With his sights set firmly on the FedEx St. Jude Championship this week, Sam Ryder knows what it takes to make it in these playoffs: putting. Every golfer knows that precision with the flat club makes or breaks a round, but not every amateur knows which drills to focus on most to make short game wins.
One area where the pro has made massive improvements over the past year is putting. Just look at some of its key statistical areas year-on-year.
Sam Ryder in 2021-22
79th in SG: putting
48th in putting average
73rd in putts per round
Sam Ryder in 2022-23
8th in SG: putting
4th in putting average
10th place in putts per round
Sticking to the putting surface has helped Ryder go from a 108th place finish in last season’s FedEx Cup to his current 63rd place finish this week.
Golf instructor Brendon Elliott has known Ryder since he was in high school. Given that type of relationship, Elliott recently asked Ryder to share some thoughts on his improvement on the greens this year.
“Technically I’ve stayed the same for the most part,” says Ryder. “One change I’ve made, however, is floating the putter. I’ve done this in the past depending on the type of turf we play on. When I float the putter, I clean up the takeaway of my shot.
“There are no sudden changes in tension in my hands and arms, so I can keep my pace consistent. This also helps reduce large changes in the acceleration or deceleration of my shot. Basically, hovering helps me with speed control.”
In addition to Ryder floating his putter, Elliott also asked him for three other tips for conquering the greens. Check out what he had to say below.
Sam Ryder’s top 3 putting exercises
One of the biggest factors in golf success is the mental component. This is something Ryder spoke to Elliott about, saying that confidence on the greens is the biggest influencer on scorecards.
“Mentally, I’ve focused on committing to my speed and line and then trying to ‘unblock’ as much as possible,” Ryder said. “I’ve done the technical work and developed confidence in my shot and putter skills, so I’m trying to commit and have faith in what I’m doing.”
To gain that level of confidence, Ryder recommends trying these putting exercises.
1. Block technical exercise at the mirror
A fundamentally solid and consistent setup was one of Ryder’s key improvements in putting.
In this exercise, Ryder finds a relatively straight 5-foot hole and places the mirror in the center of the hole. The eye line mirror he uses also has a shoulder attachment, so he’s basically going through his routine, making sure his left eye is over the ball and his shoulders are straight.
The mirror also features places to place tees as goals, allowing him to ensure he always hits a solid shot.
2. “Power” exercise
In this exercise, you hit 50 putts from three to twelve feet away.
First, place five balls around a hole one meter apart and try to shape each one of them.
Next, place five balls around a hole 12 feet away and try to shape each of them.
Then try five putts from a distance of one meter and five from a distance of three meters… and so on.
Try to switch holes every time you change distance.
Ryder says, “This drill enables me to see putts going in. I feel very successful after finishing them. Keep track of how many putts you make and you can compete against yourself or friends for the highest possible score.”
3. Speed drill
Place two coins 2.5 feet apart. Then place tees at 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 feet from the coins.
Start at 15 feet, hit a putt and finish between the two coins. Then go to 20 feet and try to do the same. Then 25 feet… and so on.
If you can’t get the ball to land between the coins, start over until you can traverse the ladder without missing. You can do this exercise uphill and downhill.
For golf beginners, you can try to stop a ball between the coins at each length instead of trying to hit them one by one. Speed is also a crucial skill.
1. Block the technical exercise on the mirror. 2. Do the “power” exercise. 3. Speed up the exercise
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