I think we've all seen this Tiger Woods before. Dominant. In control. Confident. Runaway winner.
This weekend of golf was enjoyable, but it wasn't really dramatic. After Tiger's 61 (and flirting with a 59) on Friday, most of the fans, the media and even the other players knew this one was pretty much wrapped up. But here's something you may not have known: Tiger's 61 wasn't due to great ball-striking. Would it surprise to know he only hit 9 of 14 fairways and only 13 of 18 greens in regulation?
No, his score and his win came because Woods made every putt he looked at - especially the ones of consequence. On Friday, Woods took only 22 putts over the course of 18 holes. I'll repeat that: 22 putts over 18 holes! That included a 23-footer for par on No. 6 and a 26-footer for par on No. 18. A bogey or two in the round could have disrupted his momentum and belief that he'd make everything. Instead, these made putts reinforced his confidence. You saw the result. Wow.
This week's "A Lesson Learned" is quite simple - Work on your putting! You hear it all the time, you probably understand it's true, but I bet you're still one of those who pull out the driver every chance you get in your practice time and whale away with the big stick. I get it, it's fun. But that's not going to be the club that changes your score for the better. Not like being a better putter would do it.
I like to recommend a very simple drill to my students to make them better putters. I put them on the practice green and ask them to putt cross-handed.
For a right-handed golfer, have your left hand lower on the grip than your right hand, the left hand will guide the stroke while the right hand is only there to provide stability. Doing so will give you a much better feel for the role of the hands, arms and shoulders during the putting stroke. Spend 15-20 minutes with this technique, you'll be a better putter I promise.
Some of my students like this so much, they adopt this form for their regular rounds. But even those that do not understand the value of spending time on the green doing everything they can to develop a more consistent, repeatable and fundamentally sound putting stroke. This will help do that.
Tiger Woods has so much talent in every facet of golf - but he's not the world's No. 1 player because he's the best driver of the golf ball. When he dominates, it's because he's untouchable on the greens. You'll play your best golf when you perform the best with the putter as well.
Frank Sneed is a PGA professional at St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek, GA. Sneed provides private and group instruction for players of all levels. You can follow him on Twitter@sneedpgaor email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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