When the pressure is on, I’ve found spot putting to be especially effective. In fact, two of the great pressure putters of all time, Dave Stockton and Jack Nicklaus, employ the spot technique.
One of the main benefits of spot putting is that it helps you maintain your putting posture throughout the stroke. Most golfers tend to rise up out of their posture prematurely, usually because they’re anxious to see the results of their efforts. Rising up from your stance usually forces a stroke that strays off-line and sends the ball away from the intended target.
Spot putting can help you beat this flaw and improve the quality of your putts. Try this: Choose a spot on the green an inch or two in front of your ball and directly on the line you’ve chosen to roll your putt. I typically look for an unusual blade of grass or a colored spot on the putting surface. When you’re set to putt the ball, focus your eyes on your chosen spot—not your golf ball. Now, make your stroke with the goal of rolling the ball right over the spot. Remember, don’t rise up from your putting posture until your putterface has passed your spot.
Spot putting effectively takes the hole out of your mind, which typically translates into a smoother stroke. Also, by focusing on the spot rather than the ball, you’ll tend to properly accelerate the putterhead down your intended line, which will result in more putts finding the hole.
Professional golf instructor Barry Goldstein is the director of golf at Polar Shot Golf Center in Johnson City, N.Y. He also instructs at the Coral Springs Golf Range in Coral Springs, Fla.