Monday, October 7, 2013

Putting With Confidence

Mark Ellis, disc golf pro / wizard / promoter,  got me intrigued enough with this video to try his routine.  Very simple: 30 days in a row, 2 sessions of 15 minutes. 

Put from where you make it.

Any style of putting you want - good mechanics are a plus, but basically whatever putt you want to improve.

The people that have done it swear by it. He swears by it.

I am already practicing almost everyday anyways - might as well try a formal routine. I'm using the straddle position with a pitch putt, which I've blogged about here.

Mark's thoughts on putting in wind during your practice session:
... my thinking is to move as close as is needed to make your putts. :) You don't have to make ALL your putts to improve your skills and with them your confidence. Everybody misses some putts. If you make most of your close putts you can live with it, even in competition against fine players.

Putting is not like free throws in basketball where the conditions are always the same. We face different conditions on every putt: distance, wind, obstacles, playing surface, risk past the basket, etc. So practice needs to be constantly changing as well. If the conditions make putting harder then move close enough so you can hit solid metal consistently and don't move farther away until your success justifies it.

Some players have special weaknesses. For years I couldn't straddle putt well. Well, more candidly, I sucked. So when I went through this program, which I have done several times through the years, I needed to move closer for straddles. Through practice I overcame my troubles with straddles. Now I straddle any time it is the most logical choice and my odds are as good as with staggered putts.

Really a straddle is no harder than a stagger. It is just different and mostly a mental thing. Putting in the wind IS much harder than dead air. The margin of error is smaller. The penalty for missing is greater. Putting in strong and/or swirling and/or gusting winds can be brutal. All the more reason to cement your skills and confidence from short range, where you need it most.

To all of you in the program I wish you good motivation. Putting woes can be overcome with diligence. The program is not a short term fix, it is a long term benefit.

Day 1: (10/7/2013)
Round 1: Started at 10' - felt good, not missing. Felt good from 15-18' - rare misses maybe 2 out in 10 minutes. Noticed that if I didn't do the routine just right, I'd often put the disc a bit low/high/side - but still in. Pushed out to 20' was hitting 2 out of 3 discs - misses were in the front of the basket, so I moved back in to 15' and finished making all of them.
Break: Felt really good to stop putting! Really does take a bunch of concentration to putt.
Round 2: Kind of hard to get my mind to focus after about 5 minutes of putting. Started missing what felt like a gimme 15' shot when my mind wandered or I would see somebody walk by. Finished on a different pin that is on slight hill. Felt good to end with every disc in the chains.

Day 2: (10/8/2013)
Round 1: Started out very strong to 20'. Think I only missed 1x until I pushed out to 24'. Was missing 1 of 3 from 24'... back to 20' and finished feeling a little wobbly.
Break: Threw some mid-range (250-275') and a ended up hyzering my Surge into deep grass. Took too long to find, added frustration. Saw the parks guys out mowing - thank god, it's a jungle out there.
Round 2: Failed to get much concentration back after losing/finding disc. Finally got dialed at 20' again, but only from 2 of 3 stations. Definitely had a mental block at one of the stations for some reason... ended well, draining all my last shots from 20.

Note: I have formalized my pre-putt ritual and then say "Drain it." in my head which is the trigger for the release. Definitely putting very strong from 7 steps (20-21') but 8 steps (24-25') is not automatic by any means.

Day 3: (10/9/2013)
Round 1: 15 minutes at Johnny Roberts
Break: Threw a full round with my brother. Putted pretty poorly.
Round 2: Ran out to Paco to do a full 30 minutes, did 15... Ran into Dylan, who wanted to throw the front 9. Putted very strong. Approach shots were best ever. Also threw 2 big (400+' drives that stayed up seemingly forever).

Day 4: (10/10/2013)
Round 1: Started very strong, struggling at 25'
Break: Mellow approach annies. Feeling consistent at 100'.
Round 2: Felt a little wobbly and then went to shit. Ended very exhausted.

Day 5: (10/11/2013)
Round 1: Got in a pretty good zone. Went a very long time without missing. 8 steps out (~24') still a tough distance.
Break: Approach shots up hill and some mid-range hyzer for 10 minutes. Forehand is a disaster from >100'.
Round 2: Felt a little wobbly coming back to putting, got in a strong zone for about 5 minutes, hitting 3/3 from 24' a few times in a row. Then it was much less consistent. Side-hill shots worked me pretty good.

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