*This post was originally yesterday's Saturday Morning Tip. I've updated it after watching Adam Scott give a virtual putting and ball-striking clinic on Sunday./RS *
If you're at all shaky on the short putts, take a tip from Adam Scott, who shot a first-round 62 at this week's WGC Bridgestone Invitational, holing putt after putt from inside 10 feet, then went on to win by four shots at 17 under par. The insight he shed in Golf Digest's July issue can help--if you're ready to try the long putter. Here's what Adam said, noting that he anchors the butt of the putter grip into his sternum with his left hand:
"The way I do it is not complicated, and it's based more on my natural feel than any instruction. I don't take a practice stroke, so I step up with my right hand only on the club and eye-up the line. Then I take my stance and place my left hand at the top, checking the line again. Finally, I reposition my right hand--forefinger down the shaft--and go. My putting is finally measuring up to the rest of my game."
Now, if you are not yet ready to try the long putter, or if you feel it just "doesn't look like golf," here are some things you might try to be smoother on the short ones under pressure:
--Putt with your eyes closed. Johnny Miller says he won tournaments doing this. Line up the putt with your normal routine, but before taking the putter back, simply close your eyes. The key here is to think of the distance of the putt as you let the putter swing back and through. Keep your eyes closed until well after impact, or until you hear the ball drop in the cup. Try this on the practice green first. You might be amazed how well it works because you can simply make a stroke without anticipating impact with the ball.
--Putt one-handed. It really doesn't matter which hand you use. Tiger practices with just his right hand on the putter; Dave Stockton advocates practicing with only the left. Using just one hand allows the putter to swing as a result of its own weight. It's incredible how well the putter works on its own if you don't interfere with it.
the ball while facing the target allows you to see the ball and the line at the same time. That can give you immense confidence under pressure and takes your mind off your stroke.
--Ultimate pendulum. I once saw my club pro do this, very effectively, using a long putter. He anchored the butt of the grip under his chin, then pulled the putter back with his right thumb and forefinger, then simply let go with his right hand. The weight of the putterhead allowed it to swing into the ball, squaring up perfectly every time. With a little practice, he figured out how far back to draw the putter to roll the ball various distances. I know it sounds like a desperate measure, but sometimes this maddening game requires desperate measures.
Good luck with your game this weekend--especially on your short putting--and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.