tests for the major joints and spinal segments. These tests help explain movement patterns demonstrated in the gym and the golf swing. For example ankle restrictions make it very difficult to squat effectively, whilst scapula (shoulder blade) instability can help explain poor shoulder and arm control in the golf swing.

Stability and Balance – I use a protocol developed by GravityFit called the Core Body Benchmark. It measures the player’s ability to hold good posture, balance and stability through a series of increasingly complex movements.

Basic Strength and Power – I measure strength relative to bodyweight in a squat, push, pull and core brace/hold. I also measure power in a vertical leap and rotation movement.

At the age of 16, Cam Smith initially tested poorly in many of these areas; he was a skinny weak kid with posture and mobility issues that needed addressing to help him to continue playing amateur golf around the world without increasing his risk of injury.

An example scoring profile

Report

From these 5 areas of assessment I write a report detailing the areas for improvement and set specific and measurable short terms goals. I generally share this report with the player’s other team members (coach, manager, caddie etc).

Training Program

Next step is putting together the training program. For this I actually designed and built (with the help of a developer) my own app. I use ‘Golf Fit Pro’ to write programs that are generally split into 3 or 4 strength sessions per week with additional mobility and posture work. The actual distribution of exercises, sets, reps and load (weights) can vary a lot, but generally follows this structure:

Warm Up – foam roll / spiky ball, short cardio, 5 or 6 movements that help warm up the major joints and muscles

Stability / Function – 2 or 3 exercises that activate key stability/postural muscles around the hips and shoulders.

Strength / Power – 4 or 5 exercises designed to elicit a strength or power adaptation whilst challenging the ability to hold posture and balance.

Core – 1 or 2 exercises that specifically strengthen the core

Mobility – 5-10 stretches, often a mixture of static and dynamic

An example of the Golf Fit Pro app

Cam Smith has followed this structure for the entire time we have been working together. His choice would be to skip the warm-up and stability sections, instead jumping straight into the power and strength work, which he considers to be “the fun part.” However, Cam also recognizes the importance of warming up properly and doing to his stability drills to reduce the risk of injury and make sure his spine, hips and shoulders are in good posture and moving well under the load-bearing strength work.

Training Sessions

My approach to supervising training sessions is to stick to the prescribed program and focus attention firstly on perfecting technique and secondly driving intent. What I mean by this is making sure that every rep is done with great focus and determination. I often use an accelerometer that tracks velocity (speed) to measure the quality and intent of a rep and provide immediate feedback and accountability to the individual.

Cam especially enjoys using the accelerometer to get real-time feedback on how high he is jumping or fast he is squatting. He thrives on competing with both himself and others in his gym work, pretty typical of an elite athlete!

Maintenance

The physical, mental and emotional demands of a tournament week make it tricky to continue to train with the same volume and intensity as usual. I will often prescribe a watered down version of the usual program, reducing reps and sets whilst still focusing on great technique. Soreness and fatigue are the last thing players want to deal with whilst trying to perform at their best. It’s quite the balancing act to try and maintain fitness levels whilst not getting in the way of performance. My experience is that each player is quite different and the process has to be fluid and adaptable in order to get the balance right from week to week.

Equipment

Aside from the usual gym equipment, resistance bands, and self massage tools, the following are my favourite bits of kit:

GravityFit – Absolutely the best equipment available for training posture, stability and movement quality. The immediate feedback system means I can say less, watch more and see players improve their technique and posture faster.

Push Band – This wearable accelerometer has really transformed the way I write programs, set loads and measure progression. It’s allowed the whole process to become more fluid and reactive, improved quality of training sessions and made it more fun for the players. It also allows me to remotely view what has happened in a training session, down to the exact speed of each rep, as demonstrated in the image below.

Details from one of Cam’s recent training sessions

Examples

Below are some of the PGA Tour players that I have worked with and the key areas identified for each individual, based of the process outlined above:

Cam Smith – Improving posture in head/neck/shoulders, maintenance of mobility throughout the body, increasing power output into the floor (vertical force) and rotational speed.

Jonas Blixt – Core stability, hip mobility and postural endurance in order to keep lower back healthy (site of previous injury). Overall strength and muscle growth.

Harris English – Improving posture in spine, including head/neck. Scapula control and stability, improving hip and ankle mobility. Overall strength and muscle growth.

Recommendations

My advice if you want to get your fitness regime right, is to see a professional for an assessment and personalized program, then work hard at it whilst listening to your body and measuring results. I’m sure this advice won’t rock your world, but from all that I’ve seen and done on tour, it’s by far the best recommendation I can give you.

If you are a golfer interested in using a structured approach to your golf fitness, then you can check out my online services here.

If you are a fitness professional working with golfers, and would like to ask questions about my methods, please send an email to nick@golffitpro.net

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Me and My Golf: Top 5 putting grips

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In this week’s Impact Show, we take a look at our top 5 putting grips. We discuss which grips we prefer, and which putting grips can suit you and why.

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