If you don’t go through the same pre-putt routine on each and every green, you’re missing a key ingredient that all good putters share. If you do utilize a standard routine before each putt but still struggle with consistency, perhaps a change of approach is in order.
Two-time PGA champion and 1991 Ryder Cup captain Dave Stockton has become the go-to guru for Tour players searching for answers on the greens. While he teaches golfers to keep the putter head low with the back of the lead hand moving toward the target, Stockton is best known for devising a pre-putt sequence that deviates from the norm.
Essentially, Stockton believes in feel over mechanics, and that intuition trumps technique. He developed a method emphasizing visualization rather than analysis, designed to create a positive mindset before the player pulls back the blade.
Here are the basic steps in Stockton’s pre-putt routine:
- Make your initial read from the low side of the putt’s line, between the ball and the hole.
- Crouch behind the ball for your second read, getting as close to the green as you can to gauge the line between ball and cup.
- Picture the entire length of the putt – coming off the face, breaking, and dropping into the hole. Specifically, imagine the ball toppling over an exact spot on the rim of the cup.
- Approach the ball holding the putter in your left hand (right hand if you’re a lefty), and swish your right hand as if rolling a ball to the hole. This action will instill a sense of the putt’s speed.
- Do not – repeat, DO NOT – make a practice stroke.
- Set up to the ball by putting your right foot in place, then aligning your body with the left foot. If you need to adjust, move only the left foot.
- Once comfortably over the ball, look once at the hole, “watching” the ball roll all the way into the cup.
- Look back to the ball and stroke it within 2-3 seconds.
If you suffer from over-thinking or psyching yourself out prior to putting, give Stockton’s method a try. It’s certainly proved effective for pros like Rory McIlroy.