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    5 Secrets to Holing More Putts

    By Dave Stockton, Sr. with David DeNunzio
    May 06, 2013, 4:57:36 AM EDT

    My father, Gail, taught me how to play, along with thousands of others. He'd often book five lessons in a row, and warn the student next in line, "Don't listen to what I tell the person in front of you." I agree with Dad: you can't spoon-feed the same mechanics to everyone. That's why we've had such success with Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie, Phil Mickelson and other big-name golfers. Our goal is to simply get golfers comfortable with putting.

    Sure, we look at the stroke, but what's more important --and something I've focused on during my 40 plus years of playing and teaching --are the fundamentals that come before it. If you can't read greens, see the line, and become comfortable in your setup, then you're toast. So keep your stroke (for now), and follow my five key pre-putt moves. They'll have you putting lights out in no time.

    1. GET A BETTER READ Focus on the last part of your putt GREEN-READING IS tricky, no doubt. There's more to it than judging slope --speed determines the line as much as anything. But if you haven't got a clue about how to read greens, go back to the ultimate basic: where would water drain off if it had accumulated on the putting surface? Course designers don't build bowls in the middle of greens--they want water to drain off as quickly as possible, and not into an adjacent bunker. Check for drains around the green. Lakes and ponds are other good clues. These are natural runoff areas, and good indicators that the green slope favors that direction.

    Once you figure out which way a putt breaks, give it another look from the low side. A lot of people do this, but they do it from the middle of the putt. The first third of a putt has almost zero to do with break, since the ball is moving so fast. What's important is the last third --this is where the ball will be slowing down and turning the most, and this is from where you need to make your secondary read.

    2. GET A ROUTINE Treat putts like drives LPGA player and 2008 Rookie of the Year Yani Tseng came to us following a bad stretch this past summer. We headed out to the practice area, but to her surprise, I blew right past the practice putting green and drove straight to the first tee. "I need to work on my putting," she said, a little confused. "I know, but just hit a tee shot." She pulled her driver and striped one. Same for her approach, an 8-iron that landed 8 feet from the pin. When we got to the green, I moved the ball back to 15 feet and asked her to make it. She didn't come close.

    "Can we go to the practice green now?" she begged. I told her we didn't need to. The problem wasn't her mechanics, but her routine. The concentrated, focused effort that she gave her full swings, complete with well-rehearsed, well-orchestrated pre-shot routines, was completely absent when she went to make her putting stroke. When you don't have a routine, which starts from the moment you crouch behind the ball to the moment you finish your stroke, you're lost. Those are the exact words Phil Mickelson used when we worked with him last fall: "I'm lost." A routine --the same type of structure you give your "important" full-swing shots--is critical for putting success. Without structure, your mind will race and you won't be comfortable.

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