Dear Friends,


Summer is in its last month, and the tour majors are over with some

surprising results. With the coolness of fall not too far ahead, what can

you do to get ready to enjoy the best days of the year for golf?


The subjects of this newsletter are all related to what we saw in the

majors and the time of year. 1) Set-up routine - getting you through hard

times.  2) The perils of the forward press and the woes of Tiger in 2003.

3) The most important shot in golf - it depends!



1) Set-up routine - getting you through hard times


If you have had a good summer of play, stop reading here. Just skip to the

next point and keep doing what you are doing. If you have had ups and

downs, then read on.


When most of us have a few bad swings or bad holes, we begin to change

things in our swings. Sometimes we make a few better swings, but

inevitably things seem to get worse. Finally, often quite strangely as a

kind of cruel joke, we give up on the round, stop making any real effort,

and the ball starts flying long and true again after it is too late.

What's going on?


If you have a swing that works on the practice tee and have a set-up

routine for all your swings, including putting-especially putting-then you

should focus on the routine and forget about the results. This is what

sometimes happens at the end of a bad round by accident when we mentally

throw in the towel. We stop thinking and trying to fix things. We take all

the pressure off ourselves. We go back to the swing we have grooved on the

practice tee.


The lesson is easy to say but hard to do, especially under pressure, but

it works. Focus on going through your normal routine step by step, not

swing gimmicks or results. Think in the present tense just about the

routine, not about past swings or future results, even the result of the

shot you are currently making! This will get you through rough times. And

when things are going well, it will keep the good things going.


The ups and downs and recoveries of Mike Weir this year in his great win

at Augusta and his not so great finish at the PGA illustrate perfectly. At

Augusta all his swings looked alike because his routine was almost exactly

the same each time. The consistent tempo throughout all four rounds was

remarkable. He had it going for three rounds at the PGA, but then had 5

bogies in a row on the first five holes of the last round, dropped from -1

to +4, and was out of it. But he stuck with his routine, and at least

stopped the bleeding, playing the rest of the round even par. It is not a

dramatic story of a great comeback and was certainly very disappointing

for him, but it was not the total disaster that seemed to be on the way,

like Vijay Singh's 79.


The point for us is this. If you have a routine and a swing or stroke that

works in practice, you can get back to it if you simply stick to your

routine and think about nothing but that.



2) The perils of the forward press and the woes of Tiger in 2003


Four tour wins are a career that most would envy, and Tiger won four times

in 2003 (as of this writing). But no majors and a very bad performance at

the PGA fell far short of Tiger standards. Dr. Putt was able to watch all

of the coverage of the early rounds of the PGA on TNT, which was pretty

much the Tiger show. Even though that was not fair to other players who

were playing better, it was interesting because it allowed us to study a

struggling Tiger, a Tiger who played early on Sunday and who played all

four rounds over par.


Three observations. The first one has to do with his putting technique,

and the second has to do with all the talk of late about what is wrong

with Tiger. Dr. Putt will save the third observation for the next section

of this newsletter.


Tiger has a set putting routine to which he is quite faithful.


See the letter on Tiger's routine at "Dear Dr. Putt" at

http://www.drputt.com/deardrputt/putting-routine2-Tiger.php


But if you have watched closely over the years, he sometimes adds a

forward press with his hands to trigger the backswing. It is not

consistently the same, even for the same length putts. When this press is

small and not noticeable, Tiger seems to be at his best. When it is

biggest, he seems to be putting his worst. The press seems to be opening

up his putter face a bit. Consequently, his misses seem to be more often

to the right.


The lesson for us is that any independent action with the hands is a

dangerous thing in putting-even for Tiger. A forward press can undo all

the careful alignment we have worked so hard to create.


So find some other key to begin the stroke! For Dr. Putt it is rotating the

head and eyes back from the hole to the point of focus on the green just

behind the ball and saying the word "focus" in his mind. Then the

shoulders start tilting or rocking with the hands doing nothing but going

along for the ride.


Second observation on Tiger--what's wrong? The answer the commentators

give is that he is fighting his swing and seems to have lost confidence in

it. Tiger says that he is having a hard time getting the body to move in

sync with his arms and shoulders. Dr. Putt will not add to the cacophony

of unsolicited advice for Tiger. He is paying a lot of people a lot of

money for that already! Maybe he should just relax, have a little more fun

while playing, and not try to force things to happen on every swing,

adding correction to correction. Oops, guess Dr. Putt did offer advice!

 


3) The most important shot in golf - it depends!


Back to Tiger to illustrate this point. Tiger scored far better in the PGA

than he struck the ball. Missing fairways, missing greens, uncontrollable

flying wedges, he somehow managed to keep it no worse than 74. Tiger was

the personification of grinding it out. All his stats were far worse than

the field except putting, where he was twelfth. Even that was a little

misleading because he had so many one putts after a chip, or rather a blast

from that wire-like eight inch rough.


Lesson? Putting can save you from disasters, but it is not always the most

important shot in golf. It depends on the course and it depends on the

ultimate goal. (Dr. Putt always tells his students that the universal

answer to most questions is "it depends.")


Most of the time on courses most of us play, chipping and putting are the

keys to good scores. Why? Because we miss most fairways (like Tiger did in

the PGA) and most greens (like Tiger did again). Most of us would be very

happy with  scores between 72 and 74! For us, preventing disasters results

in a good round. Obviously, Tiger wants more than that for what he would

consider a good round.


Nevertheless, on the PGA tour most weeks, chipping and putting are the

keys because missing a few extra fairways are no big deal if the player

has a shot to the green. But when one has a rough of 6 to 8 inches,

missing a fairway almost always costs a stroke. So under those conditions,

hitting fairways is the most important thing, assuming that one putts

reasonably well. To put it another way, players on courses with brutal

roughs are far more likely to lose a stroke by missing the fairway than by

three putting.




Remember to check the "Dear Dr. Putt web site" for all your putting

questions - a search feature allows you to look up almost any subject you

like.


Go to http://www.drputt.com/deardrputt/deardrputt.php


Dr. Putt has now indexed past newsletters, so check back there if you

missed one. They will also come up using the search feature. They are

linked at the bottom of the "Dear Dr. Putt" Webpage. Or you can go to them

directly at


http://www.drputt.com/Newsletters/


This summer has brought a lot of great questions from many of you and some

really moving thank-you notes. Many are discovering that knowing where you

are aiming your putts and then being able to actually hit them in that

direction transforms putting into a much more creative and satisfying

experience. As most of you know, the EOB system really does work!


Go to http://www.drputt.com/overview.php


Dr. Putt wishes you great playing weather in the fall weeks to come.


Warmest regards,

Dr. Putt