Tips To Improve Your Putting
If you are serious about lowering your scores, then you must take putting seriously. Almost half the shots you play are likely to be on the green. No matter how good a golfer you are, if your putting is not up to standard, you will never score as well as you might.
I don’t think there are many worse feelings in golf than hitting a green in regulation and then following it up with a three-putt!
“Drive for show and putt for dough” is the often-heard comment on courses around the world and despite recent statistical analysis showing that it might not be 100% accurate you still need to work on some putting fundamentals to keep you sharp.
These tips to improve your putting should help you achieve the sort of scores you are hoping for.
Choosing A Putter
I think everyone agrees that getting custom fit for a driver or irons is going to improve your golf. However, a lot of people tend to buy a putter on a whim. You currently struggle with your putting then it might be down to the weapon that you wield. It might be worth visiting a golf instructor with fitting experience who can advise you on the right style of putter for your golf game.
Reading The Green
You could probably write books on how to read greens! Do you plumb bob? Maybe you are limber enough to do the spider, like Camillo Villegas. Learning how to read greens comes with experience but there are a number of simple things to remember that can help you get better more quickly.
Work out a routine that works for you. The read should start before you even get to the putt. Take note of the overall lay of the land. If there’s water near the green then it’s likely the slopes will be mostly in that direction. If there are greenside bunkers then there are usually slopes to be accounted for as they “stick in” to the green.
Some people like to read their putt from behind the hole others from behind the ball. Walk along the line from the ball to the hole on the low side to get an appreciation of the distance the ball will travel.
Pay special attention to the area around the hole as the golf ball will be traveling at its slowest and will be more affected by slopes than in the first few feet of the putt.
The best putters usually visualize a line running from the ball to the cup. They feel like they play a movie in their mind’s eye of the ball running into the hole. Some people might close their eyes while imagining a successful putt.
Once you are happy with the read you can move on to the more practical aspects of putting technique.
Gripping Your Putter
Unlike the other clubs in a golfer’s bag, the putter should definitely be gripped more in the palms of your hands. This should reduce the use of the wrists through the swing which should make it easier to start the ball on the correct line by returning the clubface square. Ultimately your choice of grip is whatever allows you to strike the ball solidly as often as possible on the line you have picked. Make sure not to strangle the club. Holding the club too tightly is unlikely to lead to great outcomes. Many average golfers are guilty of using too much pressure.
Putting is a much more individual game and everyone has their own idiosyncrasies but there are still a few basic principles that will probably keep you rolling that rock!
Consistency of setup is important if you are going to be a great putter. You need to strike the ball from the sweet spot as often as possible in order to achieve distance control and also start the ball on the correct line.
Take a stance that you find comfortable although it doesn’t need to be too wide since you aren’t applying the same sort of force with your putter that you would with your driver or irons.
You will probably need to put the ball towards the front of your stance so that you can strike slightly up on the ball. Most people find that having their eyes positioned directly above the ball is best or perhaps slightly inside the ball-to-target line.
Ideally, you want your hands to be in line with or slightly ahead of the ball at address.
This should promote a putting stroke that will get the ball rolling as quickly as possible.
You should also use the practice green to work on your alignment. Make sure that your feet, hips and shoulders are all lined up parallel left of target. Make sure you are able to consistently line up the putter head square to the target line because even a perfect stroke will be no good if your aim is wrong.
Try to let your arms hang naturally with your palms facing one another.
Tips For Your Putting Stroke
Ideally, you want to feel like you make a pendulum motion by rocking your shoulders. The length of your backswing should dictate how far the ball travels.
The putter shaft and your arms should effectively form a Y-shape which needs to stay together through the swing.
Try to avoid turning your head to see where the ball has gone too soon, particularly on short putts. Keeping your eyes focused on where the ball was is one way to help you hold your position.
Useful Practice Putting Drills
Probably the two most important skills to improve putting are how well you can judge distance and how well you start the ball on your chosen line.
To help you improve distance control and therefore lag putting try placing tee pegs at 5 feet, 10 feet and 20 feet. Work on putting to those distances at random so you can build up confidence in your ability on medium and long putts.
If you want to work on directional accuracy then find a flat putt around 5 feet long and place two pairs of tees just slightly wider than your putter head apart using them as a gate to help guide your swing.
Alternatively, you could place a pair of tees just wider than the width of a ball a few feet along the target line. This will show you how well you are striking the ball.
A putting mirror is a relatively inexpensive aid that can really help you when working on your setup. It’s great at helping you position yourself over the ball.
Even in professional golf putts can be missed. If you’re watching the PGA Tour on TV then usually you’re watching the players that are playing the best golf that week. You’re not seeing the guys at the back of the field that are missing birdie and par putts. Despite spending hours and hours practicing they still miss more than they make particularly once they get outside the eight-foot mark. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself by expecting to hole everything. Remember that even a perfect stroke can miss due to imperfections in the green.
Try to stay relaxed. Tension will not help enhance your feel.
The stroke should work from the shoulders like a pendulum with the wrists remaining stiff.
Avoid moving your head during the swing.
Your swing should be relaxed with a smooth acceleration through the ball.
Place the ball under your eyes or perhaps a fraction outside your eye line.
Keep the ball positioned toward the front of the stance.
Tips To Improve Your Putting: Conclusion
If you can consistently get your long putts close to the hole and hole out well from within 8 feet then that is a solid basis for good scoring. If you are struggling with your putting even after employing some of these tips then you might want to find your local PGA professional to give you some expert advice.