Down the stretch, the last thing you want is to find yourself uncomfortable over a short putt. In most cases, the yips comes from the golfer decelerating, the putter then strays offline and well, there you have a missed putt!
Unlike the full swing, putting requires the utmost in limited and controlled movements. Any swaying, lifting or sliding can cause you to miss putts. The same holds true for your eyes. Any deviation from the golf ball through impact can lead to a variety of mis-hits that affect not only your aim but your distance control as well.
Unlike the golf swing, there are almost no centrifugal forces at work in the putting stroke. Therefore, whatever you do at address pretty much determines what you’ll do with the putter during the stroke. In studying the best players on Tour, it’s easy to find common denominators in both their setup positions and strokes. Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, common traits run rampant in the setup positions of great putters. Specifically, they establish four key setup lines.
A square putterface and a straight-back, straight-through path are crucial fundamentals for a solid stroke. These two elements control direction, which is undeniably one of the two most important aspects of good putting. However, perhaps the most important fundamental, rhythm, is often overlooked. Rhythm establishes the steadiness of the putting stroke and is the main factor in controlling distance and speed. Rhythm is the heartbeat of a good stroke, and is at least as important, if not more so, than any other aspect of successful putting.
Take a look at 99 percent of the putters designed today and you’ll notice that if you hold the face up to a flat edge, the shaft actually leans away from the target. Manufacturers use this design to ensure that you press your hands forward at address, preserving the loft of the club and promoting more consistent impact. The key to understanding and using this fact to your advantage is to make sure you’re setting up in the correct fashion at address. To accomplish this, press your hands forward to the belt loop of your pants, just to the target side of your belt buckle.
The keys to great putting are really pretty simple. You must hit the ball squarely with the putterface, keep the putterhead moving level to the ground and square to your target line, and swing the putter at the proper speed to roll the ball the desired distance. To accomplish this more consistently, I recommend a grip that’s a bit revolutionary, but extremely effective.
Even though we all do it from time to time, there’s really no excuse for missing a relatively straight four- to six-foot putt. Here’s a visualization trick I use with my students to help take the anxiety out of these putts.