AS an older golfer you may no longer aspire to drive a golf ball as far as magnificent 150th Open Championship winner Cameron Smith – or even grow a credible mullet – but you could do far worse than attempting to emulate his at times genius putting skills.
The 28 year old Queenslander put in a truly remarkable performance at St Andrews to be the first Aussie golfer to lift the Claret Jug aloft in 29 years. His overall game is a picture but the putting skills he displayed during the tournament is already the stuff of legend.
So what stands out with his putting technique? It turns out it is all rather fluid.
Cameron Smith’s Putting
While Smith is one of the best putters in world golf, he isn’t always on song. Sometimes it does require a bit of work.
While he was red hot on the tricky St Andrews greens on the final round Sunday – and pretty bloody good as well in the first too rounds – his Saturday putting wasn’t all that much to write home about.
Following a second round 64 in which he holed over 200 feet of putts with just 28 strokes (same strokes Round 1), nothing was going in on Saturday. He hit 35 putts in a 73 that left him four strokes behind the leaders on Sunday.
“Yeah, [I] got a little bit impatient, I guess,” he said Later. “And a little bit frustrated.”
But Smith didn’t panic and following his round retreated to the Old Course practice putting green to work on getting his wayward golf balls to comply with his vision – and drop in the cup.
“I spent a little bit of time on the green last night,” he said Sunday. “Just really wanted to see a few putts go in. Yeah, it turned out it was a pretty good thing to do.”
So what does he practice? You can’t just practice standing there staring at the hole – though that sentiment is still such a big part of it.
Here are the secrets to Smith’s putting prowess.
Simple is good
Smith keeps it as simple as possible when working on the practice green. He explained to the media his main goal was getting into a consistent setup position.
“I practice with a [flat practice] mirror for probably 20 minutes a day,” he said. “And to be honest, that’s about it.”
While speed control on the greens is extremely important Smith doesn’t do much speed control while he’s at home. Instead, he focuses on the 10-15 footers and dials in his speed at the tournament site each week.
“I try and focus probably 10 to 15 feet and in and just seeing those putts drop,” he said. “When I get out here at the start of the week, I start hitting some more lag putts and just getting the speed right.”
The equator method
Smith marks a line on his ball but instead of using it in the traditional way pointing down the line of his intended direction he has the line parallel to the ground.
This is a visual cue that helps him hit up on the ball and generate topspin on his putts. If done correctly, Smith can see the ball rolling end over end.
Don’t be afraid to improvise
While Smith might be one of the world’s best putters it doesn’t mean he is overly technical.
While he may use the equator method with the line on his ball, he doesn’t always stick to it.
“I go in and out of lining it up and not,” Smith says. “It just depends on how I’m feeling. Some days I feel like the line is straight. Other days my eyes just aren’t quite right, so I’ll just line it up with the Titleist (logo) and freewheel it.”
It might be unconventional, but it’s hard to argue with the results.