It never came home to me that it was the relaxing of my painstaking rigid method of playing which was causing my improvement and not the perfecting of my method as I then believed it to be.
I would try, and did try, for months at a time, the stance and style I saw the different professionals use whose style appealed to me. I would talk to them and attempt to analyze the secret of their success, and it would seem to me that I had at last found the real secret because after much painstaking effort I would begin to putt well.
In every case, as I look back upon it, the success of the scheme was due solely to the fact that constant practice was making me swing more freely and naturally and consequently relaxing my muscles more and more.
I am satisfied that I have nailed the really important secret of good putting, and that is to eliminate every item, from the moment I walk up to my putt, which in the slightest degree has a tendency to make me “set” my muscles in any way. For the past two years I have putted consistently and well, in spite of the fact that I have had no time for practice.
I have tried standing in the address at various angles, sometimes putting off the right foot, sometimes off the left foot, and sometimes standing square, the only idea in my mind being that of holding myself as loosely and flabbily as I could and keep my balance, and it works equally well at any angle.
I have had critical putts to hole, and down they went with delightful frequency. The approach putts would invariably be closer than anything I had ever done before with any regularity. I never did “set” my muscles much in the other shots, and for years my game at other parts totally outclassed any-thing I could do with the putter.
Many players with whom I have played have remark&d at the way my other shots outclassed my putting. In justice to myself I can say that I putted as badly at times in friendly rounds as I have ever done in matches. I have played against good golfers, and beaten them, who have thought I was a good putter and had plenty of “nerve.”