Friday, August 1, 2003
One Hour To Better Putting
A tried-and-true method for becoming a lights-out putterFor 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.
For putting practice, I recommend the following routine, which places an emphasis on the most important aspects of becoming a good putter. This practice schedule is simple to follow and doesn’t require a lot of time (an hour to be exact). So the next time you face difficult, lightning-fast greens, such as those featured here on Kiawah Island, you’ll be prepared to hole more putts and post your best scores ever.
Green Reading (5 Minutes)
In order to get aligned correctly, a player must know where he or she is trying to aim, then get the putterface and body in the proper positions. Start each practice session by practicing green reading. Here are some keys to learning to read greens.
- Survey the lay of the land and the general terrain before you reach the green. Look for high and low areas and sense the basic slope of the surrounding area.
- The lower you can get on the putting surface to view these characteristics, the better.
- In choosing your line, first determine the speed, then choose an aiming line. When in doubt, choose a minimum speed with a maximum amount of break.
After judging the contours of the green and hitting the putt, compare your read to the way the ball actually behaved. For a badly misread putt, stop and take a moment and see what was missed in assessing the slope.A good habit to get into is to align the logo of the ball (or a straight-line marking) along the intended aiming line. This will take the guesswork out of alignment and make it easier to diagnose any mechanics problems.
Putting Mechanics (25 Minutes)
The goal of a good putting stroke is to consistently strike the ball solidly in the direction the putter is aligned with the proper pace. This is the essence of putting and, accordingly, this will be the biggest part of your putting hour. Concentrate on five main areas.
1) Setup And Alignment:
With the logo on your golf ball aligned at the proper aiming point, it should be easy to set the putterface to this line. Often, it’s helpful to have a putter with lines or marks to help visualize the alignment. Make sure your arms are hanging freely, that your eyes are over or slightly inside the ball/target line and, most importantly, that your shoulders are square to the target. I use a small mirror to check my alignment and eye position.
2) Stroke Length:
Place a piece of tape on a yardstick at the 18-inch mark (center). Then, place tape every four inches from this center mark. Address the center mark and make strokes to the first piece of tape on the backstroke and the corresponding piece of tape on the forwardstroke. Incorporate this length with the good rhythm from the metronome drill (see #5). Next, place a ball adjacent to the center mark and make your four-inch backstroke and four-inch throughstroke with good rhythm. Hit several putts, then average the distance they travel. Repeat at different length strokes and soon you’ll have a good understanding of how long a stroke is required in any situation.
3) Body Stability:
During the putting motion, it’s imperative that the body remain very still. Any motion will cause your putter path to be inconsistent, which makes solid contact almost impossible. My favorite thought is to imagine a small coin under the ball at address. After my stroke, I don’t look up until I can identify the denomination—usually, this takes a count of one. Keeping your eyes focused on the impact area will greatly limit any tendency to move the body.
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