Don't overlook your putting
Updated: Apr 2, 2018
If you are a golfer who has multiple three and four putts per round with the occasional one or two putt you may find that improving your putting technique may be the quickest way to lower your current scores. Let’s be honest, practicing putting can be boring and how do we know if we are actually getting better at it?
What do you have to do to be a consistent putter? Lets start with my top three things.
1. Control your ball speed.
2. Learn how to roll your ball on your intended line
3. Double the amount of break that you see
If you can do these three things more consistently you will make more putts. Of the three, learning to control your ball speed is by far the most important. Most golfers don’t miss the hole to far left or right unless there is a lot of undulation (slope) in the green, but leaving the ball well short of the hole or hitting it miles past is quite common among poor putters. Take some of the boredom out of your putting practice by practicing the following.
1. So how do you control your ball speed?
Let’s start with the lag tee drill.
On a fairly flat putting green place tees or old cd disks at 10, 20, 30 and 40ft distances.
Practice hitting two balls to each tee position. Try to make the practice very random. I.e., Start at 20ft and then go to 40ft and then go to 10ft etc.
Your swing should feel like it’s initiated more from your shoulders and arms and less with your hands. The key to getting the ball to roll out to various distances on longer putts is to have low-tension in your hands and arms and a higher tempo.
*If you increase your tempo but don’t decrease your tension you will hit it too far.
*If you have a slow backswing you will generally have higher tension on the forward swing, resulting in more tension in hands and arms creating inconsistencies in speed.
Both of these swings minimize the feel element in the putting stroke.
2. Learn how to roll your ball on your intended line.
Once you get a feel for how to control ball speed, use the drill below to improve the direction you start your putts on.
In this illustration I’m using a suspended string line about 6 feet from the cup. The putt is very flat with no break. The objective in this exercise is to get the ball rolling directly down the string line and into the cup. Once you able to do this with some consistency, move on to the third step below.
3. Double the amount of break that you see.
Almost everyone I teach, who struggles with putting, will under-read their putts by at least half. This means if you think it breaks (curves) 1ft it probably breaks closer to 2ft.
Is it possible to make a putt that you under-read?
It sure is, but if you miss the hole you’re looking at a likely three putt because in order to make a putt that is under-read you need to hit it firmer in order to keep it on that line. If you have more than your fair share of three putts in a round, a good rule of thumb is to double the amount of break you think you see. The illustration below shows two different aim points. One of the aim points is the apex (white box) of the intended curve of the ball and the second is at the tru aim point. If you aim at the apex there is a good chance you will miss the hole on the low side. On a right to left putt, envision the ball rolling in the hole between the 9 o’clock and 8 o’clock position, not the 6 o’clock position. If you double the amount of break, or aim more right of the apex you will have a much better chance of hitting the hole with the correct speed. So, a good thought would be, aim higher and hit it softer, so that the ball curves more with better delivery speed.