A Lesson Learned: Russell Henley's putting routine can help you

Russell Henley
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Russell Henley set a rookie scoring record for the PGA Tour.
Bobby Hix, PGA

Problem Area: Putting
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Sunday, January 13, 2013 | 10:31 p.m.

As an instructor, every student is special and every golf acheivement means the world to me. I get a huge thrill from watching my students make their first par just like I do watching them break par. But I have to admit, watching Russell Henley, who I've been working with since he was 11 years old, win his first PGA Tour event this past week -- this is going to rank really high in my golf life. I mean, really really high.

This past week, there was alot of talk here at Idle Hour Golf Club in Macon, Ga., about Russell's chances on Tour. I can tell you that as proud as we all are of Russell, we all know how competitive and difficult it can be out there. And we also knew that Russell had the talent and confidence to do just fine. If he played baseball, he'd be the shortstop. If he played football, he'd be the quarterback. If he played basketball, he'd be the point guard. He wants the ball and to be the guy who takes the shot.

I couldn't help but laugh a little when the announcers kept questioning if he could withstand the pressure. I'm telling you, he wants that pressure. I think five birdies to finish helps that argument.

Russell has so much talent and skill (obviously), but there are a few things that we've worked on that can help every golfer -- and nowhere more than on the putting green. There's actually a pretty simple tip that has made a world of difference for him, and can for you, too.

I heard a few people make note of how quick he was on the greens -- he just stepped up and hit it. There was a little more to it than that, but it's not far off. We have worked hard on establishing a putting routine, one that has him take a look and then stroke it -- with no time to allow too much thinking and interference to creep into his thoughts.

Russell and I had a chance not that long ago to talk to legendary Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz -- who is also an accomplished golfer. Russell asked him what was harder, golf or baseball. Smoltz said golf because no matter what the situation in baseball, he could trust his instinct and routine. But if he had to think about his next pitch for 15 minutes, there'd be no way he would hit his spot. And that's one of the hardest things about golf -- the more you think, the harder it is to execute.

So for your next round, consider sticking to your putting routine and not analyzing and overanalyzing every putt. I can't promise you'll finish with five straight birdies and set a rookie scoring record, but then again, I've seen it happen.

Bobby Hix is the Director of Instruction at the Arnold Blum Learning Center at Idle Hour Club in Macon, Ga.  Hix was the 2010 Georgia PGA Section Teacher of the Year. You can follow Bobby on Twitter at @BobbyHix 

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Having youthful eyes is always helpful, but one should also know if he/she is right eye dominant or left eye dominant. If one is left eye dominant and playing righty, aiming and reading putts can be tricky. I am not a pro but you can see Keegan Bradley shut his right eye sometimes.