Mangum's PuttingZone Newsletter
5 , 2002
I hope this
finds you well during the holiday season. It's been a very hectic
summer and fall. Inside this issue --
The Final Stage
of the PGA Tour Q-School is currently underway in La Quinta, California.
The Field of 171 contestants (reduced to 170 by the medical withdrawal
of John Riegger) began the six-round, 108-hole contest Dec. 4, and
the competition for the top 35 spots plus ties continues thru Monday,
Dec. 9. The PuttingZone is closely following the action with a special
page that reports not only on the PGA Tour, but also on the Q-Schools
for Tour Golf around the world. Other notable Tour Q-Schools include
the European Tour, the LPGA, the Champions Tour, and the Austrtalasian
The PGA Tour
Q-School coverage includes the Leaderboard, historic stories of Q-Schools
past, and daily postings of special-focus news items from the world
press. Interested specifically in the Canadian players? the Aussies?
The PZ has the info daily. Click
to see the full World Q-School Report.
has been fortunate to enlist the help of noted golf psychologists
Dr Patrick Cohn and Dr Tony Piparo to teach us all some important
approaches to putting excellence. Both consented to offer their views
on the Short Putt and its special problems. If you have a specific
issue you would like to see addressed, drop
me a line and I'll see what I can do. With any luck, these two
great teachers will make regular contributions to the PuttingZone.
top sports psychologist for pro golfers and head of Peak
Performance Sports in
has agreed to help visitors to the PuttingZone by offering his observations
and suggestions about putting. Dr Cohn, along with Dr Robert Winters,
Mental Art of Putting (Diamond Comms. 1995),
and most recently has written Going
Performance Golf: How Good Golfers Become Great Ones.
Dr Cohn is unquestionably one of a very select few golf psychologists
who have made a special study of putting problems, and his book on
this subject is far and away superior to anything else ever written
on putting psychology. In this exclusive
PZ article, Dr Cohn discusses the unique problems of short putts.
In the future, it is hoped that Dr Cohn will offer his views on other
subjects as well.
Q: "Why do some players struggle
with short putts and what is your approach to teaching players to
A: From a mental game perspective,
I think players struggle with short putts (3-4 feet) because they
put extra pressure on themselves to make them. These are the putts
that players expect to make. "Everyone makes short putts, it
would be awful if I missed this one" a player may feel or say
to him or herself standing over the putt. It is this extra pressure
that a golfer puts on himself and thus a "result focus"
about the potential for missing that creates problems. In addition,
some players are afraid to embarrass themselves for missing a short
putt, which causes too much trying and tension in the stroke. After
players miss a couple of short putts in a row, they get the "I-can't-make-the-short-ones
syndrome" and thus talk themselves into thinking they will miss
As a mental game coach, I try to get players to first understand
what mental breakdown they are committing. Are you trying too hard,
worrying about missing, embarrassed to miss, or just don't think you
are a poor short putt putter? With this information, I am better able
to deal with the specific challenge of the player.
With that said, there are a few things you can do to help you make
short putts. First, don't label the putt as a "short putt"
and treat it differently than a 12 foot putt, for example. The bottom
line (or what I call the common denominator) in putting is that
you have to hit your line with the right pace -- and some players
forget about this basic principle.
Second, you don't "have to" make it. Even the pros miss
short putts once in a while. When worrying about making, you are too
result focused. Keep your focus on the process
of hitting a solid putt on your line that you selected.
Third, don't baby the putt into the hole and
try to guide it. Give up control to your hand-eye coordination.
You already know how to stroke a putt on line and you have trust that
you can do just that. See the target (maybe right edge for example)
and allow your body to start the ball on that spot. Feel it into the
hole instead of trying to make a good "stroke."
Fourth, the past is over with. Let go of past
missed putts. Every putt is a new putt and has to be treated
as such. You have to treat every putt as if it's the first putt of
the day -- with confidence and optimism that you will hit it on line.
Take the same amount of time -- not more or less -- that your normal
If you have any more questions for Dr. Cohn, send him an email at
like Dr Cohn, is one of the very few sports psychologist to concentrate
Winner of the
prestigious American Psychological Association Award for his dissertation
on the Effects of Chronic Fitness on Putting, Dr Piparo has attracted
a wide following with his recent book with optometrist Dr Steve Kaluzne,
the Art and Science of Putting: Training the Eyes, Mind and Body (Sports
Performance Centers of Am. 1999). Dr
Piparo has studied the physiology of putting extensively (with a Masters
in Kinesiology to complement his Doctorate in Sports Pyschology),
and combines this knowledge with his vast understanding of sports
psychology and his experience of over twenty years teaching elite
golfers. His 1Putt Golf School is located here in North Carolina.
"Why do some players struggle with short putts and what is your approach
to teaching players to make them?"
Probably the missed shot that devastates golfers the most is the short
putt. Miss a 3- or 4-footer and not only do you lose your confidence
on all short putts the rest of the round, but it's so easy to become
completely frustrated that you lose you focus on all shots. While
missing short putts is cause by a break down in mechanics, working
on your mechanics in practice will not necessarily eliminate the problem.
Research shows that eye movement causes the
mechanical breakdown on short putts, or any putt for that matter.
How do you eliminate eye movement? To keep your eyes from moving you
must understand what causes eye movement. There are two
reasons. The first is peripheral vision.
Peripheral vision is a survival skill and is very sensitive to movement
within the peripheral field. For example, if you are driving your
car and catch movement out of the corner of your eye, your head turns
so that you can better see the movement to determine if it presents
some sort of danger. Unfortunately, your peripheral vision can't discriminate
between dangerous and non-dangerous movements. So unless you deliberately
keep your eyes focused, your eyes move automatically as soon as your
peripheral vision observes any kind of movement. So you must consciously
keep your eyes from moving.
The second reason for eye movement is your central
vision. Central or focusing vision is tied directly to your
conscious mind. For example, if you're concerned about the accuracy
of your putting stroke, your conscious mind tells your eyes to follow
the movement of the putter to determine whether or not the movement
is correct. If you're concerned about whether or not the putt will
drop your eyes move to see if that happens. If your eyes move too
early, the path of your putting stroke may change and cause you to
pull or push the putt. Unfortunately, once golfers miss a short putt
they become concerned about their putting stroke and whether or not
the putt will drop and their eyes start moving like tuning forks.
The more important and more uncertain you perceive the outcome of
the putt, the more your eyes will want to move and the more difficulty
you will have in controlling them. So just trying to keep your eyes
on the ball may not prove effective.
To keep the eyes from moving, not only must
we visually focus on the ball, we must actively keep our minds occupied
with something other than mechanics, past missed putts, or concern
for the outcome of the present putt. There are a number of
techniques that work well. The one I find most effective is called
"Reading the Label".
Reading the Label
Here's how it works. Pick a spot in front of the ball on your target
line. Align the label to run along this line. When standing at address,
the label runs in the same direction as your target line. While at
address, bring your attention to the first letter of the label (for
example, the T in "Titleist"). As you begin your putting
stroke, start spelling Titleist with the same tempo and rhythm as
your putting stroke. If done correctly your putting stroke will be
completed long before you finish spelling the word. As you spell the
word, your eyes should focus on each letter as you say it. This forces
your eyes to stay focused on the ball. And because the conscious mind
can only complete one activity at a time, it cannot be concerned with
your putting stroke, past missed putts, or the outcome of this putt.
Your putting stroke will be completed from memory so there can be
no breakdown in mechanics. As you start sinking putts your confidence
soars decreasing any uncertainty about the outcome so it becomes easier
to keep your eyes from moving.
Now keeping your eyes quiet like this is a skill and requires discipline
and practice just like your putting mechanics. In fact, when you first
try this technique you may find you have no control over your eyes.
The best way to develop the necessary discipline and skill is to start
out with putts you feel fairly confident about making. Two-foot putts
that are flat and straight are fairly simple for most golfers so you
might want to start with these. When you can sink 10 2-foot putts
and you lose your awareness to the movement of your putter (you don't
see it moving) and you don't see the ball drop in the hole your focus
control is improving. Remember, you probably can already sink putts
in practice without worrying about eye movement, but your eye movement
may become more erratic and out of control when you play. So it's
necessary to work on your focus control in practice. After working
on 2-footers, then move out to 3-, 4- and 5-foots putts on a flat
straight surface until you can sink 10 of each in a row while deliberately
controlling your focus (Reading the label). Finally, using the same
process, work on downhill, uphill, and side-hill putts from 2-5 feet.
Now, this may sound like a lot of work. However, once you get accustomed
to controlling your visual and mental focus you will not miss many
short putts. And if you do, you will know the reason and know how
to correct the problem. And since you are already spending time practicing,
you might as well practice smart in addition to practicing hard. Eventually,
your focus control will be so strong that once you focus on the first
letter of the label your eyes will lock on instinctively and you won't
have to deliberately read the label. It will be done in your subconscious,
the same way that practice makes your putting mechanics instinctive
until you have to putt for dough.
NEW PZ TIPS
Salute the Dawn
TARGETING: Finger Your Target
Zeno's Lag Ladder
TECHNIQUE: The Rib Cage Crunch
a straight and level gaze is more important than whether the eyes
are positioned directly above the ball or slightly inside, and a reliable
way to get the gaze straight and level is to "salute the dawn"
with your saluting hand level with your pupils and then bend at address
lowering your head towards the ball until the ball "rises"
above the salute into vision like a dawning sun coming up over the
is essentially knowing how to "touch" the end-point of your
line of sight, and hence coordinates the arm-hand movement in the brain
with spatial awareness of the target location by dominant-eye directional
sense plus distance or depth judgment -- so putting to the target is
similar to "touching" the target.
Long putts that
cause concern about coming up too short often cause the golfer to blow
the ball too far past the hole, and a useful approach is to take a practice
stroke to a target merely halfway to the hole, then take another practice
stroke to a second target halfway between the first target and the hole,
and then make the real stroke not shorter than the second practice stroke
and with the same size increase in the stroke -- one big step halfway
there, then two halfsize steps the rest of the way.
In the backstroke,
don't let your descending rib cage get shoved forward by the midriff
and pelvis, as this twists the shoulderframe and throws the stroke path
curling inside on the way back -- instead, AIM the bottom of the rib
cage straight for the pelvis, and move the lead shoulder socket straight
down at the balls of your lead foot to keep the shoulderframe "rock"
within a straight vertical plane aimed parallel to the startline of
In this game for
two players, test your skills under pressure to sink a 15-footer to
strike out your opponent with the bases loaded, tying run on third,
and the count 3 and 2!
Thinking is Stinking!
but my advice to "use your brain" stands. A great deal of
the brain has nothing to do with that little voice we use to think with.
Using the brain to putt means "shut up and putt" -- not bothering
yourself with pointless thoughts, concerns, worries about the putt --
and the end result is your conscious awareness is empty except for the
moment itself in a clarity that allows your brain-body to perform at
its highest level.
Dr Roger Brooks at the University of
Lancaster, UK, has written a study of the mathematics of the shape
of the putting stroke. Based upon this study, Dr Brooks has created
Putting Trainer. The aid is based on the notion that a very good
pendulum stroke has the shoulders moving in an inclined plane and
the putterhead path straight-back and straight-through within that
inclined plane, but the path describes an elliptical arc as seen from
directly above. The Trueplane trainer uses a tilted sheet of plexiglass
along the puttline with a "smiley face" section of the inclined putt
path on the tilted sheet. Running the heel of the putter along the
red curve on the tilted plexiglass allows the golfer to feel and learn
a straight stroke.
Putting Arc is a similar training aid being distributed in the
US, based also on the notion that the natural stroke has an arcing
putterhead inside-square-inside trajectory above the ground. The Arc
is a long flat piece of wood to set on the green, with the near side
straight and parallel to the putt path and the far side curved in
a slight arc. The aid is used by securing the board to the green with
tee pegs and running the heel of the putter along the arc. Both the
Putting Arc and the Trueplane are using the same mathematics to define
the curve; the difference is that the Trueplane plexiglass sheet defines
the vertical dimension of the stroke as well.
The World Scientific Congress
on Golf recently held the 4th Congress at St Andrews, Scotland.
The Congresses take place each 4 years, and gather together a wide
array of golf science. This Congress included a few presentations
of note for putting, and these papers are available as part of the
WSCG publication that includes over 70 papers on golf science. The
papers relating to putting technique, with book chapter numbers:
10. A critical examination of motor control and transfer issues
in putting, M. Fairweather, C. Button and I. Rae
11. Experimental study of effects of distance, slope and break on
putting performance for active golfers, J.V. Carnahan
12. Is it a pendulum, is it a plane? – mathematical models of putting,
13. Putting alignment in golf : a laser based evaluation, A.D. Potts
and N.K. Roach
14. Eye dominance, visibility and putting performance, Y. Sugiyama.
, H. Nishizono, S. Takeshita and R. Yamada
15. Alignment variations among junior golfers, R.J. Leigh
16. The effects of outcome imagery in golf putting performance,
J.A. Taylor and D.F. Shaw
22. Performance and practice; elite women European tour golfers
during a pressure and non pressure putting simulation, K. Douglas
and K.R. Fox
24. Yielding to internal performance stress – the yips in golf,
K.M. Kingston, M. Madill and R. Mullen
47. An investigation into the effect of the roll of a ball using
the C-Groove putter, P.D. Hurrion and R.D. Hurrio
During the summer, I was invited to present a putting
clinic to the teaching staff at the David
Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Florida. This IMG facility
is the world's top golf academy for junior world golfers headed for
the pro circuit. Recent DLGA graduates include Charles Howell, Ty
Tryon, and David Gossett. The half-day clinic presented the main concepts
involved in the PuttingZone approach to optimal putting to a dozen
golf professionals of the DLGA staff. My thanks to Director Gary Gilchrist
and Assistant Director Tim Sheredy for the hospitality. For some of
the materials covered, see the PZ
PowerPoint presentation and the special page on Training
Junior Golfers from the point of view of physical and cognitive
INTERESTING ONLINE STORIES & RESOURCES
Recent stories of note:
PZ WEBSITE DEVELOPMENTS
Since the last
newsletter, these features have been added to the PZ Website:
Rack, featuring current putting stories in the print media.
section greatly expanded and still growing.
more sources for golf and putting stories, including a daily survey
of 4,000+ online newspapers and sources worldwide by Google.com
World Report, providing coverage of Q-School events in pro golf
tours around the world, from Japan and Australia to Latin America
Later, and cheers!
The Future of Putting Now -
Golf's most advanced and comprehensive putting instruction.
PS - tell a friend!
use the postcards...