I have changed putters and my stance and done everything under the sun to improve my putting when I have reached these stages, ‘and neglected the one thing which was responsible for the damage, and that was to loosen up, hold myself flabby and limp, and putt so that my muscles were as loose and free as they were intended to be.
I had at one time eleven putters in my locker. I know every form and make of putter intimately. I have had experience and plenty of it, and I sincerely trust no golfer will ever have to go through the bitter experience I have been through to learn to putt. When I have a critical putt to hole now I laugh to myself to think how such a putt has worried me in the days gone by. I know now, but I didn’t then.
As I say, my idea in putting for many years was that if I “set” every muscle in my body rigidly and allowed only my wrists or arms, as the case might be, to move, and to so “set” my-self that they could move only in a certain defined way, I could reduce the art of putting down to an exact science.
The principle involved was to so hold and swing the club that it would move as though it were moving along a groove, and it would be bound to send the ball upon the correct line.
The fallacy of such a theory was not so apparent, because after an hour or two of practice I could putt with great accuracy. I had so trained my muscles that they would act only in a well-defined manner and I would putt well for a few days, sometimes for a week or two at a time, but once I lost the gage of the shot I was as helpless as a baby. I would at such times try every possible stance and angle, and for ‘years I could not seem to get out of my head that I was not “slicing” the ball, while every one would insist that I was I would practice to overcome it and my friends would tell me I had succeeded.
By constant and careful attention I would putt and putt, and gradually get to a point where I would be able to hole the ball regularly from good distances, and as my confidence came I would putt more and more freely, and naturally would relax more and more as my confidence grew and my putting improved.