Friday, August 18, 2017

Why the Line on Your #Golf Ball Could Hurt Your Putting

Do you draw a line on your golf ball and use it to point to where you want your ball to roll on the green? If so, you could be diminishing your chances to hole out.

During a recent lesson with my PGA instructor, Dale Ketola, at the Grande Dunes Golf Performance Center, the focus was on putting and the mental game. Dale made me realize that I don't need the line which I currently place on my ball to point to the target - the line, speed, confidence, and feel are all in my head.

Focus Band

Dale incorporates really high line golf technology into his lessons to show where players need improvement or if they are on the right track. Along with V1 software, BODITRAK and Flightscope, my very able instructor utilizes FocusBand with his students.

FocusBand is a mind-sensing neurofeedback device which shows when a golfer is thinking too much negative thoughts when playing the game. Sounds like it comes from the head of Gene Roddenberry, doesn't it? Several well known PGA Tour, LPGA and Tour players, such as Jason Day and Michelle Wie, use this apparatus...and now it is my turn to try it out!

We used this headband during my putting lesson to help measure my subconscious thoughts while standing over the ball. Am I:
- Overthinking (Excessive Fear or Anxiety)
- Having Fear of Failure
- Frustrated
- In the Zone

Stacy Solomon wearing Focus BandDale dropped a ball on the green (as if it landed in that perfect position) and watched as I performed my pre-shot routine.

The simple interface showed that, while standing over the ball ready to putt, my brain was "in the red zone".

Uh, oh,...I was definitely thinking too much! But, what was I thinking of? That was for my instructor to determine as machines cannot give you that piece of the puzzle...yet.

It is his experience as a teacher and player that made me understand what I am thinking, sensing and how to limit my thoughts to one visual before striking the ball.

I asked Dale what he does during his pre-shot putting routine. He says that, before taking his putt, he analyzes the green, then stares at the dirt in the bottom of the cup and puts that thought of the circle into his mind; he goes up to the marker, places his ball (with a small circle drawn on top) into position, aims and shoots.

At address, I need to, "Occupy my mind with what's going to happen, not how it's going to happen."

You can also relate putting to driving a car and how you don't consciously think of pressing down on gas or brake pedal or placing your hands on the steering wheel or turning your car to the left or right - you just know how to do it already and make it happen.

I learned quite a bit during my putting lesson at the Golf Performance Center - thank you, Dale! Now, I need to practice my new routine so that, when I get onto the course, my brain is in the "green zone" on the green!

A parting thought about the importance of putting...

After his sobering loss at the 99th PGA Championship, David Duval said of Hideki Matsuyama, "On a Sunday, I don't think you have to make a ton of 15-footers, but you have to make the four and five footers to win a golf tournament."

Here is a great putt from Justin Thomas during the 3rd round of the U.S. Open which helps prove that the mind is what gets the golf ball to the hole:

What techniques do you use to "see" the ball to the hole? Let's talk putting! Post comments below on this golf blog and on Twitter @Golf4Beginners.


Brian said...

I have used a line on my ball for years and it helps me square the putter to the break I see. However, I still have to square the putter at impact and make sure I have the right speed for the break I read. That is where the art comes in. It is really interesting when you watch PGA tour players on the practice green and all the contraptions they use to try and perfect their strokes. Then when we watch the great putters actually play, it seems so simple and intuitive like you have described. How does someone like Steve Stricker seem to make every short putt he sees? I'm not sure if he has a line on the ball but I don't think it would matter.

Nice blog post.

Stacy at Golf for Beginners said...

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your comments! I have used a line on my ball for so long that I got used to it. I started correcting myself after I placed the line where I wanted it to be...definitely a flaw in that system!

I tried "feeling" the ball to the hole, being less restrictive on keeping my head down and, instead, opting for keeping my head still - I think that helped me immensely.

-- Stacy