My Jordan Spieth Experiment: A New Putting Routine
I think there’s a lot to learn from watching Jordan Spieth play golf, and I’m trying to incorporate something that I see him doing into my game.
I’ve said before that putting is a completely different game inside of golf. I don’t believe what you do on other parts of the golf course necessarily translates to success on the putting green. Putting is the most mental part of a game that is already completely mental (that’s a mouthful).
What I mean is that when you’re on the putting green your mind has to be completely focused, and in a positive state. That focus should remain mostly on two things, the line of your putt and the speed. Once you start second-guessing yourself it generally does not lead to putts going in the hole.
When you can commit to both of these elements, you will generally be a more successful putter. That is exactly what I see Jordan Spieth doing. If you’ve been watching him over the last 6 months it’s pretty obvious that he is the best putter in the world.
In the biggest moments he seems to step up to the ball with complete authority and make a confident stroke, and that is what I am trying to emulate.
I don’t expect to see the same exact results, but I am starting to realize more than ever that commitment is a vital part to success on the greens (and the rest of the game for that matter).
Bonus Content: Be sure to check out my complete guide to putting.
Time for a change
I’m not a great putter, and I think if I want to get to the next level I will need to start draining more putts in the 5-15 foot region. That mostly is going to have to come through more practice time, but I’m also changing my routine.
I’ve been mainly doing the same thing on the greens for as many years as I can remember, and I think it’s time to switch things up. I evaluate my line, step up, and take two practice strokes and then putt.
Jordan Spieth (and some other players on tour like Brandt Snedecker) does not usually take any practice strokes once he addresses the ball.
I see so many golfers on the course who take forever over their putts. I’m not a mind reader, but I have to believe positive thoughts are not running through their brains. I believe if you can limit the amount of time you spend while you’re over the ball, and just commit to your stroke, you are going to be more successful.
My new routine
I am now getting behind my ball and focusing on the line exclusively (a tip I picked up from Dave Stockton in this book). Once I’ve picked a line, I maintain my eyes on that spot, and make a few practice strokes to get the feel of the speed I am going for.
I do my alignment technique with my putter, step up to the ball, and take a few looks at my line and the hole. No more rehearsals, I just stroke it.
So far I am loving it, and there is no question that I am making more putts in the 5-8 foot range.
Now of course this is not a scientific experiment, and I’ll have to see how it sticks. I find that sometimes when you make a change in golf, initially it pays off, but then you might revert back to your prior mistakes. Hopefully this won’t be the case!
Either way, I believe that a commitment to the line once you step up to the ball is the right way to go.
If you find that you are the kind of player that hovers over your ball forever and takes 3-4 practice strokes before your putt, I would give this a try. Great putters believe in the stroke they are going to make, and this technique could eliminate those costly 10-20 seconds before a putt when you start to question yourself.
Most golfers take a bunch of practice strokes because they just think it’s the right thing to do. It’s mainly an effort in futility since the stats show that most amateur golfers are absolutely dreadful outside of 5 feet. So you’ve got nowhere to go but up!
Your performance on the green can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why not focus more on commitment, rather than wasting time with self-doubt and second-guessing? Your first instincts are usually correct, so go with those and don’t look back.
Just remain realistic though. it’s statistically inevitable that you are going to miss most of your putts,. Overall, your main goal is to limit your three putts so your hold never lose site of that.
Step up and stroke it, and it might help you accomplish this goal.
UPDATE: A few months after writing this article I can say that this continues to work wonders for my putting. I am averaging about 1.7 putts per hole, which is an all time low for me. I firmly believe that changing my routine, and adding the forward press as a trigger has helped me make more confident strokes.
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Michael P says
Interesting article. When I pulled this up, I was expecting it to be about Spieth’s practice of looking at the hole on shorter putts. I’ve been trying this on the practice green. It works until I start thinking about it! I have not had the nerve to try on the course yet. So it may just be a fun drill to train myself to putt unconsciously for now.
I take three practice strokes. I think of it as a variation on differential training. I take one that will be too short, and I envision the ball stopping weakly short. Then I take one that will be too long and I envision the ball racing by the whole. Then I take a just-right stroke and envision it within tap-in range, and think “that’s the stroke”. Then I pull the trigger. When (!) I remember to do this, my lag putting is much better.
Kerry Flitter says
Does anyone else do what I do on the green?
I try and putt as if its a computer golf game, or like a machine ~ preset the line with a line on the ball (most people do that) but then also preset the power by the distance to putter goes back in relation to my feet (nobody does that)
Back to right foot is 8 steps (not paces) just beyond right foot is 11, and a little more than that is 15. Count 1000-2000-3000-4000 to keep the tempo constant, then stroke.
Do not give it any more/less to compensate for slope or fast/slow greens as you should already have done this in your calculation of how many steps. Its pretty difficult to hit a bad putt doing this, and its particularly good if you’ve had a lay off and are lacking in feel, as you must NOT use any feel when you putt like this.