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Truth about Carpet Putting

The 48th Secret

The chief value of practicing on a carpet is to standardize the grip, stance, and stroke so that the ball will roll straight. This is best undertaken on a uniform rug so that our observation may be more accurate.
Carpet putting should be practiced only until you are reasonably sure that the swing will "repeat," as modern lingo says. It will also be of value for sinking short and uncomplicated putts.
However, there are comparatively few uncomplicated putts, and the more difficult ones must be learned on the greens.
It is only by practicing on greens that one learns to putt on greens. Remember, "no transfer of training."
In this connection, an experiment was performed by the writer that is pertinent. At a time when his putting was "off," he purchased a putting device, which was ingenious in that when it was placed six feet away on the average rug, the ball could be putted across the rug, up a short inclined plane into a hole. If the putt was either missed or made, the ball would be returned. Practice results were as follows:

First thousand 493 sunk
Second thousand 604 ″
Third thousand 737 ″
Fourth thousand 795 ″
Fifth thousand 915 ″

In the last thousand shots, the putting seemed very good. Runs of 30 and 40 consecutive shots weren't rare. Only four putts were missed out of the last 100. It was apparent that he had become one of the world's great putters. There was only one thing wrong—he was no better on the golf course.
The reader will already have guessed how this came about. This type of practice violates our rule that practice is faulty to the extent that it does not exactly duplicate the thing we wish to learn.
All that the writer had learned was how to make a six foot putt on a perfectly level rug, with no pressure to affect the outcome, with no distracting influences, with no need to change the stance, to gauge the distance, and to notice the direction closely!
Harvey Penick spotted the trouble immediately. The wiry nature of Texas greens is such that putts will kick off line unless they are stroked with over-spin. The writer cut his putts. On a smooth rug with a set distance, it was possible with a great amount of practice to putt well, but it did not transfer to the greens. The reverse is also true. Putters who could out-putt me on the greens were not as good on a carpet. But the stroke Penick taught me, which was more successful on the greens,could not compete with my cut putts on the carpet device. In time, it might have.

Putting on a carpet may actually hurt one's putting. Some of the bad habits which develop from it are:

1. It weakens the habit of paying attention to distance.
2. It weakens the habit of paying attention to slopes.
3. It weakens the habit of concentrating to eliminate distracting influences.
4. It weakens the habit of being careful about grip and stance.
5. Since we are apt to do more putting on a carpet than on the greens merely because of the availability factor, we may over-learn bad habits.

Let us contrast what happened when I practiced the same number of shots on the putting green.

 First thousand 381 sunk
 Second thousand 308 "
 Third thousand 373 "
 Fourth thousand 372 "
 Fifth thousand 393 "

In the five thousand putts on the carpet, I rather quickly reached a point at which little improvement was possible. After five thousand putts on a green, there was no apparent improvement.
After years of experimenting with carpet putting, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that at best it may not be worth the effort, and at worst it is a competing technique that will confuse the golfer and slow his progress.