Don't try this at home
Hideki Matsuyama's mind-boggling putting drill, explained
Pros will resort to anything to improve their putting, and at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play this week, 2021 Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama seems to be pushing the limits of what's possible.
During the first round action, while warming up for his opening match, ESPN cameras panned over to Matsuyama and watched in awe as he completed an elaborate putting drill.
So, what's the point of this torture device putting drill? It's effectively a combination of lots of different drills that coaches use for various things...
Hideki's drill, explained
The black training aid you see on the ground, with the silver marbles at the end, is called a Dave Pelz Putting Tutor. It's one of the most famous putting training aids ever invented. In order to roll the ball between the marbles the putterface needs to be square at impact. If it's not, then you won't be able to.
The two tees between the putterhead form a classic gate putting drill. Tiger does it all the time; if you swing your putter between them, you'll hit the ball on the sweet spot.
The tee behind the ball is slightly unusual, but it's probably there to prevent Matsuyama's putter from staying too low to the ground on the backswing. It may be that Matsuyama is hitting too far up on his putts and clipping the top of the ball. The tee behind the ball could be preventing that from happening.
As for the coin on the putter head, putting coaches will often do this to smooth out the tempo and transition of a player's stroke (here's a Golf Digest Schools series with lots of drills like this).
If the coin stays on the putterhead as you stroke the putt, your putterhead isn't getting jerked around. Matsuyama puts the coin on the toe of the putter (again, slightly unusual), which both makes the drill more difficult and slows down the movement of the toe of the putter. If Hideki twists the toe shut or open, the coin is more likely to fall off.
In some roundabout way, this gives Matsuyama both the feedback he needs, and the challenge to keep him focused. Both of those things are the hallmark of smart, good practice — even if it looks a little strange along the way.
For more nerdy putting nuggets, check out the latest 10-minute episode of the Golf IQ podcast below (or subscribe to the podcast right here!)