By Keely Levins
PINEHURST, N.C. -- It's hot here at Pinehurst. Like cold-wet-towel-around-your-neck, carrying-umbrellas-for-shade, people-desperately-searching-for-trees kind of hot.
Sadly, there are no trees near the putting green. Yet LPGA pros aren't sweating the fact they're sweating it. I subsequently got over my fear of the heat (gimme a break, I'm from Vermont) to go see what the best in the world do to prepare for the U.S. Women's Open.
Here's Jennifer Johnson putting next to her alignment aid:
It's called the Perfect Putter. Johnson, who won on tour last year and finished T-3 in the ShopRite LPGA Classic last month, lines up the device -- it looks like a mini ski jump -- to a hole. She starts a ball at the top of the ski jump, lets it go and watches the line it takes. Once she has identified the true line that rolls the ball into the hole, she traces with a marker the edges of the Perfect Putter frame. These lines are only a few inches long because she only traces the portion of the frame where the ball releases from. Removing the training aid, Johnson then puts a ball down in between the lines. She has now guaranteed herself proper alignment, allowing her then to focus solely on her stroke.
There are a lot of drills that attempt to do something similar -- using chalk lines, setting up tees on either side of the putter head, etc. -- but Johnson says she likes this because she knows she's putting on the right line. So long as she hits the ball square on the clubface, she should hole every putt. Which of course is what she hopes to be doing come Thursday.