Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.
As this year’s Open Championship from Royal Liverpool approaches, Cameron Smith has his eyes set on becoming the first repeat champion since Padraig Harrington in 2007 and 2008.
Sure, the 29-year-old Aussie has a solid all-around game, but one of his secret weapons has always been his putting, as he’s generally regarded as one of the best in the world. He showcased that during his major title last year at St. Andrews, where he set an unofficial PGA Tour putting record with 255 feet of putts made during the second round.
But what makes Smith’s putting that much better than his peers? He digs into the details in the video above, revealing a few of his favorite tendencies that can also be duplicated by even the most average golfer.
Cameron Smith’s putting tips
One of the first things you’ll notice about Smith’s putting routine is his confidence. Rather than read the putt and take a few practice strokes, he uses his keen intuition to get a feel for how the ball will move — and visualizes it going in each time.
“I wouldn’t say I really work on my tempo so much,” he says. “I don’t take a practice stroke, so I like to kind of visualize and feel a lot, rather than feeling it through body motion. I guess I just like to visualize it.”
This is a unique approach, with Smith saying he uses a combination of AimPoint mixed with traditional green-reading.
“I use my feet a little bit,” he says. “I guess I’m kind of a halfway or in-between AimPoint and a traditional reader of the green. Just spend more time on the green and and try to see that ball going on the top side of the hole.”
Smith makes putting sound as simple as riding a bike, saying the most critical aspect for him is duplicating the same setup before each putt. This is where he uses a training aid (putting mirror) to help him lock in.
“For me, I like to set up the same every time I’m out on the golf course,” he says. “The first thing I do is whack my mirror on the green and make sure my setup is identical to before.”
So if you’re a player who struggles with having swing thoughts, tension and anxiety on the putting surface, it might be worth trying Smith’s approach — and trust your pre-shot process, locking in and visually seeing the ball go in.
“I don’t even really know how to explain it,” he adds. “I take a really long look at the hole before I putt and just see that ball dripping over the edge and just hit it.”