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.
The keys to great putting are really pretty simple. You must hit the ball squarely with the putterface, keep the putterhead moving level to the ground and square to your target line, and swing the putter at the proper speed to roll the ball the desired distance. To accomplish this more consistently, I recommend a grip that’s a bit revolutionary, but extremely effective.
Even though we all do it from time to time, there’s really no excuse for missing a relatively straight four- to six-foot putt. Here’s a visualization trick I use with my students to help take the anxiety out of these putts.
The proper putting setup is an important ingredient in a golfer’s success. Setting the eyes in the correct position is one of the critical factors that’s often overlooked. On that subject, there are two schools of thought.
Acceleration is the increasing speed at which the clubhead moves through the ball and is important not only for hitting shots of substantial distance, but also for short putts. In fact, if you find that you’re missing too many short putts, the cause may be failure to accelerate the putterhead. Here’s a drill that will help.
To be a great putter, you have to have sound fundamentals. This requires a steady putting stroke that regularly sends the ball rolling in the desired direction. You also ought to have a clear idea of what direction you should roll the ball—not only in the first few feet, but also during the entire distance of the putt. To do this effectively, you need to know how the green breaks by looking at two components of the putt: speed and direction. Some instructors argue that speed is the most important factor in putting because it dictates direction—that is, more speed equals less break, less speed equals more break.
The secret to consistently putting well is to match your posture to
your stroke type. However, the conventional wisdom applied by most
recreational golfers is that while putting, anything goes (witness the
claw grip, the left-hand low technique and the belly-anchored stroke).
And while many a Tour victory has been fueled by an unorthodox method,
one fundamental shouldnt be ignored: How you stand to the ball
conditions how you stroke it.
A quiet body, a ball at rest, a short back-and-forth motion—how could
something so simple cause so many headaches? Its a question that
occupies the minds of touring professionals and weekend warriors alike.
Wouldnt it be great if putting was as simple as it sounds, where every
round was as automatic as the clinic Aaron Baddeley put on at Harbour
Town this year (97 putts over 72 holes)? Jeff Ritter, director of
instruction at the ASU Karsten Golf Academy in Tempe, Ariz., believes
putting isnt complicated. And to help solve your putting woes, he has
put together his No-Frills Putting Drills—nine straightforward,
no-nonsense exercises intended to be practiced on your own, without the
aid of an instructor. Practice these drills and, before you know it,
youll actually look forward to working with the flatstick.
Most recreational golfers don’t spend as much time on the practice putting green as they should, and when they do make the effort to roll a few balls for improvement’s sake, it’s usually done without purpose. Practice is most effective when you have a specific focus or goal and it’s the only method to truly improve your putting technique—and to easily drop a few strokes per round. The following Three-Speed Drill is a purposeful method for doing just that by involving four key areas of successful putting: green reading, concentration, speed control and accuracy.
The ability to control putterhead speed translates into the ability to control the speed of the ball and, ultimately, your ability to make more than your fair share of putts. If your control has become shaky, here’s a two-part drill to help you get the ball rolling at the speed you desire.