Visualisation: it’s hard to hit a good putt unless you can see it in your imagination first.
If you can’t see a good putt in your imagination, you’ll probably find it very difficult to create a putt that travels on the right line at the appropriate pace and disappears into the hole.
A clear image of what you want the ball to do helps create a ‘map of movement’ for your body to follow.
If you draw a line on your ball and you see a line of the path the ball will travel to the hole in your mind’s eye, the chances are that the line you see will be an extension of the line on your ball.
That line you see will be a very, very thin one. This tells your brain you have to roll your ball along that thin line. Think of it like walking along a tightrope. How comfortable, confident or relaxed would you be about that?
For years, golfers have used a builder’s chalk line as a training aid and focused their attention on rolling their ball along that incredibly thin line, like Justin Rose here. If the ball falls off that line, even if it ends up in the hole, that would be regarded as a failure as the task was to keep the ball on the chalk line. Some might say that golf is a game of precision and practising to be extremely precise is definitely the way forward.
If it works for you then carry on. However, if it doesn’t we suggest you use two chalk lines.
One on the left edge of the hole and one 4.25 inches directly opposite on the right edge of the hole. You can also put your alignment rods to good use here to create the same visual aid.
Suddenly your line has gone from being as thin as a razor’s edge to as wide as the hole itself. What would be easier, putting along the tightrope, or putting down a 4.25-inch-wide channel? You might find it helpful to think of it as a gutter.
Focusing on the thin line puts your attention almost entirely on line, whereas giving yourself the entire width of the hole, frees up your mind and your muscles and allows you to focus on pace.
Have you ever visualised the line being as wide as the hole? Neither had 99 percent of our students but once they started to see that much wider, thicker line, they were amazed at how easy it is to hole putts and you will be too.
While we’re on the subject of width or thickness of line, if that line had a colour, what colour would it be? Initially, most people struggle to see a line that is at least as wide as the hole. Why? Quite simply because they have never looked for it before.
Think of your favourite colour or a colour that would stand out against the green of the putting surface. Try closing your eyes and experimenting with different colours in your imagination. You will soon find one that stands out vividly against the green.
Your golf ball, at 1.68 inches in diameter doesn’t even take up half the width of that newly introduced 4.25 inch line.
That being the case, there is actually room for at least two golf balls to fit into the hole.
In fact, there is actually enough room for three golf balls, if they are hit on different lines at different paces.
As the line changes according to the pace you hit your putt, so does your entry point.
For example, if you take the high line with less pace and a lot of break, your entry point is going to be on the right side of the hole on a right-to-left putt. The more break or borrow you allow for, the more your entry point moves from the centre of the hole. This is something you will have to consider when visualising what the ball has to do in order to allow gravity to do its thing and pull your ball into the hole.
One final thought: Always ensure the line and pace you visualise actually makes it as far as the hole. This may sound like we’re stating the obvious but experience tells us that even some of the best players in the world don’t actually visualise the ball or line disappearing into the hole.