Learn How to Control Putting Speed With “Feelings”
Have you seen Jordan Spieth play? If yes, you might have wondered at one point why he looks up at the hole as he putts instead of looking down the ball. It may seem odd, but this technique helps with your putts’ speed control.
The basis of this drill is the basic coordination of the hand and eye, involving rolling or tossing a ball (see photo 1). This helps the eye to figure out which necessary arm swing to use in order to roll a ball in that exact distance. Typically, I check on the actual tossing technique that requires an even arm swing combined with a constant, very light pressure. These mechanics are just like the ones required to get a good putting stroke. (See photos 2, 3, and 4)
Start with your normal stance when putting and setting up, then rather than looking down at the ball, try to look at the hole. Imagine that the golf ball is in your tossing hand, then roll the ball to the hole using your putter. As you do this, try to feel the motion as if you are using your hands to toss the ball instead of the putter. (See photos 5 and 6)
You may need to try this drill a few times before you get familiar with the feel and overcome the fear of not having to look at the ball. This hand-eye coordination is not for hitting the ball, since hand-eye coordination is not necessary to make a contact. In this case, your eyes focus on the target, like when you throw darts, shoot a free throw, or pitch a baseball. Both your hands and arms coordinate with what your eyes are seeing in order to determine the right amount of force or energy required to reach the target. In putting, it is the exact arm swing combined with constant hand pressure that needs the golf ball to roll to a particular distance.
Once you’ve done a few close rolls and have become familiar with how the speed of the green feels, try and see if you can do it with closed eyes and just by feel. Thanks to Jordan Spieth for this drill, with the idea of taking the mind off rules and mechanics and focus on the feel for distance and target. You can start to “get in touch with your feelings” by practicing putts from no less than 20 feet.