November 22, 2021
Denny McCarthy is one of the best putters on the PGA Tour – 1st, 1st, 22nd in SG: putting in his last three seasons – but that wasn’t always the case in the past.
“I had a bit of a problem with that as a junior,” he said. “I’ve had a couple of rounds where I got 34 to 40 putts in one round and that was the weak part of my game.”
Everything started to change when McCarthy found a “system” and embraced it. Speaking at the RSM Classic on the way to his T10 finish over the weekend, he gave a glimpse into his mindset, how his system works, and what the rest of us can learn from it.
1. Embrace your feeling
The common theme in McCarthy’s comments was finding a system that would work for you. That means asking yourself some basic questions. Mainly: Are you more artistic or more analytical? For McCarthy it was the former, and his artistic side changed his performance on the greens:
“I played basketball in high school, it was a really good 3 point shooter, so it’s just kind of a point and shoot game to me. I just visualize things very well. I have my own kind of art form if you will. I’m just working on perfecting my own little system and I’m not trying to let too many people tell me what to do because I know what I’m doing really works, ”he says.
2. Stay away from mechanical thoughts
There he alluded to it, but tech-savvy players should also be careful not to let too many complicated thoughts inhibit their feel. For McCarthy, too much focus on the mechanics of his stroke never ends well.
“I’m sticking to my system, it’s not too mechanical,” he says. “I treat it as an art form and just have fun with it.”
3. Build confidence in your putter
And while we stay on the subject, your putter is a tool that you can use to build trust. You can’t expect to be a good putter with constantly changing your tools. It’s advice we all need to take to heart – me included.
“I’ve been using it since college, it’s my loyal guy,” he says of his Scotty Cameron GoLo. “This is the club I trust the most.”
4. See the path of the ball
As for actually reading the putts, McCarthy says he doesn’t aim two cups off the left, for example. Instead, he focuses on seeing the entire line of the putt. He wants to feel the ball roll along the contours of the green, through certain places and into a certain part of the hole. It allows him to pay attention to every bit of the putt.
“When I see a putt kicking out a couple of cups or something, I’m not aiming for a couple of cups, I’m not looking at the hole, I see something that’s going along that line, be it ball marks or poa annua marks or something that stands in my way and visualizes something in the places that I have selected. “
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, McCarthy says you must commit to every putt. Trust your process and give it your all with every putt. They won’t all go in, but look at the bigger picture: if you do the right things, you’ll do more putts in the long run.
“I pick the spots and trust that the spot I choose will give my ball a good chance of getting in and I’ll get up and hit it,” he says. “If I just keep doing what I do, good things will happen to me”
1. Be aware of your feelings 2. Stay away from mechanical thoughts 3. Build confidence in your putter 4. See the trajectory of the ball 5. Commit
Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor for GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role, he oversees all of the brand’s service journalism in the areas of teaching, equipment, health and fitness on all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.
An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort golf team, where he helped them top the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to do his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University and was named in 2017 “Rising Star” of the News Media Alliance. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast.