How to Become a Better Putter

How to Become a Better PutterThe quickest way to lower your score is to practice your short game.  Most people don’t spend enough time practicing their putting, chipping, pitching and bunker shots.  By practicing your putting you will not only gain confidence but should be able to avoid three-putt greens. 

To get your putting on track, play the ball slightly forward in your stance, under your left eye (for a right-handed player – right eye for left-handed player) and swing like a pendulum from your shoulder, not with the forearms and wrist.   

A good drill to use is the “two tee” drill.  Place a golf tee at the toe and the heel of your putter to create a “gate.”  Make your putting stroke with a ball and try not to hit the tees while making your stroke.  Once you’ve successfully hit five or six putts and have a feel of making a stroke, move back behind the two tees and try to put through the two tees to the hole.  You will find out quickly if you have a smooth back-and-through stroke or if you swing from inside-to-outside or from outside-to-inside.  Many amateur golfers think they putt with a smooth back-and-through stroke, when they actually either cut across the putt or stab at it.  Your goal is to make a smooth stroke to roll the ball and not have the ball skid with a jab or punch-type stroke.

Another good drill to try will help you keep your wrists still so you can avoid being a “wrist putter.”  Hit a few putts wearing a golf glove with a pop-sicle stick (wooden coffee stir stick, golf pencil, or golf tee) just inside the cuff of the glove.  When you make your putting stroke, if you break your wrists, the stick will hit you in the wrist.  Practice a smooth putting stroke without breaking your wrist and getting jabbed by the stick, pencil or tee. 

Always begin with short putts – like a putter-length from the hole (34”-36”) as this will help build your confidence in making three-foot putts.  Try to make 5, 7 or 10 putts in a row.  Once you make your specified number of putts in a row, move back to two putter-lengths and try to make the same number of consecutive putts.  You will be amazed at how easy this becomes.  If you miss a putt, go back to the three-foot length and make your consecutive putts.  By practicing this way, you can easily transition this drill to the course with new found putting confidence.

Here are some reminders when putting:

  • Relaxed posture and comfortable over the ball
  • Constant grip pressure – not too firm and not loose
  • Eye position – over the ball
  • Ball position – slightly forward
  • Green alignment (all putts are straight - only the ground curves)
  • Hand position varies among the best in the world (what is constant is that their palms face each other)
  • Practice with eyes closed to elevate feel
  • Distance more important than direction
  • Set the face first, then take address
  • Practice setting face on a 90-degree angle (mower line green/fringe)

Remember to spend 50 percent of your practice time on your short game and you’ll see immediate results in your confidence and scores!  Check back next week for short game hints when chipping.