VIDEO: The greatest putting tip Dr. Bob ever received

Bob Winters-Golf Tips

VIDEO: The greatest putting tip Dr. Bob ever received

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VIDEO: The greatest putting tip Dr. Bob ever received

Do you remember where you were on Friday, April 6, 2007?  It’s been nearly 10 years and as we grow older, the days and years pass faster. Still, this day was special in that it was the Good Friday before Easter and if that wasn’t special enough, The Masters tournament was going on at Augusta.

Like all enthusiastic golfers, if I wasn’t watching from the sidelines at Augusta, I should have been in front of a television set watching.  But I wasn’t at Augusta or watching it on TV this day.  What made this particular Friday so special was that I was going to play a round of golf with my childhood hero, Arnold Palmer. Not only was I going to play with him, but I was on his team in his shootout at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.  The story needs a bit of an introduction. 

This event started many years earlier when I was a junior golf student at the Stratton Arnold Palmer Golf Academy in Stratton Mountain, Vt.  It was the first premier golf academy designed with specific practice ranges and holes to accommodate any type of shot you could imagine. Several practice putting greens and sand bunkers were in place to accommodate the short game.  We even had video cameras to record our swings.

This was back in the early 70’s before video equipment and other modern instructional gadgets were being used. But Arnold Palmer had the world’s best junior academy with more than 100 junior golfers attending the three-week sessions.

At 17, I had a chance to drive my car from Indiana to Vermont and on the first day, I locked my keys inside of my trunk with my clubs, bags and all of my travel gear.  I had to wait three days before I received another set of keys to open my trunk. In the meantime, I borrowed clubs and balls from the other campers. On the first day, with a borrowed driver, I made a hole in one on the 11th hole, an uphill 200-yard, par-3 which had never been aced before.

The notoriety of being a junior golfer who aces a hole on the first day of our golf school brought me some instant status. At the end of the golf school, Arnold came to the practice range and put on a clinic and went around and worked with every student, one by one. Arnold came up to me and knew of my ace and asked me: “What club did you use?’  I replied:  “It was a driver, and not even my own.”  The King smiled and said, “well Bobby, you have done something I have never done yet, and that is make a hole in one with a driver.”

Later that evening at the awards ceremony, I was called up and presented with my awards and my hole in one trophy given to me personally by Arnold. It is the one trophy that I have earned over the years that still sits in my office in Orlando.

As we return to April 6, I reminded Arnold of those memories from Vermont and he had a great laugh that took us to the first tee for the shootout.  We had a great team of my friend Ron Jackson, Dick Ferris, Joe Patterson, Arnold and myself.  Arnold’s friend and cameraman Dr. Howdie Giles was creating photo memories of the entire day.  As I was waiting to hit my shot on the first tee at Bay Hill, I found myself thinking that I had been watching Arnold tee it up in front of millions of people at Augusta just 24 hours earlier and now here he was playing with me.

Upon playing the first nine and getting through the hero jitters, I found myself playing and putting particularly well.  On the 11th hole after I made a 7-footer for par, Arnold pulled me over and wanted to discuss something.  He asked me: “Bob, you’re putting pretty well. … what are you doing?”  I replied to my hero and said:  “I’m doing the same stuff that you told me when I was 17 at Stratton Mountain.”  He said: “What was that?”  I then reminded him that he told me three things to do in order to make putts:

1. Believe you are going to make the putt.

2. Keep your head and body very still.

3. Stroke the ball solid.

I reminded Arnold that stroking the putt solid really resonated with me. He looked at me and smiled and said:  “Well, those are pretty good thoughts. … I need to do that starting right now. 

Over the next few holes, the Arnold Palmer who always finished with a flair for the dramatic came through. He sank three putts within the 20-feet range. On the final hole, the tough par 4, he sank an 8-footer to make par and win a personal match to boot.

To this day, I don’t believe I have ever seen a golfer so gleeful and a smile as wide.

After the round was over, Arnold shook my hand, gave me a big grin and said: “there’s nothing like making putts.”

After all these years, what goes around, comes around. The King gave me a great putting tip and I returned it back to him.  The same can be said for great instruction and great memories. April 6, 2007 for me wasn’t just a special day. It was perhaps the best day of my golfing life. 

Long live the King.

Dr. Bob Winters is an internationally renowned sport psychologist who works with champion golfers around the world. Contact him at http://www.drbobwinters.com

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