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Friday, April 13, 2012

Brad Faxon's Putting Wisdom

Eight-time PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon shared his thoughts on putting with an eager audience of PGA club professionals at the Spring Education Forum presented by the Metropolitan Section of the PGA this week. In a golf world awash in mechanics and digital diagnostics, his words were refreshing, to say the least.

photo courtesy of the Met PGA

"Players spend too much time working on their stroke and not enough time hitting the ball into the hole," Faxon said at the beginning of his conversation with NBC's Jimmy Roberts.

Faxon went on to say that there aren't really many absolute fundamentals in putting. "Everyone grips differently, especially these days. Where you aim your feet, where your eyes are over the ball, do your shoulders have to be square? Not necessarily. You don't even have to hold your head still," Faxon said as he talked about the many variables he's seen among the great putters he's observed.

There are some things he recommends, though, and they're hard to dispute. "You can have the best stroke in the world, but you'll never be a great putter unless you have confidence," he said. "You have to look at the putt and know you're going to make it." He adds, "You can't be afraid to miss. As long as I give the ball a chance to go in by executing well, I know I will make a lot of putts."

Setting the mental aspect aside for a moment, Faxon talked about keeping his arms soft when he putts. Many players, myself included, try to putt with soft hands, but Faxon points out that your arms need to be relaxed, too, if you want to take tension out of your stroke. You need to hold the putter just firmly enough to keep it from twisting--maybe a three on a scale of ten.

When it comes to practice, he stressed the importance of working on your pre-shot routine as well as your stroke. His routine, like that of all good players, doesn't vary, nor does it take all day. "I start lining up my putt as soon as I walk on the green," he says. "Subconsciously, I know which general direction it's going to go. I look at the putt from both sides of the hole, then put my ball down with the center line on the path I want it to follow. I visualize the curve of the line."

"Once I have my read, I don't waste time," Faxon continued. "I walk up to the ball from behind, take a practice stroke to feel the length before I take my stance, put down the putter face, take one look at the hole, and go."

During his PGA career, Faxon was known as one of the best putters in the game. He led the PGA Tour in Putting Average in 1996, 1999, and 2000, the year when he set a single-season record with an astounding 1.704 putts/greens in regulation. It was great to hear him say something I've always believed: "Putting should be the easiest part of your game."

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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