Many of my pupils complain about an inability to judge distance and as a result find themselves unable to lag the ball close with medium and long distance putts during a round of golf.
My first question to them is often to ask them what they are focusing on as they hit the putt. This often takes them by surprise as they are expecting me to give them some piece of technical information to explain why their stroke is breaking down.
The answers to my question are usually along the lines of ‘I’m trying to keep my head still’ or ‘ I’m trying to hit with a firm left wrist’. I will then hand the player a ball and after taking a few steps backwards ask them to throw the ball into my hand. A task which most people perform easily and with great accuracy. I then repeat my question about what they are focusing on as they throw the ball and this time the answer is always the same. ‘Your hand’ is the reply, usually accompanied by a smile as they start to realise where they have been going wrong.
Tiger Woods calls it ‘putting to the picture’ and credits his dad for teaching him the skill when he was a small boy. The more your attention becomes absorbed in the target then the more you will judge distance in a natural more instinctive way using skills we have been learning since childhood. In much the same way you do when you throw a ball to a target.
As well as being a much more accurate way to judge distance it is also a much more pleasurable way to putt. The player tends to think less and the mind becomes quiet as you become absorbed in focusing on the hole.
So the next time you leave a putt miles short or hit it way past, don’t always react by blaming your putting stroke. It may have been your mind that was at fault and caused you to 3 putt.