5 Ways To Putt

Which one are you?

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EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE INFORMATION people take in is visual. That is,what we see is most of what we know. Consider the last movie you saw. I bet you remember more of what you saw than the dialogue you heard. The same goes for golf. What you see on the golf course is often what you get. (If you’ve ever fixated on a water hazard only to hit your ball in it, you know what I mean.)

The only thing that the
“mechanical putter” sees when he putts is his stroke:whether it arcs or moves straight back and through, and if it accelerates or decelerates. Because he’s a purely technical putter, he’s unaware of his target and loses all sense of distance, direction and speed. For these reasons, he’s the least successful putter of the group.

Because our images are so important, it’s vital that we have positive ones. Over the next eight pages, I’ll show you how to apply “visualization” techniques to your putting. I’ll identify the five different ways people putt and tell you what they see and how they practice (even if one method shouldn’t be emulated).

I’m sure you’ll recognize your putting method in these photos, and I suggest, if you’re not satisfied with your current routine, to work your way up to the most successful type of putter.What type of putter is that, you ask? Read on to find out.


Because the mechanical putter is “stroke-focused,” he likes to use either a training aid to help him groove an arcing, on-plane stroke, or a flag stick (shown here) to ensure his stroke stays straight. I don’t recommend you practice like this or become a mechanical putter, because it makes you ignore your putt’s distance, speed and direction. (Speed is the most important part of putting.) If you’re a mechanical putter, I suggest you stop putting this way and read on! There’s a lot to learn from the other four types of putters.


When the “spot putter” reads his putt, he identifies a spot (a spike mark, discoloration of the green or old ball mark) and hits his ball toward it. Spot putters tend to be nonvisual in nature and use the spot to determine how far and in what direction they should putt the ball.

(Note here that I’m aiming at a spot just beyond the hole. That not only gives me an aiming point, but, because it’s beyond the hole, also gives me pretty decent speed. After all, I don’t want to leave any putt short.) The better my visual image of the spot as I stroke the putt, the better my speed will be.

Place three tees at three different distances from you. (It may be hard to see in the picture at right, but I’ve placed them 10, 20 and 30 feet away.) Aim each putt toward a tee. Then, as you make your stroke, picture the corresponding tee in your mind’s eye.

With enough practice, you should “see” the tee (and, hence, remember where and how far away it is) when you look at the ball. This will help you retain your target, and gauge the correct distance, too.


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