Long Beach-born golfer Patrick Cantlay has quickly become one of the most respected players on the PGA Tour, with nine professional Tour wins and one victory on the Web.com Tour.
His form with the flat stick has been inspiring, not least to a legion of amateur fans looking to emulate his work around the green. RSNG.com caught up with him to find out how you can apply his techniques to your own putting…
Topping The Chart
American golfing star Patrick Cantlay is a comfortable constant in the upper echelons of the golf world rankings. A large part of this is down to a slew of impressive putting statistics. Notably, the 30-year-old tops the PGA Tour’s strokes gained chart – a measurement of how many shots are gained (or lost) on the green – heading off the likes of Adam Green, Taylor Montgomery, Maverick McNealy, Harry Hall and Danny Willett.
But what are the key aspects of his putting stroke that amateur players can learn from?
“Comfort in the stance is everything,” begins Cantlay. “I have to feel supple, but also in control, and perfectly still.
“We’ve all been there on a putt where we can feel ourselves swaying around, particularly if it’s a windy day or you’re on a sloping green. That’s a bad feeling because you know all your alignment is out and is wrong.
“The opposite feeling – when you’re going to move during the backswing and you know you have a rock-solid lower frame, and everything is in line… that’s a great sensation.”
Neuroscience has really enhanced my understanding of the game and helped me make many more putts
Cantlay also has a one-armed drill where he uses just his left arm to putt. If you’re a right-handed player, you will see this to best effect when watching Cantlay perform these warm-up movements on the practice green.
“I’ve been around one-armed putters and even back-to-hole putters, who play the shot behind them in a straight line, effectively brushing their arm down the hip to gain straight movement,” says Cantlay. “Everyone has a different technique for both warming up and playing shots for real.”
Cantlay says that as a right-handed player, the only usual visual information he receives comes from the left side – the area between the ball he is about to make contact with and the hole. “That information is fed up to the right side of the brain – neuroscience says the opposite part of the brain operates that part of your body. So, left to right and vice versa.
“The back of the left hand knows how to point at the target and how to move at the target better than the palm of the right hand, and this is key to trusting your brain and your body to play the shot in the best way.
“This neuroscience has actually really enhanced my own understanding of the game, and certainly has helped me make many more putts."
My getting in the zone begins the moment I leave the hotel room – I am fixed on the goal and I don’t switch off from that
A Trance-Like State
Many of us count ourselves as competitive, but Cantlay takes things to another level. “My competitiveness is only made possible by extreme focus,” he says. “You cannot be competitive unless you are completely in the zone, all the time.
“My getting in the zone begins the moment I leave the hotel room. I am fixed on the goal, the target, and I don’t switch off from that until I have debriefed well after the round has finished.”
Cantlay has often drawn criticism for what he terms his “ultra-focus”, with commentators suggesting his sullen look is that of a man out of love with the sport. “I am immersed in what I am doing,” he says. “That is simply what works for me.
“If I thought that getting amped up, getting high, getting low, would help, then I would do it. I don’t think that it helps me, so I don’t do it. I try to get as focused as I can, especially when I am putting. I try to enter almost a trance-like state and being the way that I am I think facilitates that. It’s led, quite amusingly, to some people thinking that I might be a boring person.
“Being in that moment, I may not show just how excited I am to be playing golf – particularly when I’m winning tournaments – because I don’t think it helps me play my best stuff. You’ll have to trust me – I’m enjoying it!”
WHAT NEXT? Read how one of the PGA Tour’s most experienced players, Stewart Cink, increased his focus with the help of his son and psychotherapist in this RSNG.com interview
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