What is the single biggest difference between the games of players rated 1020+ and the overwhelming majority of golfers who are part of the three digit club?
Paul: Shot selection and consistency. You have to develop good judgment on which shot to attempt, and you must be able to execute the shots consistently. Those are the two biggest things in my mind. Solid putting is also something that really separates top players from everyone else.
How much time do you spend each week practicing just your putting?
Paul: It used to be a lot. Now I don’t get as much time. I would say these days I average about 12 hours a week all total. That includes practice at home or wherever I’m staying, plus quick sessions before or after rounds.
Has your putting practice routine changed much over the years?
Paul: Yes. It has changed a lot, actually. I used to try and make everything, practicing a ton of different shots from all over the place. Now I work much more on inside the circle stuff. Putts inside 30 feet are crucial and just cannot be missed in larger tournaments. Or at least you cannot miss very many.
You have seen former teammates switch to other disc manufacturers in recent years. How big of a deal do you think it has been for them to adjust to entirely different product lines?
Paul: It may have bothered players a little bit. Drivers are very similar, and you replace them more often, so that is an easier switch. Mid-range discs and putters are tougher because it’s a feel thing. When you’ve got to make the shot it’s hard not to go with what you trust.
Before Nikko left Innova he talked openly about the challenge of adjusting mentally to a different putter. For newer players that might be difficult to understand since so many putters appear to be virtually identical. What did you putt with before your signature series McPro Aviar, and was it challenging to make the switch?
Paul: It is always mental with the putter. I learned to putt with a stiff DX Aviar Putter. I also used a KC Pro Aviar for about a year or so. I liked the KC because it was more stable and had a little less glide. When I switched to the McPro it was like going back to what I started with, or what I knew. It was a comforting change.
What advice would you offer a new player overwhelmed by the large selection of discs available today?
Paul: I would suggest finding a neutral flyer, like a Mako. Start with something that is easy to control while you develop your power and throwing style. That will give you a good center point for stability. Then you can add different discs, and different stability levels, that compliment your style of throw.
People tend to mimic the putting styles of the best player in their area. Did you ever do this?
Paul: Yes, a little bit. I would watch top players back home and try to pick up little things they did I thought may benefit me. It’s all trial and error. You still have to be true though to what feels comfortable and balanced for you athletically.