Lesson TeeJuly 13, 2010

Find Your Routine

Quick or slow, only you know what really works

JACK NICKLAUS: I've never been one to have a set routine that would force me to hit a putt before I was comfortable. Davis Love III just looks at the putt, and boom. That works for him. I would have a difficult time putting that way.

Davis joked with me once, when we were about to play a round at Seminole, "Jack, are you going to putt in your usual way and have a sandwich from when you first look at the ball to when you hit it?" Meaning, I took my time. But I never hit a putt until I was ready. It worked for me.

I wanted to make sure I had a good feel for the putt, that my grip pressure was light and constant, that I controlled the putter with my right hand (above, right). This let me push the putter smoothly through the ball with my right arm. And I wanted to visualize the correct line. That's why I got into my unusual crouch. I'm left-eye dominant, so bending over with an open stance (above, left) was the only way I could see the line.

JIM FLICK: Jack treated golf like a puzzle, so he never got bored. He enjoyed solving problems. Like the guided discovery method Harvey Penick used in which he simply led students to figure things out on their own, learning is often most meaningful when you find out for yourself what gives you the most effective results.

Putting strokes are like fingerprints: Each one is unique. Jack's routine had similarities from one putt to the next, but he gave himself time to make adjustments, especially when he was under stress.

Look at Lee Trevino. He handled pressure by talking. Ben Hogan handled it by not talking. Find out how you play your best and stick to that.

NICKLAUS writes articles only for Golf Digest.

FLICK, a longtime Golf Digest Teaching Professional and PGA Golf Professional Hall of Famer, worked with hundreds of amateurs and tour players including Jack Nicklaus.