Suzann’s Secrets to Great Putting – By Suzann Pettersen
Suzann Pettersen made a seven-foot putt on the 18th hole of the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles to secure Europe’s incredible victory in the 2019 Solheim Cup, defeating Team USA by 14 ½ to 13 ½. Here is a rare look at her approach to holing any putt.
It’s very easy to put yourself out of the game, by thinking about the wrong stuff. My advice is to focus on what you can control: focus on your routine and mental approach. Going back to the 18th at Gleneagles, my go-to putting stroke thought was to take the clubhead path straight back, so it doesn’t drop inside, which has been my tendency. When it comes to putting, it’s all about matching speed and line. If that doesn’t match, then you’re not going to make the putt, so that is the key. How do you match that? Practise. You do your aim drills and speed drills and you have putts where you put yourself under pressure, for example, saying ‘This is a putt to win a major championship or to win the Solheim Cup.’ You try to putt yourself in those situations, but it’s very hard to simulate and the energy is never going to be the same. My key to doing well under pressure is to embrace it. Some people hate it and it’s too much pressure. Focusing on the right things makes you forget about the importance of the shot. For me, you start by focusing on reading the putt and seeing the contours of the green.
As you walk up to the green, before you’ve even got to the ball, you know almost exactly what the putt’s going to do, because that’s all about preparation.
The preparation that you do in your practise rounds is literally to map out the greens. You take notes and you know where to hit it to have the easiest putt. Coming to the Solheim, I don’t think I could have dropped the ball in a better place than where it landed after that wedge shot into the 18th green on Sunday. It was literally right on the fall line.
You need to think about course management and give yourself the easiest putt. Being above the hole is not giving yourself as easy a chance at holing a putt as a seven-footer on a straight line from below the hole: that is probably the easiest putt you can have. That’s how you get around the course and probably the biggest difference between an amateur and a professional golfer. You can manoeuvre yourself around the golf course to your strength and give yourself the best chance of pulling off good shots.
The more precise you are on your target, the easier it is to focus. For me, inside eight feet, I usually line-up the ball.
My procedure is to read the putt, put the ball down and aim wherever it is. For me, on the 18th on Sunday at Gleneagles, it was left of centre. I double check the line and perfectly aim where I want it to be. I’m more of a visual player. I don’t take too many practise strokes. I haven’t taken a practise stroke over the ball in years and years. So, for me, it’s feeling it and knowing what triggers I have to pull to make the ball come off on line and at the right speed. The rest is just a big blur and it just happens. As soon as that ball came off the clubface, I knew I had hit it exactly where I wanted it. It came out at the perfect pace and how I had read the putt, so at that point, you have done everything in your power and control to give it a good chance to go inside the hole.
Normally when I see a putt, I read it from the entry point back to the ball. I look at the cup as a clock with 12 different entrances. So for this putt, it was a 6.30 entry point. You go from that point and draw a blind line back to the ball. That’s how your visual creativeness comes in. I always find it easier, especially on shorter putts, to read it from the cup back, because it gives you a connection to the hole.
I line up straight putts inside eight-feet, but if it’s a massive breaker, like at least two feet, then there’s a lot more ‘feel’ involved and I think more about the speed than the line. I would take the line off and just go with feel. I’m way too much of a feel player, but I understand and have adapted a lot of the other methods.
For example, if you ask an AimPoint player, they would definitely go with the numbers and not with the heart. Like Stacy Lewis: when she misses a putt and she’s done everything by the book, she’s like: ‘How could that happen? It had to go in!’
Sometimes, your gut feel is the strongest part and if I had had to overcome that with mathematical answers, it wouldn’t feel right. I always go with my gut feeling. Sometimes, it’s a left edge putt, but you just think, I have to play it outside.
Decision making around whether to putt or chip from off the green is really a case of what you feel like at that moment. I think first of all, the lie dictates what you do.
If you walk up to the ball and it’s a great lie, you don’t have too much interference between you and the green and the ball’s not going to jump in the air and you can control how it starts rolling, then I would probably putt. Mid-handicappers should generally keep the ball as low to the ground as they can for as long as they can, but sometimes, if you really want to make a shot from off the green, sometimes you are better at chipping it because you can control it a lot better. You can control exactly how you want it to spin or release. It’s a lot to do with how you feel.
What’s the percentage shot? It’s the same as for the whole of golf… do you go for the green or back left if there’s a pin tucked back left? I was always calculating as I went along.
You make a lot of great putts over your career and it’s easy to say the last one was the best one, but I literally think that in my case, holing that putt was one of the best moments I’ve ever had on the golf course.
I actually had a putt on Saturday to halve the match. The pin was at the back and I missed it. It was such a bad putt and such a bad effort and I was so bummed with myself all night, I was just thinking, ‘How could you give it such a bad attempt?’ It was not even close. I was a bit upset with myself. So when I was given that chance on Sunday, I wasn’t going to mess up twice.July 15, 2020 5:58 pm