Putt to the Picture

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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Putting accounts for nearly 40% of your score.  The easiest and quickest way to play better is to eliminate those unwanted three putts. The main ingredients that lead to good putting are green reading, aim and speed. There is no question that speed control is the most difficult for all golfers to manage on a consistent basis. Golf is one of the few sports that we aren’t actually looking at the target when hitting. This is the primary reason why distance control is so elusive on the putting green.  

I remember Tiger Woods saying during the 1997 Masters, in which he won by an amazing 12 shots and avoided three putting for the entire tournament, that he simply would “putt to a picture.” Tiger was able to retain the image of the hole in his mind while looking down at the ball.  Some golfers are good visualizes and some aren’t. If you feel like retaining the image of the hole is difficult then try the following and I am confident you will possess better distance control.

Look at the hole while you putt –  the epitome of being instinctive is to literally look at the hole while you putt. Jordan Spieth has made this concept more main stream as he will look at the hole while he putts from short distances. This will make you more aware of the target and allow you to be more instinctive. The result will be better distance control.

Close your eyes when you putt – There have been professionals that have actually closed their eyes while putting in tournaments. It is amazing how this “quiets” the mind so that you can focus more on hitting the putt to the hole without excessive technical thought. Often times you will be able to retain the image of the hole more efficiently with your eyes closed.

How many three putts did you have during the last round of golf? Take all of those away and what is the new score? That should be the reality and when you learn to manage distance more efficiently the result will be lower scores.

John Stahlschmidt, PGA is the Director of Instruction at the JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale AZ. To comment or to book a lesson, email John at john-j1@msn.com or visit his website at jjsgolf.org.