by Antti Vaalas, AimPoint Level II Instructor (Finland)
For many of us the best thing in golf is going low, shooting lights out, making birdies. The love of the challenge drives us to improve; we want to compete and we want results.
AimPoint green reading is all about making more putts; thus, it makes sense for us competitors to learn it. Yes, as we learn the rules of break, we will be ecstatic about the better scores that follow. But, the funny thing is, if we’re measuring the worth of AimPoint with numbers only, I think we’re short-changing ourselves. That’s because making putts after learning Aimpoint is different to making putts before knowing AimPoint.
”How’s that?” you ask. Let me try to explain by getting personal. I’ve played golf all my life. That means many tournaments, lots of made putts and, of course, many more missed ones.
I was one of the streaky putters, at times making everything, and then the next day missing them all. The streakiness was always a mystery to me, and because of it, I was never able to build confidence that would last from one day to the next.
Looking back I’ve come to realize something. With all the made putts there was certainly excitement, but no true satisfaction. I distinctively remember an uncomfortable feeling that often followed the thrill of seeing the ball roll into the hole: did I just get lucky? Did perhaps mistakes in the stroke and the read perfectly cancel each other allowing me to make that putt? If so, can I get lucky on the next green, too?
Perhaps it’s just me, but I doubt I’m the only player whose mind has raced with such questions.
Things changed after learning AimPoint, I got a new outlook on putting. It started with a new thought that followed holed putts: ”Oh man, everything was just so correct!” Suddenly, I just knew when the line and stroke were true. There was no doubt.
What an unbelievable thing! I had never felt like that in 30 plus years of playing golf, apart perhaps after holing short putts within few feet of the hole. It was a revelation to me, as quite honestly, I had not known such certainty existed.
Now when I make a putt I take satisfaction from it, instead of feeling lucky or that I was somehow due. It’s a special feeling when you really know what you’re doing. There is long-term fulfillment, not just a short-lived thrill, as you know exactly why you made the putt. Instead of uncertainty, I find that I’m generating and maintaining confidence like never before. The kind of confidence that endures.
Furthermore, there is no need to ”win” every time, as when I do miss a putt (of course it still often happens) I can usually quickly figure out why it happened. Since I’ve come to understand the rules of break, the feedback even after a miss is more meaningful than ever. When you understand greens you can accurately assess whether the miss was caused by the stroke or the read. Armed with that knowledge, you have a better chance on the next green to get it right. There is no mindless blaming of the conditions, there is no loss of confidence as you still know what you’re doing.
Teaching golf has been my job since 1990 and the days of playing tournaments are far behind me. But that’s ok as these days I’m enjoying the challenge of putting more than ever. It has become my favorite part of golf. Each putt is a like a ”mini-tournament”, I think of myself as competing against the green. It’s a challenge I invite, when in the past I was more likely to be afraid on the green.
Yes, AimPoint is all about making more putts. But there can be much more to it – a new outlook, greater fulfillment and enjoyment, lasting confidence. That’s the AimPoint difference.
Antti, What a wonderful example of how knowing where to aim builds confidence.