Don't putt badly. Putt like Baddeley!

The fastest, deadly stroke

Don't putt badly. Putt like Baddeley!

Baddeley is now a word synonymous with rolling the ball into the hole with phenomenal consistency as opposed to putting badly, which is something we all do from time to time.

Aaron Baddeley has been overshadowed in recent years by compatriate Adam Scott, and this does not look set to change following Scott's Masters triumph, but he is a golfer with tremendous talent and a unique putting regime.

He has three PGA Tour wins and lost out to Ernie Els in a playoff at the Sony Open in 2003 which proved to the watching world that the art of using the flat stick like a magic wand casting a spell need not be clouded by wasted seconds prowling the hole.

Doubt doesn’t need to creep in while assessing and re-assessing the line and pace of the putt and getting a second opinion from your caddie.

Tension doesn’t need to build up unnecessarily while taking your address position, lining up your body and gripping and re-gripping the handle of the putter.

The Baddeley philosophy is simple: Pick the line, walk up to the ball and hit it.

Watch him closely and there’s not even a practice swing.

He steps up to the ball, shuffles his feet, looks at the hole and pulls the trigger. From under ten feet he’s deadly and the whole action takes less then five seconds.

In fact he’s so quick that he infuriated the director of TV coverage in Hawaii because there was hardly time for the camera to focus before the ball was on its way, invariably into the hole.

How refreshing. Compare that to Sergio Garcia, Bernhard Langer or, God forbid, Tim Clark. I could have boiled a kettle in less time it takes him to consider a putt and strike it towards the hole. 

Adam Scott, who employs the belly putter, says: "I'd love to be able to putt like Aaron. If you are putting that good, you can't lose golf tournaments. Perhaps he’ll give me a putting lesson?"

So what’s the Baddeley secret?

"I've been doing a lot of putting with my eyes closed. Trying to free it up and trust the stroke. When I get out there, I see the line and feel very comfortable."

And a lesson for Scott?

"If he comes up and asks, I'll give him a lesson," says the American-born Baddeley, whose father was a Formula One pits mechanic and so was used to 'getting on with it'.

Here are a few basic tips to improve your putting:

*Hold the club firmly enough to control the face alignment but easily enough for it to swing like a pendulum with its own weight.

*Grip pressure is important. Strive to maintain equal and consistent hand pressure from address to the end of the follow through – especially as you start the clubhead back from the ball.

*Remember your instincts judge direction better than distance so concentrate on the weight of stroke required to roll the ball to stop adjacent to the hole. All putts are speed putts.

*Pick a spot a few inches in front of the ball on the line to you need to align your feet and body, square the putter face and start the ball rolling.

*Use your imagination to roll the putt with your eyes along the intended line to the hole.

*Don’t aim the putter then start trying to figure out the line.

*Maintain tempo and rhythm as you swing away from and back through the ball and follow putts from stroking position by rotating your head to see the ball roll.

Initially, you won’t do all that in five seconds like Aaron Baddeley but with practice it will all become second nature and you’ll soon be putting by instinct and be the envy of your peers.

First published Januray 2003, updated April 2013

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