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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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Clement: Weight shift in the golf swing – How Ben Hogan did it

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Understanding how weight shifts in the golf swing is the difference between easy and strenuous power.

Ben Hogan developed his swing around both how to get to the target more consistently and his anatomy. Get the facts from Wisdom in Golf on how the human machine does its thing without having to micro-manage your body parts!

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Clement: This is the perfect right elbow move in the downswing

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When it comes to getting the right move of the right or trail elbow in the golf swing right in the downswing, Wisdom in Golf has you covered! See the proper sequence of events in the golf swing like Joaquin Niemann, Justin Thomas, and Jon Rahm!

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Clark: Beware of trying random swing suggestions!

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There is value in every instruction book; it just depends who is reading it- John Jacobs.

Every swing tip you read or see or listen to, very likely has merit.  Very few are wrong, and none are necessarily right.  There is value in every one and there is harm in every one.  Knowing which ones or which parts of them are relevant can be your key to a more effective golf swing.

Let’s take an  example.  “Shallowing out” your transition, or flattening your down swing plane is great advice.  Why? Because the vast majority of golfers are far too steep in transition (golf club pointed at the ground starting the downswing).  But let’s say you happen to be in the minority; let’s say you are too flat, or “under the plane” coming down down.  Being unaware of your current swing position, if you were to employ the tip that advised “flattening”, you are, in all likelihood now, too flat and you may well hit a foot behind the golf ball.

Another piece of advice we see quite often is “be sure to get sufficient width” in your swing in order to create more power.  I have seen this tip misunderstood all to often.  Let’s say your swing is already too wide; you are pushing the golf club well away from your body and excessively shifting your center to your rear foot in order to create the coveted “width”.  If you are not aware of your current move, and you ADD width, you are now likely so far off the golf ball, you have little to no chance to get back to it. Without ample swing lag and a very late hit, you might strike the ground well behind the ball or miss it altogether.

More…Pronate, supinate, release the club…many have come to me with excessive hand action (often far too early) and almost always at the cost of using too little body motion.  What if you are “handsy” right now and someone suggested this action.  Well…you guessed it.  You won’t even get the ball airborne, and you can yell “fore left” upon impact.

I am using these examples (among many) to make a point:  as a teacher I totally agree that these examples can be quite effective for some.  They can also be quite disastrous for others! Whether it be a change in tempo, path, plane, weight distribution or whatever-all these things need to be executed cautiously with the context of your own golf swing.

What to do?  You can make any change you think will help, just be sure you get the big picture. You may consider a thorough video and/or trackman analysis to get an idea what your swing is doing right now, what your individual tendencies are and decide if certain suggestions are in the right context.  The key to real improvement lies in knowing (in detail) your habits, and knowing how the entire motion works as one whole dynamic.  

There is no one grip, but there is a grip for everyone.  There is no one ball position but there is a ball position for everyone.  There is no one posture, or alignment, or backswing or downswing for everyone, but there is one position which fits your swing, your plane, etc.  The great Ben Hogan reminded all of us “the secret is on the dirt”. His advice was quite clear-break the code, find your own best way, the way that works-to do that you need to know where you are right now. After all is said and done the only thing that matters is impact!  The club face, the angle of attack, the true path of the swing and center of face contact are the only things to which the golf ball responds.  We all must find our own way of getting there.

Golf is the greatest game in the world with so many wonderful folks.  Unfortunately it is also the only game with more teachers than players.  Advice is all around; the internet, the magazines, the Golf Channel, your buddies, husband, wife…every one of them means well and, as I’ve said, are likely helpful.  However, great harm can be done if you are not discerning enough to know helpful vs. hurtful.

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