Blog Post

Putting

Putting is often referred to as the game within a game, and this could be considered true.

There are very few similarities to the rest of the shots played, with the exception that the same keys to success exist.

 

These keys are vital ingredients for building a consistent and functional putting stroke that will knock shots of your rounds.

 

Putting differs from the rest of the game because you rely so heavily on it to make a score. We all notice and comment on the missed putts that may have cost us the weekend medal or the club championship. You hear commentators singling out the players who are “hot” on the greens today, and inevitably these guys are up near the top of the leader board. And it is no coincidence, putting is the catalyst to shooting low scores and winning tournaments.

 

The technique for putting has long been debated with many books written on how to improve your putting, how you should swing the blade and even which putters suit your swing. However ultimately the defining quality of a great putter is confidence, knowing that they can hole any putt, on any green every time they stand over the ball.

 

Becoming a great putter is about enjoyment, the love of practicing on the putting green and having sound basics.

 

The basics of a good putting stroke begin with the posture. I believe there are three major influences;

 

1 – The ball position

2 – The position of the hands

3 – The alignment of the putter face

 

I believe that everybody should have the ball positioned perfectly underneath the target eye (left eye for right handers). With the ball in this position you can better see the target line and if you wish the line that your putter takes. If your eyes are inside or outside of the target line then you will have a distorted view of where you are aiming and the path your club takes.

 

The hands should be positioned level with the ball, so that they are neither pushed forward or leaning back. I feel that this is the best position to get the putter working correctly and it allows you to get a good roll on the ball. It is one of my main philosophies when teaching, the club is designed in a certain way, why do you want to change it.

The hands should also be placed on the grip to encourage them to work together, in unison. For this I like my clients to ensure that when they open up their hands, leaving their thumbs pointing straight down the grip, their palms remaining facing one another.

 

How you place your hands on the grip is entirely up to you, as ling as your palms are facing each other.

 

Putter face alignment has the biggest influence on the putt, as you can imagine if you are not aiming the putter in the correct place you have little or no chance of hitting the ball down the intended target line.

The putter is one of the few clubs in the bag with built in alignment aids, small lines drawn on the top or back of the putter, balls, triangular shapes are all used, and it is down to you to find the style of putter that best fits your eye.

 

Learning to read a green is something that will help you choose the correct line, but there are a few little tips that will help you on your way to green reading.

  • Look for any water or water courses around the green. Almost all greens will fall towards the water meaning that the ball will follow a similar line.
  • Look at the entire landscape around the hole. If one side is higher that the other the ball will likely follow the gradient and lie of the land.
  • If the green looks silvery then you are putting “down grain” making the putt faster, if it looks very green you will be putting “into the grain” making the putt slower

 

Putting is all about practicing in the right way, learning how to control the distance is key.

My favorite practice exercise for practicing distance control is the 10 ball drill.

 

Collect 10 balls from your bag and place them in a straight line from the hole every 12 inches. Place a club or the flag 18 inches behind the hole. You have now created a “score zone”. Starting with the closest ball, you must putt the ball into the hole or the “score zone” to continue, if a ball stops short of the hole, or hits the flag you start over. Continue the exercise until you can get all 10 balls into the hole or “score zone”. You can modify the exercise by placing the balls closer or further apart or placing the balls on an uphill or downhill slope.

 

Practicing putting is extremely important and the way you practice also defines how quickly you will improve. I urge you to avoid the typical putting practice I see on the practice green; 3 balls putted towards a hole and sometimes holed out and sometimes swept away to do the same to another hole. This method of practice does not teach you anything other than complacency and will not improve your performance on the greens.

Until next time,

 

The Golf Swing Doctor

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