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.
A tried-and-true method for becoming a lights-out putter
For most golfers, finding time to practice putting is difficult. In fact, it’s no easy task to find time to improve in any area of the game. Therefore, it’s essential that players not only create practice opportunities whenever they can, but also budget practice time to maximize effectiveness and create better habits.
Though diagnosed a hundred different ways, the yips begin with loss of conscious, directional control of the ball off the putterface. Next comes the resultant loss of confidence. And suddenly, the possibility of actually hitting a controllable putt into the hole becomes nil. Yikes!
It sounds crazy, but one-armed putting can improve even the worst putting strokes. Putting with your rear arm (the right arm for a right-handed golfer) helps instill a feeling of acceleration through the putt, which is absolutely critical for creating a smooth, end-over-end roll. Rear-arm putting accomplishes this largely due to the weight of the putter—with two hands, it’s easy to manipulate the club and make jabbing or decelerating strokes. But with one hand on the club, you don’t have the coordination or strength to manipulate the putter. You’ll need to rock your shoulders and control the stroke with your body, not your arm, two hallmarks of a fundamentally solid stroke.
For most golfers a left-hand-low grip cures all setup flaws
Every golfer is built differently, but in constructing a putting posture that will yield the most successful results, you have to take into account subtle, less obvious differences in build. The most important of these “anatomical fingerprints” is shoulder lines. When standing naturally, every golfer has shoulders that are either open (left shoulder behind right), closed (right shoulder behind left) or square. Most golfers have open shoulders, and the putting setup that best accommodates this anatomical structure is one that features a cross-handed (left-hand-low) putting grip.
There’s no quicker way to establish yourself as totally clueless on the greens—and to inspire confidence in your opponent—than to set up for a right-to-left putt, make a little pull stroke that sends the ball dead left, and watch the ball meander aimlessly on a path five or six inches below the cup, totally oblivious to the hole. Ditto the left-to-right breaker that you push well right of the hole. There’s a reason they call this “missing on the amateur side”—these are the putts that haven’t got a chance.
Golfers tend to get worked up about putting. They make it into a far more complex exercise than it has to be, which is why I often jokingly compare putting to performing brain surgery. No doubt about it, we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves as we stand over that little white ball and whisper a prayer before pulling the trigger.
Posture and balance in golf are extremely important if you want to be a consistent ballstriker. In fact, in all sports, balance is paramount. The next time you thumb through a sports magazine, look for a baseball player awaiting a pitch at the plate or a quarterback set in the pocket and ready to throw. In every case, you’ll immediately recognize the high level of balance all professional athletes possess.
Just like it is with the full swing, it’s easy for golfers to get sloppy while executing their putting strokes. By sloppy, I mean hitting the ball all over the putterface rather than striking the ball precisely on the sweet spot.