Putting Absolutes

Drain It From Everywhere

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When it comes to putting, personal preference almost always wins. It’s safe to assume there’s more than one way to become a successful putter, since so much of being a better putter has to do with finding a style and stroke that’s comfortable for you. If you’re comfortable, you’ll be more confident; and if you’re confident, it’s more likely you’ll make a better stroke through the ball. But, there remain some absolutes that I think are critical for better putting that everybody should work into their game. These are the kinds of things that, no matter what type of putting stroke you have, ought to be ingrained into your putting routine. Let’s take a look at a few, and learn how you can work these absolutes into your game to become a better putter.

Rehearse The Break

If you’re faced with a breaking putt, it’s imperative that you rehearse in your mind the impending path that the ball will need to roll on to make the putt. In this photo, as I set up, I’m still visualizing not only the hole, but also the path. If I were to focus only on the target, which in this case is the hole, I’d likely lose sight of the break and, as most amateurs do, not play for enough curve. Also, for example, when you play a breaking putt, remember that a breaking putt is always longer in length than the actual distance between you and the hole. Meaning, even if I’m only 10 feet away on a given putt, the ball might actually have to travel 12 feet on a curve to reach the hole. Hence, when playing the breaks, rehearse your stroke for the length of the putt with the break, not the length you are from the hole.

The Hands Matter

How you hold the putter affects how you stroke the putt. I like to see golfers use their hands together as a unit, since it both helps to get the hands working together in unison and prevents one from dominating the other. A quick tip to remember to keep the hands together is to make sure you can only see the top of one thumb (your lower hand) when you make your grip. I prefer to grip more in the fingers than the palms, but it really comes down to personal preference. Nevertheless, if you’re sticking with a traditional grip or even a left-hand low grip, make sure the hands are together as a unit.

The reverse overlap is a great grip. It may not seem like such a big deal to extend the index finger over the upper hand, but what that actually does is help prevent the breakdown of the wrists through the stroke. Give it a try. If that doesn’t feel right to you, keep the index finger wrapped around the grip, but again, it should overlap the pinky of your upper (right) hand. The hands don’t need to act as a quick-release power source, so anything you can do to inhibit excessive hinging through the stroke can and will help.

The Forward Press

What you don’t want to do when you make the forward press, is rotate the putterface open. Instead, make a forward press and keep the clubface square. And don’t worry if it looks as though you have excessively delofted the putter. At impact, the putter will be square and upright.
Phil Mickelson won The Masters this year by putting with a forward press. Like him, I’m a big believer in this motion since it helps get the stroke in motion before there’s any significant motion in the putterhead. This translates into a smoother takeaway and delivery into the ball on the forwardstroke. It also helps ensure you make contact with the hands either over or slightly in front of the ball, resulting in a truer, faster, end-over-end roll. To do a proper forward press, simply adjust the wrists toward the target a few inches before you start your backswing. Think of it as the first step, when you set the hands forward, and then the arms and shoulder take over and lead the stroke. Once you do that, make a normal putting stroke. You’ll quickly see that a forward press adds some length to your backswing, so don’t be surprised if, at first, a few putts roll past the hole.


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