One of the great things about the game of golf is that, on occasion, all of us, even the highest handicapper, will hit a shot like a pro. It might be a well-struck drive, hitting a par-5 in two or holing out a bunker shot.
How to make the most of those crucial moments before you putt.
Standing over a putt for too long (and “freezing” up) can seriously impact the fluidity of your putting stroke. To make sure you don’t get this “overanalysis paralysis,” I suggest you don’t wait too long in between your last practice stroke and your actual putt. In fact, it should take you a maximum of eight seconds! Anything longer than that, and it’s hard to retain the desired feel for the putt at hand.
Golfers use two kinds of putting strokes: a square-to-square stroke that swings (and stays) square to the target line and an arcing stroke that travels inside the target line on the backstroke and follow through.
Putting really shouldn't be any more complicated than this
In my many years of teaching, I’ve read, heard, seen and been told a number of putting tips that, I feel, only serve to overcomplicate what should be a simple motion. I think putting is just rolling the ball, so I like to keep things simple. Here, I’m practicing a drill that helps me keep the ball on the right path. All I do is place two golf balls about six inches apart, and a foot in front of my ball, and then make a stroke.
Here’s another easy tip to apply the next time you’re on the putting green. Simply place a golf ball about six inches behind your ball and make a stroke. If you miss the ball (swinging either above it or to the side), then your backswing path is offline or too steep. Take a look at the illustration, and you’ll see that I actually knock the second ball as my putter swings back.
The top 5 mistakes you should avoid in your putting game
If you look at any great player, he or she has a routine for every shot. And when it comes to putting, better players know that sticking to a routine is necessary for making consistent strokes. Now, what kind of routine should you have? That’s up to you. Just try and incorporate what I’m doing here, which is looking at the putt from behind the ball, about halfway down the putting line and one more look from behind the hole. This helps to get a clear picture of the slope and speed. All that’s left here is for me to make a couple practice strokes and hit the ball. Just remember, this is my routine because it happens to work well for me.
If you want to become a better putter, you have to learn to stabilize the lower body as much as possible. All great putters have a rock-steady lower half and swing the putter from above the waist. Now, deciding whether you’re a hands-driven putter or a shoulder-driven putter (or both!) is a matter of personal style, but one thing is for sure: No matter how you choose to swing with the upper body, the lower body must stay as still as possible.
The three simple keys to consistently sinking short putts are: making contact with the center of the putterface, making contact with a square putterface that’s on-line to the target and accelerating the clubhead through impact. If you learn to do these three things, your short putting, and overall putting, will improve quickly and should stay solid for good.
Down the stretch, the last thing you want is to find yourself uncomfortable over a short putt. In most cases, the yips comes from the golfer decelerating, the putter then strays offline and well, there you have a missed putt!
Unlike the full swing, putting requires the utmost in limited and controlled movements. Any swaying, lifting or sliding can cause you to miss putts. The same holds true for your eyes. Any deviation from the golf ball through impact can lead to a variety of mis-hits that affect not only your aim but your distance control as well.
Unlike the golf swing, there are almost no centrifugal forces at work in the putting stroke. Therefore, whatever you do at address pretty much determines what you’ll do with the putter during the stroke. In studying the best players on Tour, it’s easy to find common denominators in both their setup positions and strokes. Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, common traits run rampant in the setup positions of great putters. Specifically, they establish four key setup lines.
A square putterface and a straight-back, straight-through path are crucial fundamentals for a solid stroke. These two elements control direction, which is undeniably one of the two most important aspects of good putting. However, perhaps the most important fundamental, rhythm, is often overlooked. Rhythm establishes the steadiness of the putting stroke and is the main factor in controlling distance and speed. Rhythm is the heartbeat of a good stroke, and is at least as important, if not more so, than any other aspect of successful putting.
Take a look at 99 percent of the putters designed today and you’ll notice that if you hold the face up to a flat edge, the shaft actually leans away from the target. Manufacturers use this design to ensure that you press your hands forward at address, preserving the loft of the club and promoting more consistent impact. The key to understanding and using this fact to your advantage is to make sure you’re setting up in the correct fashion at address. To accomplish this, press your hands forward to the belt loop of your pants, just to the target side of your belt buckle.