Keep It Simple

How to drop more putts without trying so hard

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Read the grain! Notice the two colors on this green? That's the grain going in two directions. Judge the grain of the green by looking closely at the blades and the direction they lay. The ball will always roll faster with the grain than against it. Same goes for break, as the grain can either reduce or accentuate the curve of a putt.


If you want to become a better putter,
you have to know how to use your eyes to your advantage. Why? For the simple reason that putting has everything to do with how the ground is contoured and the speed the ball rolls on it. Full shots and even most short shots launch the ball into the air, but with putting, it's critical that you inspect the entire surface between the golf ball and the hole. To get a good look, I recommend you look at all your putts, not only from behind the hole, but from a 90-degree angle. The angle behind the hole will help you see the slope from side to side, but from 90 degrees, you'll get a better idea of the distance and elevation change of your putts.

When I read putts, I usually start at the 90-degree angle and then move back to behind the golf ball. Once I do that, I don't bother looking at the hole from any other angle, since not only does that slow me down too much, but it tends to overcomplicate things; as a result, I start overthinking it. Try this technique the next time you putt. Pick a 90-degree angle (I usually like looking from the higher side), and then get a good look from behind the ball. I know it will help.


Don't get too fixated on your stroke. Whether it arcs a lot or just a little, practice becoming more result-oriented and not stroke-minded. You'll better repeat your natural stroke if you think of making good putts, not making good strokes.


Don't just look at the hole. Start from the ball and trace the line you want the ball to roll. Then, hold steady on the target and paint a picture in your mind of the ball rolling in!
My favorite drills to work on feel for distance have to do with using your eye-hand coordination developed by other activities and sports you've played in the past, such as baseball, basketball or bowling, for example.

Tossing and rolling the ball to the hole in your putting stance is an excellent way to feel the arm swing needed to get the right distance. Toss a few balls underhand to a few different distances until you get the feel for rolling the ball to the hole and developing a natural, free-flowing stroke motion.

The next drill will be my Heads-Up Drill, which involves looking up at the hole instead of down at the ball. You want to get the same sense of rolling the ball to the hole with a smooth arm swing rather than the common "hit and hope" stroke syndrome that I sometimes deal with on a daily basis when teaching my students. This drill gets your mind focused on the feel for the distance and on visualizing the line of the putt and your target. Another way to look at it is to think of shooting a free throw. What are your chances of making a free throw if you're looking at the ball and not the hoop? Practicing your putts while looking at the hole reinforces your ability to better control how far your golf ball rolls with strokes of varying lengths.

Now, to add this drill and exercise on course, while you're doing your practice strokes before you putt, look up at the hole feeling as if you're doing the Heads-Up Drill, visualizing and feeling the distance. Commit to the stroke, and execute! Add this to your preshot routine, and you'll definitely improve your putting.

It's okay to look at the ball while setting up, but be sure and look at the target before you make a stroke.

Hold the head in the same position until the ball stops. You'll get a good feel for how the ball rolls with strokes of different lengths.


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