For starters, he enjoys the art of putting. Watch him go about his business on the practice green (as we recently did at The Belfry) and that much is clear. There are other reasons, too – five of them, you might say.
Over the next few pages, Sullivan talks us through his favourite putting drills – exercises that have become part of his routine in the lead-up to tournaments, immediately prior to play and back home at Stratford-on-Avon Golf Club. He swears by them, and if you’re serious about improving your performance on the greens, you’d do well to adopt one or two yourself.
1 Stack 'em up
This is my go-to drill when working on pace control. I start by marking out a five-foot gap between two tees. Then, I pop another tee down about ten feet away to mark where I’m going to putt from. The aim is to ‘stack’ the balls up in the gap. Each one has to go further than the last. However, no ball is allowed to finish outside this five-foot zone. My first putt has to make it inside this area, too. If it doesn’t, I have to start again.
I once saw Marc Warren get 11 in, which is pretty impressive. Normally, if you can get five in, you’re doing really well. When I’m dialled in, I can just inch each ball slightly further than the last. I love this drill because there’s no hole involved, and it gives me a great sense of the pace of the greens before I go out and play.
Try repeating this drill three or four times before you go out and play at the weekend – as opposed to quickly just throwing some balls down and trying to hole them – and I guarantee it’ll be a more effective warm-up.
2 The spiral
I tend to do my three- to eight-foot spiral drills on a Tuesday or Wednesday before a tournament, not during actual competition days. In fact, I have a Huxley Golf mat in the garden, so I can do this sort of stuff at home.
I’ll aim to hole the closest putt and then move on to the next one. Miss and I’ll stay where I am. I’ll keep doing it until I get all the way round without missing.
The more you hole of these and the more you see the ball going into the hole, the greater your confidence will become. If you’re kind to yourself, and give yourself nice flat putts, it shouldn’t take that long!
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