Recently I watched a twelve year old junior player in a tourney miss putt after putt from 4-6 feet. One thing that occurred to me as I was watching his mishaps; he never went to either side of the putt to get a good look at the break and his routine was sporadic at best. When I watch excellent junior putters I have always noticed the meticulous nature that these juniors gage their putts. The junior who missed his putts got down behind the ball, he used a line on his ball for lineup, and he took some practice strokes prior to putting, but inevitably he could not get the ball to drop. I watched him putt for pars, birdies and even an eagle hardly any of which dropped. So why does this happen? Is it lack of practice? Nerves? – In my personal opinion it’s not lack of practice, but rather lack of focused practice that is the difference in the excellent putters and the average putters.
There is a young junior player where my boys take TPI who is so focused in his practice that I typically stand there in awe just watching him in silence. When this young man, named Dylan, is working on his putting he doesn’t just drop down 5 balls and putt at the same hole. Dylan works with one ball at a time from varying distances. The thing that I find so amazing about this young man in watching him is that every putt is calculated. He treats every practice putt just as if he were putting the ball to win the masters. Dylan goes to both sides of the hole, finds the fall line, goes through his routine on every single putt. Dylan not only does this on the putting green but I have seen him in every facet of the game doing this, on the range hitting full irons with alignment rods, and chipping to specific spots. Dylan is not an overly large young man, he does not seem to posses a ridiculous amount of raw talent, but he has something that most juniors do not – focused practice! Alone in his work ethic I have watched him over and over working and gaining my respect every time I see him.
So how do we get our juniors to buy into focused practice? How do we get them to understand that you can’t just bang around putts and expect to become consistent and better? The twelve year old that missed putts over and over never changed during the round. Although he knows and has been taught to examine his putts thoroughly from both sides of the hole, to watch his competitor’s putts intently to see how the ball reacts and to go through his routine on every putt exactly the same, he never really did that. He missed and he missed and he missed putts that he routinely makes when banging the ball around but he never once went back to his foundation of routine. Einstein once said, ” The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. What say You? How do we get juniors to buy into focused practice? How do we get juniors to deal with stress through knowing and performing their routine on every shot? I’m looking for answers.