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Holing Out
Tim Barter

The key ingredients for good 'holing out' are perfect alignment and a consistent target orientated pre-putt routine.

With the help of his good friend and performance psychologist Alan Fine, Ryder Cup hero Phillip Price makes for a great example of a player who has worked hard to establish a routine that allows him to act on auto-pilot out on the course, regardless of the pressure he might be under.

As a result, Phil is renowned as one of the best holers-out on tour, and while his style of stroke may a little unorthodox, every golfer can learn something from the routine that Phil repeats on every green, what-ever the situation.

The first stage is assessing the break of the putt and determining the line on which he wishes to start the ball rolling.

Phil is one of an increasing number of players who marks a line on his ball, which he takes great care in aiming down that starting line.

Phil never takes his eyes off the line to the hole. He is totally focused as he aims the putter-face before building his set-up around it.

While his feet may be slightly open to the line, the shoulders are square - vital for someone who trusts a pendulum style stroke. Phil favours a fairly upright putter, and even then it sits fractionally up on its toe, the shaft as near-vertical as a standard putter can be.

From the moment Phil first gets down behind the ball, he is following a strict pattern of behavior, which, if it were timed, would vary by no more than a second or so before he is ready to hit the putt. That routine is the key to dealing with pressure.

From six feet and in, the fact is that you could hit the ball perhaps 50% too hard and still hole the putt - so long as your alignment is perfect. The guiding lines that Phil has drawn on the ball and on his putter guarantee that he has this element taken care of. Joining them up gets the putter-face absolutely square to the line on which he wants to start the ball rolling; what's more, knowing that he is correctly aligned does wonders for his confidence.

I should add at this point that Phil's grip is unique - it's known lovingly on tour as the 'grappling hook'. Just look at how high the club runs through both palms. This has the effect of keeping the hands and wrists very passive within a stroke that is clearly controlled by the guiding unit of the arms and shoulders.

When you practice, use Phil's example as a model on which to develop your own routine - and stick with it. Focus on starting the ball on your chosen line to the hole.

It works.

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