The Other Game

If you want to be a complete golfer, you have to become a masterful putter

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Whether you take the club straight back and through or on an arc—where your putter travels from inside the target line, squares up and returns in the followthrough to inside the line—I encourage putting strokes to be basically of equal length on the backswing and followthrough. A putting stroke that's "even" in its backstroke and forwardswing length helps players control their putter better than a stroke that's "short to long" or "long to short."

By using a ruler or yardstick, I can work on swinging my putter back and through at the same length and with a good rhythm. Since the stroke length is impacted by green speed, grain and slope, alter how long or short your stroke is accordingly. All these elements have an effect on your stroke's length, but I truly believe learning to control your length of stroke consistently is an important key in becoming a great putter.

One of the classic things to do on the green is to check where your eyes are at setup. Depending on your putting style, the placement of your eyes plays a key role in helping you make the stroke you want. To check your eye position, get in your normal setup and drop a ball from your eyes. Take note of where it hits. If it hits the ball, your eyes are directly over the ball, and you're in a great position to have a "straight-back and straight-through" type of stroke. If your ball drops slightly to the inside of the ball, you should be making a stroke that has some "arc" to it, letting the putter work to the inside on the backswing and then swinging it back to the inside on the followthrough. If your ball drops to the outside of the ball, then you more than likely need to adjust your setup to get into one of the two positions I just talked about, because there have not been many, if any, great putters who set up with their eyes outside the ball.

Putt five balls from four different points around the hole, all from 3 to 5 feet, and watch your scores plummet.
If your distance control is good on lag putts, you should leave yourself a lot of short second putts. And if you're confident making 3- to 5-foot putts, you'll definitely save some shots and lower your scores.

To drain more short putts, lower your scores and boost your confidence, try this simple drill: Take five balls and try to make five in a row from four different points around the hole. It might take you a while the first time you try it, but if you stick with the drill, you'll gain confidence that you can make those "knee knockers" the next time you play.

Once you get really good at this drill, move back a foot or two and challenge yourself. One of the reasons the Tour pros rarely miss from this distance is that they practice these putts a lot. You should too!!


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