Todd Sones: The Most Common Mistake Amateurs Make

Sones article
In January of 2012, Todd wrote that it’s easier to repeat a solid, consistent setup position with a belly putter.

Todd Sones is someone whom I greatly respect. I first read about Todd in the January 2012 issue of Golf Magazine. In his article “Belly vs. Short,” Todd discussed how belly putters nail the four absolutes of putting: rotation, tuck, tilt, and ball position.

As someone who had always struggled with a conventional-length putter and had finally switched to a belly model, I felt as if Todd was speaking to me. I also knew that I wasn’t the only one who struggled on the greens. There had to be an easier way!

I was so intrigued by what I read that I went online and further researched Todd’s small putting company, Coutour, and his unique putter fitting system based on the principles of simple geometry – the Pythagorean theorem. Based on what I read and because I had purchased my belly putter “off the rack,” I determined it was probably a little too long and that I needed to get fitted.

The very next month, in February, my buddy Ken Bank and I scheduled a putter fitting with one of Todd’s reps, Megan Padua, at Raven Golf Club in Phoenix. The experience was life-changing. I went from someone who was almost fearful of putting to feeling like I couldn’t miss.

That feeling was short-lived. In the fall of 2014, when it became apparent that the USGA would be moving forward with its ban of anchored putting strokes (something I still disagree with) I knew it was time to go see the guru himself. In early October of that year, I accompanied my wife on a work trip to Chicago and then made the 30-minute drive out to Vernon Hills to visit Todd at White Deer Run Golf Club.

Rule 14-1b prohibits anchoring the club either directly or by use of an anchor point.
Rule 14-1b prohibits anchoring the club either directly or by use of an anchor point.

It was during that meeting that Todd, who also serves on the Golf Academy of America’s National Advisory Board, encouraged me to come to Chandler later that month and listen to him speak while he was making his annual campus visit.

I did, and the rest is history. I’ve said that Todd is one of the biggest reasons why I elected to attend the Golf Academy of America Phoenix beginning in January of 2015. I have a lot of respect for both Todd’s teaching philosophy and his methodology. He’s a Golf Digest Top 50 and Golf Magazine Top 100 Instructor for a reason!

I’m also on Todd’s email list, and from time-to-time, he sends out really helpful video tips that I like to forward along. The videos typically expire in 2-3 days, so I also try to transcribe them in hopes of getting them to last a little longer.

This week’s video deals with the most common mistake amateurs make. As someone who’s embarking on a career in the golf industry and specifically teaching at La Paloma Country Club in Tucson, I cling to videos like these to help make me a better teacher. Like anything else in life, in golf, you never stop learning.

One of the first things Todd said he noticed when Jason Day completed Saturday’s third round at the PGA Championship last summer was that Day went right to the range and started practicing alignment skills even with a two-shot lead.

“Rarely do I see amateurs put anything down on the range where they’re working on their alignment,” says Todd. “It’s something that has to be practiced.”

To work on alignment, Todd likes to anchor a soft, cotton rope into the ground using two tees.

Despite leading by two shots after Saturday's third round at the PGA Championship, Jason Day went right to the range and started practicing alignment drills like these.
Despite leading the PGA Championship, Jason Day went right to the range after his round and worked on his alignment.

Says Todd, “What’s nice is that you can go back behind it and line it up exactly to where you want to practice.”

“The rope is nice and soft, so I can put a ball right next to the edge of it. When I put the club down, it’s easy to identify whether or not the club is perfectly square. Focus on the leading edge of you club and make sure when you set it down that you’re setting the club down so it’s at a right angle to your intended target (line).”

The last line you need to remember is this: aim your club to your target line and your body to your club. That’s the mistake most amateurs make when they set-up to the golf ball. They look over their shoulder, take their stance, and then put the club down.

Amateurs never really focus on making sure the club is on their alignment aid. Put an alignment aid down, step behind it, and then turn and set yourself perpendicular to it. It’s a great skill to practice. Set the club down first, club to your target line, and then take your stance so your body is set to your club. That sequence, with an alignment aid in practice, will help you take it to the golf course.

If you line up better on the golf course, you’re going to score better because most people make a lot of alignment errors when they play golf.



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