Putting Problems? Try Moving the Hole!

Kim Anders
PGA Professional
Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, AZ
jkanders4@gmail.com

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How many times have you had a downhill putt you knew was very fast and you only hit your first putt about 1/2 way to the hole? Or, you’re faced with an uphill putt and you end up blowing it way past the hole, leaving you with a tricky little four footer downhill?

This happens because you are allowing your brain to dictate how you stroke the ball. Unfortunately, as remarkable as the brain is, it doesn’t know how to putt a golf ball!! Here’s how the brain works. The brain sees all putts as though they are flat, at least until the last moment, when it’s too late.

Your brain knows the ball is 14 feet 6-1/2 inches from the hole. You set up to the ball and pull the trigger. The brain and body take over, which is just what you want.  You are allowing your body to do what you have trained it to do. “… A long smooth stroke, keep the putter moving through the ball towards the hole….”  You draw the putter back to hit the ball exactly 14 feet 6-1/2 inches and then it happens! Your brain finally kicks in and says, “Wait – this is REALLY FAST so hit it easy!!”  You do your best to slow the putter down so you don’t blow it way past the hole. You know the feeling, it’s like driving your car with one foot pressing on the accelerator and the other foot pressing on the break.

Or, in the case of an uphill putt your brain says, “Wait a minute. This is going to be slow so hit it hard.” How can you hit it harder when you only took the club back far enough to move the ball 14 feet 6-1/2 inches in the first place? Here’s how. You jab it up the hill to compensate for not taking the club back far enough and finish about 4 feet past the hole. Now you have a slick putt and a bad attitude….you start thinking about a four-putt in your future!

The next time you are on the practice green, try this.  Find a spot that would be a fast downhill putt and play a couple of balls to this hole. Do you feel yourself “putting on the brakes” so you don’t hit it too far?  Next, pick a spot that is 1/2 or 1/4 of the way to the hole.  This is the target I want you to putt to. You may have a 10 foot putt but you mentally move the hole to a point just 2 feet away. This way you take the putter back to hit the ball 2 feet. You put a good 2 foot stroke on the ball and allow the slope of the hill to take the ball the extra 8 feet to the hole.

Don’t change your stroke to compensate for the slopes you’ll encounter on the greens. Keep the same stroke and just move the hole…so your brain works for you, not against you. A little practice moving the hole around can pay off big time on the scorecard!

Merry Christmas and here’s to good golf in 2012!!

Kim Anders is Director of Golf at Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at Kanders@estrelladelmar.com or call 1.888.587.0609, Ext. 3010. Find out more about the golf resort by visiting www.estrelladelmar.com.