Drain It From Everywhere
This is a definite absolute! While there may have been a few players on Tour who preferred a stance away from the ball, most of the best putters unanimously agree that the best place to see the line and initiate your stroke is with your eyes directly over the golf ball. This is especially helpful for golfers who may struggle with strokes that drift too far inside or outside the intended path. Also, another benefit for positioning your eyes over the ball is that it ensures your head and eyes are in the same spot every time you putt. This will aid in your consistency and, again, make it a lot easier to aim directly at the hole.
Depending on what putting stroke you prefer, you need to know how to optimize it. If you prefer a straight-back and straight-through stroke, you need to make sure you allow the putter to swing higher both on the backswing and forwardstroke. If you try to keep the putter low with this putting style, you’ll lose any forward lean of the shaft and you’ll have a hard time being consistent. Conversely, if you arc your stroke from inside to inside the target line, you’ll want to keep the putterhead lower to the ground on the backswing and forwardstroke. This will help you better move the putterhead on an arc. Just remember, a true arcing stroke isn’t necessarily a stroke that opens and closes. The putterhead should always stay square to the arc, even if it opens and closes relative to the target line.
One of the biggest mistakes I see a lot of amateurs make is that they keep their head down through the stroke. By doing that, you not only lose your sense of feel for distance, direction and speed, but also inhibit the arms from swinging freely through the putting stroke, resulting in the body rotating, the hands taking over and so on. Instead, go ahead and watch that ball! See the effects your putting stroke has on the ball—notice how it rolls, the direction it goes, the speed it has. If you watch your putts, you’ll get a better idea of how they roll and you can simply make a few minor adjustments in your aim or stroke length and quickly be on your way to making more putts. Just remember this: Watching your putt doesn’t mean lifting at any point during the putting stroke. Instead, keep your head in position over your spine and rotate your head from side to side. Don’t lift it back and forward.
No matter where you find yourself on the putting green, whether you’re four feet or 40 feet, the basic rhythm and tempo of your swing should always be in sync. What that means is, the longer your putt, the longer your stroke. The shorter your putt, the shorter your stroke. Don’t try to force a short stroke on a long putt, or a long stroke on a short putt. Allow the length of your backswing and forwardstroke to adjust, depending on how far you are from the hole. This will then help you swing more rhythmically and in balance.
When it comes to making putts, why not try to make them all? In most cases, if you try to make a putt, rather than play it safe and “lag one close,” you’ll have better luck if you go for it! Try to make your putts, no matter how far you are from the hole. After all, the hole is the same size, whether you’re two feet away or 20 feet away, so don’t be intimidated by long putts and relegate yourself to trying to two-putt. Study every putt like it’s your last chance to save a stroke and be confident! You may find that not only will you make the occasional long putt, but your lag putts will get a whole lot better, as well.
Bobby Hinds, PGA, is well known throughout Southern California for his innovative short-game teaching philosophy. To learn more and to book a lesson, call (323) 363-7761.
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