May 2010

TIPS FROM A PRO - Target Putting vs. Spot Putting

Author: Pete Popovich | Photographer: Photography By Anne

In life, we often say there are two kinds of people: leaders vs. followers, Democrats vs. Republicans, Type A vs. Type B, etc. The game of golf is no exception, especially when it comes to putting. Golfers fall into one of two categories: target putter or a spot putter. What is the difference?

Target putters tend to be more creative and artistic in their thinking (Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, and Brad Faxon). They see things in abstract or curves and arcs. A modern description of this type of putter would be what most teachers refer to today as non-linear. A target putter sees the entire path from the ball all the way into the hole. This type of putter can, after deciphering the general break of the putt, look at the hole and tell you where the ball will enter the hole. For those of you looking to attempt this, imagine the hole as the face of a clock, 12 being the furthest point away from you and six being closest to you and so forth. Once you have your general direction of right to left break, or left to right break, you can look at the hole and decipher what “time” the ball would roll into the hole, e.g. four o’clock on a right to left breaking putt. Once this is determined, you would take your set up over the ball for general direction. When you have the general direction look at the “time” the ball will go in the hole to fine tune your aim. When you feel comfortable, make your stoke. Target putters can never say they were not ready to make their stroke, because they do not start the stroke until they feel comfortable over the ball and with their read of the balls path.

Spot putters putt to specific points on the ground: ball marks, right edge, left edge, etc, and tend to be more analytical in their thinking (Jack Nicklaus, Loren Roberts, Greg Norman). They see things in straight lines and points. A modern description of this type of putter would be what most teachers refer to today as linear. A spot putter finds the apex or highest point of the break and putts to that point. He looks at this spot and envisions a straight line from the ball to a point and aims for that point. Spot putters’ brains automatically calculate, without them consciously thinking about how hard they need to hit the ball to go over the point yet have enough speed to reach the hole. This is how most people are taught to putt, and it works great if you are a spot putter. However, if you are a target putter, it does you no good.

The way your brain is wired is what determines if you are a target putter or a spot putter. One way is not better than the other, and there have been many successful putters of each type throughout the years, as evidenced by our examples above. It is important to understand that you are either one or the other and cannot be both! It is innate to each of us much like our finger print. You are what you are. If you are a target putter and try to putt to points, you will do a tremendous disservice to your putting and actually make your game worse. If you are a target putter and have a playing partner who is a spot putter, reading each other’s putts will leave each of you scratching your heads wondering why neither of you are making putts. Continuously trying to putt a way that is contrary to the way your brain is wired will eventually lead to poor mechanics, more missed putts and growing frustration. Once it is determined which type of putter you are, you will be on your way to lower scores and a greater enjoyment of the game.

If you are having trouble determining what type of putter you are, target putter or spot putter, and would like to make more putts and enjoy the game more, or if you are tired of golf lessons that do not get you results, contact The Golf Performance Academy of the Low Country at (843) 338-6737. For more information, visit golfacademyhiltonhead.com. We guarantee results!

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