By: Arlen Bento, WGCA contributing writer
I am a big fan of consistent routines in golf. Same warm-up, same process, same ball striking…create consistency. I have been teaching my players the same putting warm-up for years, and I caught a segment on Golf Channel about Jordan Speith’s putting warm-up, and it looked like he stole my warm-up guide on putting. Now, I don’t know Jordan, or any of his coaches, and I am sure my routine has developed out my many years of coaching and learning from other great teachers and players. But I was still shocked on how similar his routine was compared to what I recommend.
First thing Jordan did was to warm-up feel; just find a long putt and start making some strokes. Not a lot of thought, just get the ball rolling to a spot. When I coach this concept, I prefer no target; I call this “Putt to Nowhere.” Just take five balls and make a stroke to roll the ball. After the ball stops, take a look and try to putt the next ball to the same exact spot. If you are good, you can putt all five balls to a very small cluster. Now, place a tee in the turf on the spot that you were just putting from and walk your way over the cluster, counting how many paces or steps you took to get the cluster. You need to understand how far your stroke is rolling the ball on the greens for the day. Next, take the cluster of balls and putt the balls back to the tee that you placed in the turf to identify the spot from where you started. See if you can duplicate the stroke. Do this a few times to get the feel of the green and your stroke.
Jordan then went to some mid-length putts, 20 to 30 feet, and started to roll the balls to the hole with his putter. All he was trying to do was get the ball online and rolling the ball so that it stopped a few inches past the hole.
In my program, I call this “establishing the rev’s.” If you can roll every putt 10-12 inches past the hole, you can triple your chances of making a putt. Triple? Yes, triple.
If you are rolling a putting 24 to 36 inches past the hole, the ball is rolling at 4-6 revolutions per second. Your read has to be within one inch of dead perfect to make a putt at that pace. However, if you are rolling the ball to 10 to 12 inches past the hole, you are rolling the ball close to 2-3 revolutions per second, which allows you to be three inches off of dead center and still make a putt.
If the ball is rolling too fast, you have to be almost dead center on your read to make a putt. If you slow the pace down, you will make a lot more putts that catch the edge of the hole or fall in on the back end.
With this theory, you may leave a few putts short from time to time, but your make percentage is so much higher that you will not worry about the one you left short when you made four more that you normally would not have made, because you were putting at the wrong pace.
After working at mid-length putts, Jordan worked on 3-5 foot putts from a circle, creating many different angles and aim points. I call this last exercise clock putting. I teach all my students to read greens like a clock. All you have to do is find what you think is a straight uphill putt and call it 6 o’clock. Now, based on where 6 o’clock is, identify where your ball is to 6 o’clock and give your putt a time.
What you will learn is that each putt breaks to 6 o’clock. 3 o’clock always breaks right to left, 9 o’clock is always breaks left to right.
Everything always breaks to 6 o’clock. Try this routine and you will be amazed at how many more putts you will make.
When you warm up on these short putts, the goal is to make them. I want my players to start at 6 o’clock, working at making five uphill putts.
Then I like them to find 12 o’clock so they can make five downhill putts. Then go to 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock to work on right to left and left to right breaks.
Jordan’s routine took about 20-30 minutes, and then he was off to the driving range.