Yes, the mercury is falling once more and yesterday was chilly, wet and very windy so I reckon I may have played my last golf of the year on Saturday past. That doesn’t mean that I’ve put my clubs away – I was actually thinking of practising indoors over the next few weeks. Dungannon’s SkyTrak Studio is Mid Ulster’s best indoor practice facility and prices start at only £10 for one hour, so if you like to practise in comfort contact David Graham, Dungannon’s PGA Pro, on 075 1709 8987 for further information or to make a booking.
I thought I’d start on my putting in the comfort of my living room and I discovered some interesting drills by Phil Kenyon on the Today’s Golfer website. Phil is a master putting coach, with some very high profile professionals on his books, including Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson.
Phil Kenyon’s Drills To Help You Become A Better Putter
DRILL NO.1: PHIL’S FAVOURITE PUTTING DRILL
Phil claims that the most important thing is your ability to hit your start line. He often creates a drill relative to each player and the parameter of their stroke, which they can use to calibrate what they are doing on a daily basis. A lot of times it’s as simple as finding a straight putt and creating a gate, about 5cm wide, which they have to putt through. This highlights any tendencies and tells you if your read was any good. It’s the best kind of drill. You can use two tee pegs or buy ready-made gates that have different widths for different degrees of error.
Or you could use the set-up shown below. If your ball veers off the line, you’ve done something wrong!
DRILL NO.2: BUILD A BALANCED STROKE
To stop swinging short and accelerating so aggressively, try and groove your stroke so your swing length stays fairly equal. A simple way to do this is by using two tees or balls, and placing one a foot behind the ball, and the other a foot in front. The key is to keep the distance evenly spaced, and to focus on swinging your putter with an even rhythm. You’ll actually find it difficult to accelerate, and should see far greater consistency in your speed control.
As you progress, try and set up multiple stations for short, medium and long putts. Just make sure the spacing between the balls and/or tees is equal.
DRILL NO.3: PERCEPTION MUST MATCH REALITY
One misconception is that the eyes must be over the ball. But that’s not strictly true. It varies player to player, because what’s important is how you see straight or square. To find out, pace out a 10ft putt and then place a ruler underneath a ball so it points directly at the centre of the hole. As you take your address, note how your perception and where the ruler points changes as you alter your neck bend or adjust your distance from the ball. The important thing is that the ruler looks like it’s pointing dead centre. Once you find that position, reset again and again until you are confident that you can setup in the same position every time. It may seem tedious, but it’s a great way to make sure your set up is consistent and correct.
DRILL NO.4: HOW PROS IMPROVE PUTTING
1. When Tour pros practise their putting, sessions are often split into three parts. The first is based around feedback, and using things like gate drills or mirrors. If a player is working on their set up, they might place a mirror on the ground or use a putting template to give them feedback on their stroke shape and what it needs to feel like.
2. Once they’re feeling comfortable, the next step is on developing skills, and that can involve using certain exercises to test their green reading or ability to control their speed and match it to their start line. A great drill is to read a putt, get a feel for where you want to start the ball and place a gate down and roll the ball through it. If the ball doesn’t go in, it’s either a speed or a read issue.
3. The final part is usually some kind of performance drill, where there’s no feedback or focus on technique. The challenge is to get the ball in the hole. The hurricane drill is a perfect example.
To set it up, place six balls around the hole so the first putt is from three foot, the next is from four foot, the one after that is from five foot and so on. It should create a spiral around the hole so every putt is a different distance and angled across the slope, and requires you to control your speed relative to the read. Added to that is the pressure of needing to hole every putt. You can only move on once you’ve holed all six putts consecutively. You could be there for a while, but it focuses the mind, makes it more relevant and incorporates lots of skills.