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“Heads Up” Putting?


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8 minutes ago, Berg Ryman said:

So, I did the heads up technique for 18 holes on my home course last weekend in a round of 80. I'll be honest, the results were mixed throughout the round, but here's what my stats on Arccos told me.

I lost 1.7 shots a round to a 5 handicapper putting this round. All my other stats were positive strokes gained so it was the flatstick that let me down. Total number of putts, 36. Breakdown of lost strokes on first putts was losing one from 10 feet and in (4 first putts), gaining .7 on putts from 10-25 feet (7 putts), losing .9 on putts 25-50 (6 putts, and losing .5 on 50 plus (1 putt)

So those are the stats, but do they tell the whole story? Well, in a way, yes. I found my stroke was really receptive to that distance from 10-25 ft with heads up because I wasn't focusing on a spot so far away from where I was trying to start things. Something in that midpoint era to start rolling things over. I think the sweet spot for me is around 15-17 feet as that's where I was able to roll in my one birdie and it never felt like missing. Those inside that number were sometimes subject to a bit of strike and path variance that I somewhat chalk up to inexperience and lack of practice with the technique

The longer putts were all started on good lines, but admittedly there were some distance issues getting started, leading to three putts on holes where I really hammered putts to get them there and ran them well by.

The outlier of the bunch is the lost stroke from inside 10 feet, which is apparently being chalked up to a 2 putt from 7 feet on a hole where I had a strong left to right breaker from 7 feet and took a hard lipout. I will say though, the puts from 2nd putts were very "brush it in" feelings when looking at the hole/front of the cup.

So what to make of all of this, these numbers, these stats? I will say I will try again. I have a new grip coming today to put on my putter, a SS Legacy Midslim putter grip and I was good enough at hitting lines to give the experiment a try with a slightly bigger grip to make calm the steer job heads up can put on a stroke. At the very least I can see adopting this technique on short putts out to maybe 6-8 feet, those without major break anyway as they were very easy to just take your mind off of and make. If things continue well I might back that up, but as always, more practice and experimentation is coming.

Any issue with not making solid contact?

I never really experimented with this so it’s hard to say how it’d go but I want to guess that the longer stroke putts would be more apt to miss the face?

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5 minutes ago, bens197 said:

Any issue with not making solid contact?

I never really experimented with this so it’s hard to say how it’d go but I want to guess that the longer stroke putts would be more apt to miss the face?

So Steve, this is something where I think that SIK face tech does help a little bit because of the idea of consistent launch regardless of contact on the face. Being honest with myself perhaps contact wasn't as consistently middled as it could have been as putts from those longer distances were normally short except my uphill 80 footer I rammed 9 feet past but it didn't feel as if there were anything that came up woefully bad save for one putt from around 40 feet that came up super short and left me a ten footer. Maybe not hole high everytime, but safely within the 3 foot circle I like.

I'll also be 100 percent honest, it shouldn't really be something you just jump in both feet with without a bit of practice to develop some kind of idea s to where to aim your eyes, how to pick a spot, etc. I'm an idiot with stuff like this, I don't practice it, I just huck it and hope I catch something. For a while it felt like I had found some kind of spark at least with properly hitting my spots on putts and that gave me confidence to continue trying. As the round progressed I could tell I was changing where my eyes were looking because I has a tendancy to look inside the spot which led to missing low, where the spots were in relation to my starting point because for some I was just staring at the hole, some were 4-6 inches in front of the ball, some were halfway points, etc. It was very learn on the job.. which kinda worked but also has it pitfalls.

In all, it's something I'll try again next time out, maybe with a more refined strategy on how to execute it. I think it's proven valuable enough for another go.

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I've been putting heads up for 3 or 4 years now. Since I live in New England I spent a winter practicing on my bedroom carpet before I took it to the course. I am at the point where my regular playing partners pretty much give me anything inside 5 feet. The real key for my success with this type of putting is I have to stayed very focused on every putt. I mean to the point where I am staring directly at a spec or scratch on the flag stick. When I keep my focus the results are amazing and everything just seems to come instinctively. I look at the flag stick every putt regardless of break but if my mind wanders at all the results are bad.

Often times it is just weird that you think you mishit a putt or had a bad read and it goes in. I don't drain everything but man it has made me a way better putter. Speaking of putters I rotate maybe 3 or 4 different ones and the results are always the same...if I keep my focus on a single point I make more putts. Just focus on a point and everything else should fall into place. 

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1 hour ago, Berg Ryman said:

So Steve, this is something where I think that SIK face tech does help a little bit because of the idea of consistent launch regardless of contact on the face. Being honest with myself perhaps contact wasn't as consistently middled as it could have been as putts from those longer distances were normally short except my uphill 80 footer I rammed 9 feet past but it didn't feel as if there were anything that came up woefully bad save for one putt from around 40 feet that came up super short and left me a ten footer. Maybe not hole high everytime, but safely within the 3 foot circle I like.

I'll also be 100 percent honest, it shouldn't really be something you just jump in both feet with without a bit of practice to develop some kind of idea s to where to aim your eyes, how to pick a spot, etc. I'm an idiot with stuff like this, I don't practice it, I just huck it and hope I catch something. For a while it felt like I had found some kind of spark at least with properly hitting my spots on putts and that gave me confidence to continue trying. As the round progressed I could tell I was changing where my eyes were looking because I has a tendancy to look inside the spot which led to missing low, where the spots were in relation to my starting point because for some I was just staring at the hole, some were 4-6 inches in front of the ball, some were halfway points, etc. It was very learn on the job.. which kinda worked but also has it pitfalls.

In all, it's something I'll try again next time out, maybe with a more refined strategy on how to execute it. I think it's proven valuable enough for another go.

Makes sense to me…if it feels good do it, right?

 

Nice work dude.

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2 hours ago, bens197 said:

Any issue with not making solid contact?

I never really experimented with this so it’s hard to say how it’d go but I want to guess that the longer stroke putts would be more apt to miss the face?

I've been putting this way for 7 years.  I don't remember seriously missing the face.  How do you miss the face when the putter is only moving inches or a foot?  A good setup and practice pretty much ensures solid contact.  Generally, when I miss a putt, it's because I could have made a better read rather than a poor strike on the ball.

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I switched and also went cross handed when Spieth made these both famous 5 or 6 years ago.  I look at the hole or the highest part of the curve on long putts.  On short putts I look down but look from the corner of my eye at the hole, and barely see the putter, concentrate on hitting straight.  Grip with the front hand loose on the lower part of the grip and index finger points down the shaft.  It took a lot of time to find a cross handed grip that worked for me.  And use a face balanced putter.  Both changes take a lot of practice.  But I like this way.  Don't have any stats due to "I play golf between injuries".  I am now 66.  I find I usually get close to a gimmee on long putts.  I don't switch putters, but I practice with various face balanced putters to sharpen my skill and technique.  Placing the finger down the shaft helps with not twisting the putter before impact.  And I have a full follow thru almost as if a full swing.  That helps to imprint a smooth and repeatable stroke.

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14 hours ago, Kenny B said:

I've been putting this way for 7 years.  I don't remember seriously missing the face.  How do you miss the face when the putter is only moving inches or a foot?  A good setup and practice pretty much ensures solid contact.  Generally, when I miss a putt, it's because I could have made a better read rather than a poor strike on the ball.

I've played with a lot of golfers who are more than honest about their struggles on the green.  They have hitches in their stroke and many of them suffer from a quick backstroke and then decel through the ball.

A giant lack of confidence can create a significant disconnect between the hands, wrists, arms and brain.  

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Ive been putting heads up for forty years now… Ive tried putting heads down and find It near impossible now.I have no idea where it’s going. Trouble is you can have bad days with both methods. But head down for me is significantly more accurate than looking at the ball. More so on fast greens head down is much easier to get right speed.

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Had my first successful round going heads up after a poor first round and some practice during scramble tournaments. My proximity on approach shots was poor but I got multiple 50-60’ putts down in two. Made 3 putts from outside 10’. Just couldn’t get any birdies to drop from 10-15’. 
 

Had one from 90’, decided at that distance I should look at the ball… hit the ground before the ball and left it 30’ short lol. Guess I should fully commit. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

4 rounds in and I am losing 1.8 in SG: Putting compared to season long averages... Aeration season and playing the last 2 rounds in 25-35mph winds is not helping things. But even my best result of the 4 rounds heads up only matched my previous average, nothing has beat past performance.

Still some interesting trends have emerged: I am slightly better inside 10' but worse from every other distance, especially 30+ feet. Considering I have averaged hitting the ground at least once per round from 30+, it is relatively easy to explain. Anecdotally, it seems like I have made more putts in the 8-12' range so maybe using this on putts 15 or 20' and in could be helpful a la Spieth. 

With snow in the forecast this weekend, yesterday may have been my last round this season. But I will continue using heads up for rest of year to see if it improves. I've slightly modified my approach to look at a point 2-6" in front of the ball (and 2' in front on Exputt) which I use to align my face during setup. Looking at a target 30-60' away leads to pulled putts for me and I believe the longest putts in Sasho's study was 20' or less. 

My lag practice focusses on benchmarking backswing lengths for 20-30-40-50-60' putts based on my trail foot. I feel removing the putter from my peripheral vision has negatively impacted this aspect. Putts within 20' have a stroke length in between my feet, so heads up probably makes more sense for me personally in this distance as it is more of a "feel" stroke and the risk of ground contact is less. 

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I have been putting like this all summer and I’ve had more success than putting the “normal “ way- I pace my putt out then look at the hole while putting-( all my playing partners are amazed how accurate I am) most of the time-I hole out or it’s a gimme..

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I have been putting heads up for last 2 years. My thought process is like shooting basketball. I always looked at the rim and shot the basketball. I find my lag putting much better. Do not pull putts off line as frequently. If a short fast downhill putt, I go back to looking at ball to prevent to much speed. I believe it dropped 3 to 5 strokes off my handicap of 15.

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Initially, in the late 90’s, experienced this while playing with (& watching) my son’s college golf coach [up at St. Lawrence University (Canton. NY)] who played on the LGPA. Over the years, didn’t do anything with it until a few years ago when related articles appeared in major golf publications — Personal experiences similar to what was reported:  immediate, significant improvement on the 4-8-12’ distances; not as effective on the longer distances (in terms of speed control). — So, for last 2-years, have spot-putt the long ones & cup-look the shorter ones which has brought the average putts/round down to 32-33. Try it! And, stick with it!

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I’ve been doing this for more than 12 years. Here is thread I began in 2012 on this site. 


 

That’s when I got the book that called it “Instinct Putting”. When I’m “feeling it” I sink an uncanny amount of putts. I really need to revisit this and haven’t looked at the podcast that started this thread. 

The bottom line is I started this because I was sick of 3 & 4 putting. I began to aim at the high side of the hole and focus solely on the speed. The goal was to have a tap in for a 2 putt. Suddenly, I began to sink putts from everywhere. I still look at the hole, tend to make a lot of long putts and rarely 3 putt. However, I still have bad days, like during the club championship last month where I had 2 chip-ins and 3 chips to within a foot, and still had 34 putts on the other 13 holes and probably the worst putting day in 15 years.

I also have began this with chipping. Mainly I do this with a 9 iron, pace off the distance from the flag and pick a spot 1/3 the way there.  Say 21 paces and pace back 7 to my landing spot, and read it like a putt. Then make a practice stoke with the 9 iron looking at the ground, step in and look at the spot I want to land on. I missed the green on 9 last Wednesday, and had 21 paces landed 7 Percy on my spot and sank it for a birdie. Hit it in the same place on Thursday but had 18 paces so landed at the 6 pace mark and made it again. But sadly no others on the weekend. 
 

But I look at the hole EVERY PUTT. The side benefit is I no longer even think about my stroke. Just focus on the target. I don’t think about the grip, the stroke, and have noticed that I may use interlocking grip, 10 fingers, overlapping, of even split hands grip. I just do what ever feels right and focus on the speed. Which is what I failed to do on the 34 putts in 13 holes. The next day I had 26 putts on 18 holes, which is more typical, but it didn’t matter for The Championship. I had already played my way out of that tournament. 

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1 hour ago, RoverRick said:

I’ve been doing this for more than 12 years. Here is thread I began in 2012 on this site. 


 

That’s when I got the book that called it “Instinct Putting”. When I’m “feeling it” I sink an uncanny amount of putts. I really need to revisit this and haven’t looked at the podcast that started this thread. 

The bottom line is I started this because I was sick of 3 & 4 putting. I began to aim at the high side of the hole and focus solely on the speed. The goal was to have a tap in for a 2 putt. Suddenly, I began to sink putts from everywhere. I still look at the hole, tend to make a lot of long putts and rarely 3 putt. However, I still have bad days, like during the club championship last month where I had 2 chip-ins and 3 chips to within a foot, and still had 34 putts on the other 13 holes and probably the worst putting day in 15 years.

I also have began this with chipping. Mainly I do this with a 9 iron, pace off the distance from the flag and pick a spot 1/3 the way there.  Say 21 paces and pace back 7 to my landing spot, and read it like a putt. Then make a practice stoke with the 9 iron looking at the ground, step in and look at the spot I want to land on. I missed the green on 9 last Wednesday, and had 21 paces landed 7 Percy on my spot and sank it for a birdie. Hit it in the same place on Thursday but had 18 paces so landed at the 6 pace mark and made it again. But sadly no others on the weekend. 
 

But I look at the hole EVERY PUTT. The side benefit is I no longer even think about my stroke. Just focus on the target. I don’t think about the grip, the stroke, and have noticed that I may use interlocking grip, 10 fingers, overlapping, of even split hands grip. I just do what ever feels right and focus on the speed. Which is what I failed to do on the 34 putts in 13 holes. The next day I had 26 putts on 18 holes, which is more typical, but it didn’t matter for The Championship. I had already played my way out of that tournament. 

I remember you doing that, but that was about the time I joined MGS and I don't remember that book.  I'll have to look for it. 

I started looking at the hole in 2014-15 with similar results.  It took me awhile to be comfortable with longer putts.  Our greens are not small, but not overly large either.  I have noticed that when I travel to an unfamiliar course with large greens, I have trouble from long distances but I'm pretty sure I would have trouble with normal putts... maybe even more so!!  I need to spend at least an hour on their putting green to dial in the speed du jour.  Last year, I actually tried putting "normal" and it was horrendous".  

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I’ve now looked at this “Heads up” article, and while it is similar to what I do, the aiming point is not the same. I’ve tried this, and still find myself doing this occasionally, but tend to miss the putts this way. The difference is the aim point.

”Heads Up” putting is picking an aiming point, much like “Aim Point Putting”, next to the hole. Then unlike “Aim Point” instead of then going to a conventional putting set up, you continue to look at that point during the putt. Sort of a combination Aim Point and Instinct Putting approach. A lot of golfers could benefit from this. 
 

I haven’t read “Instinct Putting” in 8-10 years and began doing this a few years before I came across this book. I look at the putt from a couple of angles but try not to think “I need to aim x” left of the hole.” Instead after I’ve taken it in from various angles I allow my subconscious mind to process all the data points it took in that I was probably not aware of. Including seeing what other putts did around the hole. I then stand behind the ball and “see” the line. Sometimes it is as though there is a line on the ground that I imagine I see. I pick the point to where the ball has to enter the hole based on slope and then place my putter behind the ball and look at the hole. While looking at the hole I make minor adjustments to the face angle until it FEELS like I’m lined up to where the ball will enter the hole. Once it feels like I am on the right line, I forget about the line and think about the speed.
 

Rarely will you miss a hole 5’ left or right, but it is easy to miss it 5’ short or long. That was my original intent. I can’t remember the exact year, but I remember the day I did this the first time. 
 

Golf story, feel free to skip ahead. On our par 3 fourth, I hit to about 4’. Chad, who missed the green said, “I’d be more concerned about the bet if you could putt.” He was right. I lost the hole. On number 5, I had a long putt and decided to look at the hole and focus only on the speed. On the 8th hole I sank a 25’ birdie putt. And another long one on 12. That started my looking at the hole every putt. It freed up my thinking about the stroke and break and allowed me to think about the speed. My looking at the hole was to avoid 3-4-5 putts. I was amazed that they were going in the hole occasionally. 
 

It was some time later that I realized that when I think “aim 3 inches right of the hole”, I would often roll the ball 3” right of the hole. “Left edge” and roll the ball across left edge. If I consciously aimed at a point, my subconscious had me make adjustments to hit that spot. MY FOCUS HAD BECOME THE SPOT NOT THE HOLE. 

Heads Up Putting has you focus on the spot. That may work for you but not for me. I focus on where the ball must enter the hole based on slope.

It’s been several years now but on hole 7 I had a triple breaker from across the green. I’m conscious mind thought it was going to have to break left to right. I adjusted the putter face angle back and forth until it felt right and focused on the speed. Then hit the putt and thought “WTF ARE YOU DOING THE HOLE IS OVER THERE!” I had stated that ball 25° off my “intended” conscious line.   Luckily, I didn’t say it because it took a hard left  turn and a hard right turn and then faded left into the hole. Everyone was amazed. Especially me, I thought I missed it by 15’. I may have failed to mention that to my playing partners. 
 

So looking at the hole works for me. Aiming at a spot other than the hole does not. Just as THINKING about the speed doesn’t work. Do you THINK about how hard to throw a wad of paper at the trash can? Concentrate on the ball rolling into the 7 o’clock position on the hole and hit the putt. 

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On 9/20/2021 at 2:30 PM, Wedgie said:

The real key for my success with this type of putting is I have to stayed very focused on every putt. I mean to the point where I am staring directly at a spec or scratch on the flag stick.

This is how I aim, and it's honestly been thrown off a bit by the flagsticks since COVID rules forced me to leave them in. I find it harder to identify a good spot on really short or straight putts where I'm looking for something directly in front of or behind the flagstick (I prefer to pick targets on the backside of the cup for pace). Sometimes, there's a mark or something on the flagstick which helps, but a lot of times there isn't much of anything so instead of identifying one spot and committing to it, my eyes are constantly scanning and even short putts can go awry. 

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3 hours ago, TR1PTIK said:

This is how I aim, and it's honestly been thrown off a bit by the flagsticks since COVID rules forced me to leave them in. I find it harder to identify a good spot on really short or straight putts where I'm looking for something directly in front of or behind the flagstick (I prefer to pick targets on the backside of the cup for pace). Sometimes, there's a mark or something on the flagstick which helps, but a lot of times there isn't much of anything so instead of identifying one spot and committing to it, my eyes are constantly scanning and even short putts can go awry. 

The flagsticks have helped me.  I started leaving them in when the rules allowed it (actually way before that on casual rounds).  In my mind (where no one wants to be 🤣) the vertical alignment enhances my read of the putt.  This last year after we could remove the flagsticks again, I analyzed my putting, and I was better with the flagstick in; maybe my version of plumb bobbing, which I never understood.  I occasionally play with a player that always wants it out.  That's fine, but now I always ask for it to be put back in the hole.

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7 hours ago, TR1PTIK said:

This is how I aim, and it's honestly been thrown off a bit by the flagsticks since COVID rules forced me to leave them in. I find it harder to identify a good spot on really short or straight putts where I'm looking for something directly in front of or behind the flagstick (I prefer to pick targets on the backside of the cup for pace). Sometimes, there's a mark or something on the flagstick which helps, but a lot of times there isn't much of anything so instead of identifying one spot and committing to it, my eyes are constantly scanning and even short putts can go awry. 

Why not focus on the flagstick itself?

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