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The Key to Long Putts

Thumbnail Drill

The great British champion Henry Cotton made this drill popular: Watch one of your thumbnails as you putt. He found that focusing on something closer to his eyes than the clubhead, which has a tendency to wobble distractingly, made the stroke easier to control. To create a stronger visual image, he actually painted one of his thumbnails with his wife’s nail varnish (it doesn’t matter which thumbnail).

This technique is also great for getting a handle on distance. With repetition, you begin to associate a thumbnail moving two inches back and two inches through with a certain distance and five inches back and through with another distance. Under pressure in a round, when your natural sense of feel for distance sometimes deserts you, this can be a lifesaver.

It’s also useful for sizing up the speed of the greens before a round at an unfamiliar course. If a two-inch thumb stroke rolls the ball more than what you’re accustomed to, you can make that adjustment.

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