Putting part 4: THE BLESSED STATE
By T.J. TOMASI
In this last part of the series on putting comes the real secret: No matter what the actual mechanics of your stroke are, you must commit them to “unconscious coampetence.” This leaves your mind clear to image — to see in your mind’s eye the putt and how it will turn out.
You learn the mechanics of your stoke by using conscious competence, that is, you learn the various putt mechanics one by one. Then the trick is to no longer think of them as separate or individual, but as a whole movement.
This mental segue
from parts to whole is a prime-time skill that must be developed. This is what Arnold Palmer calls the “blessed state in which you perform without knowing or giving the slightest thought to how you’re performing.” It sounds easy, but under pressure the urge to revert to mechanics is very strong.
Merging the parts of your stroke into a unified whole requires practice, but not just any kind of practice. You must use drills that “put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.”
Below is one of my favorite drills to ingrain all of the basic putting skills.
Choose a breaking
putt and place a ball at each 3-foot (one-pace) interval on the arc. Place one ball in “gimme range” just to start your progression off on the right foot. Starting with the ball nearest the hole, try to make each putt.
Repeat this drill,placing balls at 5-foot in-tervals, then 8-foot intervals, etc., always starting with the ball nearest the hole. Make sure you start the drill by positioning yourself on the arc.
Remember, when you can consistently achieve what you intended in practice, you acquire confidence. And confidence is a cornerstone of good putting.
1. To be an average putter, avoid three-putts.
2. To be a good putter, learn to make birdie and par putts when you have the chance.
3. To be a great putter, you must make birdie and par putts when you don’t have a chance.
Develop a mind-set that you can make putts at the least likely of times and at just the right moment when your round is hanging in the balance. Like a world-class diamond cutter with just one stroke to get it right, you need to be able to make the stroke under pressure.