Dr Bob Winter is one of the leading mental coaches in the world. Winter is a mind game coach at DLGA and has helped golfers rise to the international stage.
He believes that some players’ downfall is focusing on their putting stroke rather than where the ball ends up.
The clue is in the title. ‘Mechanical’ putters are those who appear to be rigid and robotic in their putting action. So obsessed are they with achieving ‘perfect’ technique that their focus is geared purely on the stroke. And not on what happens to the ball or where it ends up!
A mechanical putter becomes so engaged with the engineering of the stroke that all natural movement is sacrificed.
One of the common by-products of mechanical putting is that a player can become so locked on their stroke that they become “ball-bound” at set-up. Therefore losing their instinct for speed, distance and indeed their awareness of the starting line.
This ball-fixation leads to many putts that appear to be hit solidly but without any seeming feel for the nature of the putt or the desired pace to the hole.
Mechanistic putters tend to be so concerned with technical perfection that many times after a putt has been hit pretty solidy , they chastise themselves for not hitting it exactly the way they wanted, or complain about a minor imperfection in their stroke.
In short, mechanical putters are never satisfied with their putting performance because they believe their mechanics can always be better.
They find little comfort in the logic that tells us even good putts that have been read and well struck can miss – in their universe, if they have executed a perfect stroke, the ball should find the hole.
The first thing that a mechanical putter needs to take on board is that the ball doesn’t care whether your stroke mechanics are perfect or not. It reacts only to the angle of the putter face and the direction of force that is executed upon it at the time of impact.
The mechanical putter has to realise that putting is not a science but part mechanics and human instinct. They must realise that the single most important thing about putting is not technique but a combination of factors.
Of course, there’s nothing at all wrong with working hard and seeking to improve the workings of your stroke – just remember that the pursuit of perfection only takes you so far. And from that point, imagination and emotional freedom must take over.
Specifically, to overcome mechanical putting, try the following exercise next time you’re on the putting green. Take 10 balls and find yourself a nice 10-footer. On the first ball, putt with a mind-set that is 100% focused on the mechanics of what you are doing. Try to hit the putt as perfectly as you can.
On the next one, relax this mechanical analysis just a tad and allow your instinct to play a part. The idea is that on each successive putt you let go until you are running purely on intuition. Look at the hole, and go.
In essence. On each putt you are thinking less about technique and striking the ball perfectly and more about the line and the speed of the putt. As you set up to about the sixth or seventh putt you will find freedom. This enables your motor skills to operate more naturally, and you will roll the putt with much greater confidence.