Pro Tip: When a problem arises, get to its roots
One of the worst putts I’ve ever hit was at the 17th hole in the final round of the 1966 Masters. I eventually won the tournament in a playoff, but would have done so in regulation if I’d made that 3-footer. I aimed the ball at the right corner of the hole and hit it firmly, but pulled it so badly that is never came close.
The natural reaction to this kind of situation is to assume that your nerves failed you and to try to put the matter aside, but I knew better. There was a mechanical reason why I missed that putt. What made me certain were the 38 putts I’d required two days previously, seven of them from less than 5 feet. My problem was identifying the flaw.
Television came to the rescue as I watched a replay of that awful miss at the 17th Sunday. My head was too far out over that target line, forcing me to look back or inward at the ball. This meant that, although I felt like I was squaring the putter face correctly, I was actually aiming it to the left of where I wanted to start the ball rolling. After practicing for a while that that evening with my head correctly positioned, I did not hit a single poor putt in Monday’s playoff.
Moral No. 1: When your game goes bad, be sure to get to the real root of the problem. Moral No. 2: In matters of alignment, trust a camera, teacher or knowledgeable friend’s reading more than your own.
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Zack Vervaecke, Head PGA Professional, (515) 999-2903