Putting by Feel alone is based on the idea that everyone
has an innate ability to perform certain basic motor skills.
Putting by feel has its place in putting. However, you still have to learn through conscious effort basic skills such as aiming. putting straight, and reading the breaks on the green.
Ask someone to throw you your car keys when you are four to five feet away and the average person will have no difficulty in doing so.
It is highly likely that the action was performed without any thoughts of the actual mechanics of throwing.
So is there any need to teach someone something that they already know deep down? By breaking down putting into separate sub-skills, are we complicating the simple action of Looking and Reacting to a target? For example, can you improve your ability to throw a set of car keys by analysis and practice?
All motor skills have to be learned, even though the learning may take place without any conceptual understanding of what is required. A baby learns to walk through persistence without formal instruction. Can putting be learned in the same way?
A popular putting drill is to putt while looking at the hole. You don't look at the ball, but focus exclusively on your target. This is the way you would throw a dart at a dart board. Should putting be any different?
The easy answer would be No, but this answer fails on further examination. For the answer to be Yes, all dart players would typically perform at the same skill level.
However, if putting, like throwing a dart, can be performed at varying levels of expertise, what aspects of putting must be learned through conscious effort? What input do you need if you want to improve your putting?
Based on my research I believe that your (1) Setup at Address is fundamental to good putting.
Too Hard to Too Short
But what of the other skills that must be learned through experimentation and practice? The skills of (2) Aiming your Putterface accurately, (3) Executing a Straight Putt, and (4) Reading the Breaks on the Green, are not innate skills. You have to learn them individually.
Probably the most important skill for amateur golfers is avoiding taking three putts on a hole. This skill is your ability to control the distance your ball travels after contact.
It revolves around touch, your sense of feel for the distance required. It is in this area that your brain is best equipped to manage the task.
Throughout your life you are constantly judging distances in order to avoid colliding with obstacles. Here Putting by Feel works. The trick is to get out of your own way by delegating the task to your subconscious mind. If you try to control the distance by consciously managing the length of your putting stroke, you are liable to do a poor job.
Putting by Feel has its place in putting, but it is not the complete answer. The other skills must initially be learned, and then practised to gain mastery. Over time you will be able to perform them more or less instinctively.
When you are a really good putter, the act of putting will become effortless without any analysis or thought.
1 = Book - Instinct Putting by Eric Alpenfels