Putting Mechanic

How to become one

The next time you play golf, I want you to count your total number of putts. Don't worry about how many putts you have per hole or how long or short they are. Just find your number. Once you have a number, I want you to divide the number of putts you made by the total number of strokes. Now, what's your percentage? I average somewhere around 35% on a good day, 50% on a bad day. You might have higher percentages, or maybe a little lower. Now, be completely honest with yourself. Do the percentages of your putts match up with the amount of time you spend practicing your putting? I'll bet you're nowhere close! Most golfers spend the majority of their time hitting woods and irons on the practice tee, when they should be devoting a lot more time to practicing their putting. And even more important than the time spent practicing your putting is using the time to practice effectively. This is what's known as practicing wisely, instead of practicing just for the sake of practicing, which sometimes can actually hurt your golf game.

In this article, I've taken a look at a handf­ul of putting elements that I think you should work on. It's the stuff that you can work on by yourself, without an instructor nearby. Just remember, the time you spend on your putting should reflect at least the percentage of your putting game in relation to your overall strokes. Now let's get started, shall we?


This may seem really obvious, but it's also one of the most overlooked aspects of the putting game. And I don't care what anyone has told you in the past, there's no one right way to address and stroke the golf ball. However, there are some constants I like to see with my students, but things like feet width, grip and so on are all matters of personal preference. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

In the photos above, I'm showing what I'd consider to be two ends of the spectrum when it comes to good putting. Starting with the left photo, I'm set up in a square position, my hands are directly over the golf ball, the ball is slightly forward of center, and my weight is slightly favoring my left side. This stance/setup position favors golfers who want an arcing stroke that naturally arcs from inside the target line on the backswing, square at impact and inside the target line on the followthrough. The key with this stroke is to remember that I mean arc relative to the target line, not the path of the putterhead. The path of the putter will naturally swing inside to inside, relative to the target line, but the clubhead should always stay square to the path on which the putterhead is traveling.

In this setup, my hands are directly over the golf ball, and my head is slightly behind the ball.

Here, my hands are ahead of the ball and my head is even further back behind the golf ball.

The other end of the spectrum is represented by the upper right photo. In it, you can see I have an open stance, and my weight is favoring more of my left side. The ball position is forward in my stance, and instead of the butt end of the putter pointing at my navel, it's more in line with my left arm. This stance/setup position is great for a stroke that moves inside the target line on the backswing and straight down the line on the followthrough.

Of these two putting stances/setups, the only thing I pay attention to is whether the position of the head and hands is too far behind the ball; I don't like the grip to look forced too low or too high on the grip, and I prefer that my students either favor their left side or, at worst, stay neutral.

I don't know if you noticed, but at this year's Memorial, Tiger putted with a hybrid of the two stances above. His upper body looked like the upper left photo, but his lower body was open to the target. Why did he do this? Probably because it felt most comfortable. And for you, that's the most important thing. Stick with a stance/setup that's most comfortable for you and that you can easily repeat.


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