It was great to see Graeme McDowell back in the winner’s circle on the European Tour with his victory at the Saudi International. Almost six years since his last Euro Tour success, the win puts the Northern Irishman back in the world’s top-50.
I did some work with G-Mac again about a year ago and it was clear after a long barren spell he had gotten away from many of the simple tools and techniques he had employed with me in the past.
By his own admission Graeme had gotten bogged down with technical thinking and away from the art of creating golf shots and more importantly creating putts.
In particular, a simple pre-shot breathing technique that frees him up to create putts had been lost in his quest for technical perfection.
It’s so easy when you are struggling with your game to disappear down a technique-driven rabbit hole.
I discussed some key ideas with Graeme about getting back to where he belongs at the top of the golfing tree.
And just three weeks later, he secured his fourth PGA Tour title with an immense putting display.
Here’s what he had to say in the aftermath:
“I’ve been working on some routine stuff and something small’s kind of clicked, something I used to do really well years ago. I became not so good at it and I’ve tried, I’ve been practising.
“It’s just a breathing thing and it’s really clicked with me. It’s helping me relax and it’s helping me just stand there and hit nice putts.”
When pushed for more detail, he added:
“Just before I take the putter head away, just a little bit of an out-breath to relax.
“It’s something I used to do very well way back when and it’s amazing how you instinctively get good at things and then you stop being good at things as well. That’s cleaned up my routines well on the greens.”
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It’s telling how instrumental this simple technique is to McDowell’s proficiency with the short stick. The Northern Irishman went on to finish last season 4th for Strokes Gained Putting and top of the pile for Total Putting.
And after a great start to 2020, having been outside of the top 250 in the world a year ago, McDowell is now back among the game’s elite with a run at the majors now firmly in his sights.
“My goal is to get back in the top-20 in the world and to be competing. I want another chance at a major championship on the back nine on a Sunday,” he said.
Lofty goals indeed, but you write off someone of McDowell’s ability – especially on the greens – at your own peril.
As golfers, we put so much of our attention into how the putter moves and so little into the way the mind works. But we need to embrace visualisation and creativity to allow the body to do its work.
Much of what I discussed with Graeme – including this breathing technique – is contained in the best-selling book I co-wrote, ‘The Lost Art of Putting’.
If you want to get a copy where you can learn this and more, head to the Lost Art of Golf website.
NCG's instruction editor. Terrible student so trying my hand at passing on some of the best advice I've never listened to. Member of Royal Troon. Favourite golfer is two-time major winner and hall of famer, Retief Goosen.