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Kenny B

Looking at the hole... or not

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We have had discussions in a putting problems thread about looking a the hole when putting. Jordan Spieth does this for short putts, and how can you argue with his putting results!!

 

So, today I went to a muni to play a relaxing round after traveling most of the day yesterday. I usually play pretty poorly when I get back from a trip with a typical round of good drives, so-so putting and lousy chipping. Short game is the first to go, and last to come back! Today I shot 74 on a par 70, an unusually good round for me because I didn't have that many chips. I thought that since this was a "get acquainted with golf again" round, I would try the Jordan Spieth putting style of not looking at the ball on short putts. I know I should have practiced this first, but I am willing to try most anything.

 

I made a commitment to look at the hole on any putt less than 4 feet, and I made all of them.

 

EDIT: Based on jbil's comment, I will clarify that most of the shorter putts were straight, so I was looking at the hole. I did have a few breaking putts, and I was looking at a spot by the hole, not the hole.

 

I actually tried it on putts that were up to 6 feet, and made most of them too. I think the ones I missed were a read issue. I must admit, that it feels a little weird at first, but the more that I did it, I actually started feeling more comfortable. I am going to spend some significant time on the putting green and continue with this method for awhile to see if it improves my putting. I consider myself a decent putter already, but sometimes I get a little antsy over the short ones. I think this method might be a solution to that problem, and provide more feel into my putting stroke.

 

Here is what I did today:

 

I am using my usual ball marking. I mark a line on the ball through the alignment aide with a sharpie (my usual color is RED) and then add another line perpendicular to that line, so it looks like a big T. I aim the alignment leg of the T to the line I have read for the putt and the alignment mark on my putter. After making a few practice strokes to get the feel for distance, I make sure that the putter face is square to the perpendicular mark on the ball. Now that I know that I have aligned the ball and putter correctly, I look at the hole and trusting the read, make the putt. I still look at the ball using the same alignment for long putts, but I think NOT looking at the ball on short putts takes a little of the nervousness away, prevents you from looking up too quick, and frees up the stroke. I am going to spend more time on this to see where my cut-off distance is for NOT looking at the ball.

 

So, has anyone spent any time with this style? Does NOT looking at the ball work for you?

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Did you do it on putts that break or just straight putts or both? I missed 5 birdie putts inside 10 feet today so I'm willing to try it. Can't do any worse.

 

Today I putted without using the line on my ball in an attempt to focus less on line and more on speed and it worked. Didn't have any 3 putts and all of my putts died around the hole. I think when I use the line I stare down at it and it becomes the focus of my attention and I start to worry too much about my stroke.

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I've tried it a few times, when I've gotten "yippy" staring at my alignment markings and fiddling with my stance, and it seems to help on the short ones.  I've just never really committted to it long term.

 

It sure works for Jordan!

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I used it on both straight and breaking putts.  I line up the ball on the line I want to start.  Since speed is important on those putts, I try to get a feel for that before I make the stroke by looking at the hole and making a few practice strokes.  I always do three.  I actually never left a putt short.  I was afraid that I would do that, but didn't happen.

 

Some people need the line, others don't like it.  I need it; my wife hates to use it.  I can putt fine without it on lag putts, but anything within 15 feet I always use it.  

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I'm the opposite of Spieth, I have been looking at the hole on longer putts for several years, seven or eight now. I look at the ball on all putts inside my 50/50 mark, about 8 feet. Remember that Spieth is only an average short putter, he's amazing from mid range and very good at three putt avoidance. He's looking at the hole in his area of weakness not his area of strength.

 

I also have adjusted my stance because I look at the hole. I try to feel like a pitcher getting to deliver a pitch with the hole being the catchers mitt. It works for me but it creates bizarre scenarios where I have to ask people to move because they are in my line of sight.

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This works well on longer putts too. Although on some big breakers its best to look where you want the ball to go,(like the apex of the break, or spot in front of the hole on down hill putts) Every other sport you look at your target not the ball. Why has golf always been different?

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I have been looking at the hole since Spieth was a kid. Well, a little kid. At least several years. When I am putting poorly, it is because I am trying to steer the ball while looking at the hole. But I will say this, typically, putting poorly is defined as not making all putts 8 feet and in and not stopping longer putts within 2 feet of the hole.

 

I rarely 3 putt, and when I do it is almost always a sidehill putt.

 

I have said it many times, and didn't come up with it originally, but you 3 putt because you missed the speed on the first putt by 5 feet or more, not because you misread the break by 5 feet.

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When I practice this, I will try looking at the hole on long putts too. However, that's a little scary for me. When I have to hit the ball fairly hard, like really long putts, uphill putts, or into the grain putts, that's when I suffer. The longer the takeaway, the more I tend to push or pull the putt. By looking at the ball I focus on making sure that I strike the ball square to my intended target line. My lag putting is a strength. I don't 3-putt very often; happens on strange greens. I am not sure if I could do as well by looking at the hole; maybe with practice. I'll give it a shot. As for short putts, looking at the hole seems to work pretty well for me so far, but I need to spend a lot of time on the putting green until it feels normal. However, even if it ends up not working out, I think that just doing it will improve overall putting feel. Now all I have to do is to commit to spending the time on the practice green!!!

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I have been looking at the hole since Spieth was a kid. Well, a little kid. At least several years. When I am putting poorly, it is because I am trying to steer the ball while looking at the hole. But I will say this, typically, putting poorly is defined as not making all putts 8 feet and in and not stopping longer putts within 2 feet of the hole.

 

I rarely 3 putt, and when I do it is almost always a sidehill putt.

 

I have said it many times, and didn't come up with it originally, but you 3 putt because you missed the speed on the first putt by 5 feet or more, not because you misread the break by 5 feet.

I agree. I rarely miss the speed of the putt except on unfamiliar greens. On long putts, I can miss right or left. When the pressure is on, I can miss the 2, 3, and 4 footers. For me, that's a poor putting day, and if looking at the hole eliminates that mistake, I will change in a heartbeat!

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Great thread Kenny!  And a great round of 74!  I started looking at the hole back in the early nineties when I got a dose of the yips.  I even bought a left handed Zebra putter in an effort to fix that malaise that afflicts so many of us out of nowhere.  I stopped doing it when I got through that period but have done it from time to time.  More so lately since Jordan has had so much success with it.  I seen him do it on some quite long putts at various times as well as short putts.  I do it on the practise green more than anywhere else and to be honest haven't been brave enough to try it on the live firing range.  I suppose I make about 80% on the practise range but haven't been serious about it.  Maybe it's time to have a red hot go at it and see if it works for me out there. Nothing to lose.

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That's what I thought. When I started playing golf about 24 years ago, I was a terrible putter. My pro said I had "hands of stone" and I never boxed! :) That pissed me off and I worked hard to get better (probably why he said it, come to think of it).

 

I have a left-handed Wilson putter that I used for awhile, and got pretty good with it inside 6 feet. But long putts were terrible, missing 5 feet short or long like Rick said.

 

Like I said, I don't 3-putt very often, but I can miss short ones now and then which results in a 3-putt or missed birdie. That's my whole reason for trying something different. Maybe it will work, maybe not. But I will stick with it until it feels comfortable, then make an assessment.

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Don't get all wrapped up in looking at the hole while putting. Or looking at the ball while putting. The object is to get all wrapped up in sinking the putt, and when you feel you are aimed at what you want, then hit the ball with the proper speed.

 

It doesn't matter if you keep the shaft straight up and down, or use the claw or pop the ball or anything else, (Until January when the "Anchor-phobes" take over.) 

 

I get my line from behind the ball. Then step left or right so I am looking at my starting line. Then set up along that line, and look at the hole. I then adjust my putter head to where it feels like I am going to hit the ball into the back of the hole coming in at whatever angle feels comfortable. I then aim a spot on the back of the hole and concentrate fully on that spot. I usually am looking at that spot when I pull the trigger but I might not be. I may look at the ball or some other spot, but my concentration is such that I don't think about what I am looking at.

 

I often know the instant the ball leaves the putter if it will drop. And there have been times when I wanted to curse myself because it looked starting out like I hit a horrible putt.

 

Yesterday for example, I had a 25-30'er from the back fringe that looked to be straight downhill. When I hit the putt one of the guys I was playing with said, "Where you goin'?" because, it looked like I was going to miss by 4 feet right of the hole. 5 feet to go and I said "Wait for it!" I was still 4 feet and starting to turn left, 3 feet to go and I was now just 2 feet right turning harder and slowing down. 1 foot to go and I was 1 foot right. And the ball stopped about an inch from the right side.  He said, "Better than most."

 

Bottom line was I was focused on the hole and allowed my subconscious to take over and hit the ball.

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Don't get all wrapped up in looking at the hole while putting. Or looking at the ball while putting. The object is to get all wrapped up in sinking the putt, and when you feel you are aimed at what you want, then hit the ball with the proper speed.

 

It doesn't matter if you keep the shaft straight up and down, or use the claw or pop the ball or anything else, (Until January when the "Anchor-phobes" take over.) 

 

I get my line from behind the ball. Then step left or right so I am looking at my starting line. Then set up along that line, and look at the hole. I then adjust my putter head to where it feels like I am going to hit the ball into the back of the hole coming in at whatever angle feels comfortable. I then aim a spot on the back of the hole and concentrate fully on that spot. I usually am looking at that spot when I pull the trigger but I might not be. I may look at the ball or some other spot, but my concentration is such that I don't think about what I am looking at.

 

I often know the instant the ball leaves the putter if it will drop. And there have been times when I wanted to curse myself because it looked starting out like I hit a horrible putt.

 

Yesterday for example, I had a 25-30'er from the back fringe that looked to be straight downhill. When I hit the putt one of the guys I was playing with said, "Where you goin'?" because, it looked like I was going to miss by 4 feet right of the hole. 5 feet to go and I said "Wait for it!" I was still 4 feet and starting to turn left, 3 feet to go and I was now just 2 feet right turning harder and slowing down. 1 foot to go and I was 1 foot right. And the ball stopped about an inch from the right side.  He said, "Better than most."

 

Bottom line was I was focused on the hole and allowed my subconscious to take over and hit the ball.

So, you are saying that you were looking at the hole even though the putt was going to break 4 feet? I am trying to figure out if I should be looking at the hole all the time or only on straight putts. The few I had today that had a little break, I looked at a spot slightly off the hole where I thought it should go.

 

Nice putt by the way!

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Spoken like a true Jedi Master Rick!  Love it.  Two great bits of word porn thus far in this thread "anchor-phobes" and "hands of stone".  I have to say I love language and modes of expressing ideas.  Great stuff.  Sorry to slightly hijack your thread with my language fetish Kenny!  But is was you who made the "hands of stone" comment.

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Didn't jordan miss a bunch of shorties in the open?

 

I tried it but was way too inconsistent. I never had trouble looking at the ball, instead of trying to watch the ball go in, but figured I would give it a try. Friend who does have a problem with this- focuses on the cup and has improved within 4 feet.

As long as the ball gets in the cup do what works.

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So, you are saying that you were looking at the hole even though the putt was going to break 4 feet? I am trying to figure out if I should be looking at the hole all the time or only on straight putts. The few I had today that had a little break, I looked at a spot slightly off the hole where I thought it should go.

 

Nice putt by the way!

 

When you go skeet shooting or bird hunting do you look at the bird, where you are going to shoot, or at the gun sight? The bird.

 

So when I putt:

  1. I look at the green as I approach and determine the overall slope.
  2. I get directly behind the ball and imagine the line the putt must travel to go into the hole. (Sometimes that line appears bright white and 6 inches wide and sometimes it is a faded barely discernible line. On the bright white days, I may go on a run and go low.)
  3. I then step left or right and look down my starting line and see the ball breaking in my mind.
  4. Then, I set up along that line and look at the hole.
  5. This is the key step-I look at the hole and determine how hard to hit the ball and make minor adjustments to my alignment. And do this until I "feel" like that is right.
  6. then hit the ball.

There are days when I do not get that "feel" especially on unfamiliar greens.  The "line" is barely discernible and I don't "feel" the alignment is right. And consequently the putt does not go in the hole. But because I am still focusing on the distance, the ball still arrives close to the hole. And that "feel" is a total body "feel". From the bottoms of my feet to the palms of my hands, it all "feels" like I am on the right line.

 

Also, I do not take practice strokes with the putter. If I am totally off I will first try just looking at the hole and totally clearing my mind of evey thing else. If that doesn't work, I may take some practice stokes. The first intentionally too hard and the second intentionally too soft and three or four until I feel like it is just right. This is much more common for putts from off the green or chips or long putts over 50 feet.

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Didn't jordan miss a bunch of shorties in the open?

 

I tried it but was way too inconsistent. I never had trouble looking at the ball, instead of trying to watch the ball go in, but figured I would give it a try. Friend who does have a problem with this- focuses on the cup and has improved within 4 feet.

As long as the ball gets in the cup do what works.

 

Yes, he missed a bunch of putts at both Opens.

 

I can't speak for him, but I am bad about trying to steer the ball on the short ones. These are right on the verge, say 4 or 5 feet, a breaking putt but close enough that a firm putt will not break. In that case, I may look at a spot or think firm to the back. These are the putts that statistically you miss, but they are frustrating because it is just 4-5 feet. I walk off thinking, "if I would have played it like I felt like I should have it would gone in." When the reality is, it could have gone either way.

 

Spieth had the hottest putter in the world and was missing them. And don't even ask DJ about that type of putt.

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I'm enjoying this topic. Good introduction Kenny. I've tried looking at the hole on short putts a few times and it was scary to me. Defiantly a technique I'd have to work with on the practice green. I'm a good putter. However, over the past month I've been missing short 3-4 footers. WTH?!! I think I know why I hope. About a month ago I decided to replace my old worn SuperStroke grip with a new one. Only this time I installed it with the flat part of the grip to the left side. Meaning the flat part was in my left palm as opposed to flat down the top of the grip. I've known several players that use these types of grips to place the flat side of the grip either on the left or right palm side. Regardless of which way they putt. Anyway, last weekend I noticed that my right (lower hand) fingers were applying uneven pressure along the flat side of the grip causing either a pulling or pushing the putter-head either slightly open or closed. And... that's where I've been missing. Slightly right or left of the cup. Very upsetting. Those putts are normally automatic for me. Sigh. This past Monday I removed the grip and repositioned it like I used to have it with the flat part of the grip on top. Like I used to have it. I'll play tomorrow so we'll see. I bet my problem will be solved. I do plan to get out and practice my putting tonight so I think I'll also experiment with the Kenny Spieth method.

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I'm enjoying this topic. Good introduction Kenny. I've tried looking at the hole on short putts a few times and it was scary to me. Defiantly a technique I'd have to work with on the practice green. I'm a good putter. However, over the past month I've been missing short 3-4 footers. WTH?!! I think I know why I hope. About a month ago I decided to replace my old worn SuperStroke grip with a new one. Only this time I installed it with the flat part of the grip to the left side. Meaning the flat part was in my left palm as opposed to flat down the top of the grip. I've known several players that use these types of grips to place the flat side of the grip either on the left or right palm side. Regardless of which way they putt. Anyway, last weekend I noticed that my right (lower hand) fingers were applying uneven pressure along the flat side of the grip causing either a pulling or pushing the putter-head either slightly open or closed. And... that's where I've been missing. Slightly right or left of the cup. Very upsetting. Those putts are normally automatic for me. Sigh. This past Monday I removed the grip and repositioned it like I used to have it with the flat part of the grip on top. Like I used to have it. I'll play tomorrow so we'll see. I bet my problem will be solved. I do plan to get out and practice my putting tonight so I think I'll also experiment with the Kenny Spieth method.

 

 

Let me know how it goes.  It feels scary to me, but I did have some success so will stick with it until it feels better to get a reasonable assessment.

 

 

When you go skeet shooting or bird hunting do you look at the bird, where you are going to shoot, or at the gun sight? The bird.

 

So when I putt:

  1. I look at the green as I approach and determine the overall slope.
  2. I get directly behind the ball and imagine the line the putt must travel to go into the hole. (Sometimes that line appears bright white and 6 inches wide and sometimes it is a faded barely discernible line. On the bright white days, I may go on a run and go low.)
  3. I then step left or right and look down my starting line and see the ball breaking in my mind.
  4. Then, I set up along that line and look at the hole.
  5. This is the key step-I look at the hole and determine how hard to hit the ball and make minor adjustments to my alignment. And do this until I "feel" like that is right.
  6. then hit the ball.

There are days when I do not get that "feel" especially on unfamiliar greens.  The "line" is barely discernible and I don't "feel" the alignment is right. And consequently the putt does not go in the hole. But because I am still focusing on the distance, the ball still arrives close to the hole. And that "feel" is a total body "feel". From the bottoms of my feet to the palms of my hands, it all "feels" like I am on the right line.

 

Also, I do not take practice strokes with the putter. If I am totally off I will first try just looking at the hole and totally clearing my mind of evey thing else. If that doesn't work, I may take some practice stokes. The first intentionally too hard and the second intentionally too soft and three or four until I feel like it is just right. This is much more common for putts from off the green or chips or long putts over 50 feet.

 

 

Rick,

I am somewhat concerned that looking at the hole will cause me to make an unconscious adjustment at the last minute on breaking putts.  That's why I picked a spot off the hole when I knew the putt broke.  I am headed to the practice green shortly to spend an hour or so, and will try it both ways.  Thanks for your putting steps.  As I have heard on the MGS board, you are a helluva putter.  

 

I know Rev says that putting is overrated using the strokes gained stat, but I need every putt I can get since I am distance challenged off the tee.  If I can decrease my number of putts and make more birdies and par saves, maybe I can stave off Father Time for another year!!

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I stopped lining my ball up and am just going off feel. It has worked wonders for my putting. I may not hole a ton more but I put it close a lot more often and have far fewer 3 putts. 

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