putt basics

Putt Basics – Improve Your Golf Score by Improving Your Putting

Every golfer wants to improve their golf – even the best golf professionals in the world. Improving golf is one of the most fascinating things about the game, and ironically probably one of the most annoying as well!

But how do you improve your golf, and what is the definition of improving your golf?

Is improving your golf about:-

  • Driving the ball further?
  • Hitting the ball straighter?
  • Getting out of the bunker first shot every time?
  • Recovering from the rough?

There are many ways to improve your golf, but the one thing every golfer wants to do to improve their golf is

HIT LOWER GOLF SCORES and IMPROVE THEIR HANDICAP

To do this you need to analyse your game to spot your weak spots. There are lots of ways to do this, but here are some really useful ones:-

  • How many fairways are you hitting?
  • When you chip or pitch, how often do you get the ball within 8 feet of the hole?
  • How many putts are you taking on each green and in total?
  • What percentage of shots are you hitting from within 100 yards?
  • How many greens are you hitting in ‘regulation’?
    I.e. If you hit the green on a par 3 with your tee shot, that is hitting a green in regulation. For a par 4 you need to hit the green in two shots to count it as hitting the green in regulation.
    *** Make sure you take your handicap into account when calculating this! ***
  • Once inside 30-40 yards, how many shots (including putts) do you take to hole the ball?

What the vast majority of golfers find is that by far the highest percentage of shots is hit from within 100 yards, and certainly for beginners and higher handicappers.

And now think about how much time you spend working on this part of your game?

If you really want to improve your golf you need to work on your weak spots. Hitting the ball another 10 or 20 yards isn’t really going to improve your golf if you are then going to keep taking another three, four or more shots to get the ball into the hole!

If you find that your putting is the weakest part of your game (and MANY amateurs do), you’ve come to the right site. It might not look as impressive as blasting a 300 yard drive down the fairway, but what counts is your score, not how far you hit it!

So start improving your golf by improving your putting game!

Putt Basics

Putting is an area that produces a variety of styles and techniques.

Look at the players on the putting green some day and you’ll see toes pointed every which way, elbows in, elbows out, arms bent, arms straight. There are a bunch of different ways that people place their hands on the club. Cross-handed putting is becoming increasingly popular. And now with the advent of the extra-long putter, there are thousands of types of putters on the market to further confuse you.

Keeping the Putting Basics in Mind

Great putters do not all do the same things to get the ball in the hole, but there are a few things that are common among them and these are the essential things you need to keep in mind while you putt.

To master the basics of putting you need to go through five stages, being grip, setup, pendulum motion, drills and custom fit.

Let’s look at each one of these in more detail

Grip

If the shaft had an extension coming out of grip, it would find itself between the forearms, not above or below. In other words, the grip is held more through the lifelines of the hands than through the fingers.

There is no consensus on how hard grip pressure should be.

Wristy putters are a bit soften, while arm-and-shoulder putters have been known to squeeze a bit harder to freeze the wrists.

Whatever pressure they do use, however, is constant. Changing your hand pressure during the course of the stroke makes the face turn subtly in your hands.

Some of the great putters have used a little wrist motion, some a lot. Wristy putters have to be very rhythmic and accelerate at about the speed of gravity. No jerky motion with these players. Arm-and-shoulder putters try to eliminate wrist motion. Most will swing back and through with the even acceleration of a pendulum.

I start with a sound putting grip, were the back of the left wrist stays firm and the grip pressure is light.

Start with the putter grip going through the left hand to the centre of the wrist, the right hand should stay neutral to the putter. The first finger of the left hand taken off and placed over the fingers of the right hand – this is called the Reverse Overlap Grip (as shown in the picture).

The idea of the grip is to promote very little wrist action, this in turn will help promote a good putting stroke and lower your score.

If you still have a problem with keeping the left wrist firm, you could try the Cross-Handed Grip where the left hand is placed below the right.

This is an alternative for players who have excessive wrist action or you could try a larger putter grip.

Either of these might help especially if you are suffering from missing short putts.

Setup

The setup is one of the areas that tour players spend time working on when they practice their putting. The ball can be placed anywhere from the middle of the stand to an inch inside the left heel. I recommend an inch inside the left heel to promote a slight up motion of the putter on impact.

This in turn will help to promote a better roll and keep the ball on line for longer. A good practice drill would be to place a coin behind the ball, making sure you don’t hit the coin when you make the putting stroke.

Pendulum Motion

Once you have developed a good grip and setup, check you have the correct posture by dropping a ball from your left eye so it drops directly onto the ball on the ground.

From this position a good Pendulum Motion can be made by placing your club under your arms so it goes across your chest parallel to the ball target line.

This will create a triangle with your shoulders and arms. Know you can take the putter on a slight inside move back from the ball. This in turn leads to a rocking motion of the shoulders, and on the forward move try to keep the putter going through the target line keeping the left wrist firm.

Drills to Improve Feel and Confidence

Remember most golfers lose more shots putting than at any other part of the game, simply because they have an incorrect stroke or little feel for distance and average, between 38 to 42 putts per round, while the top pros average 27 to 30 putts.

Put 3 tee pegs on the green at 8, 16 and 22 feet apart and with your eyes shut try to putt a golf ball the different distances. After a few practice sessions, your feel for distance will improve so when you are playing on the course, the feel for length of your putts will improve.

Practice this at all different lengths of putt.

Place 6 golf balls, 3 feet away from the hole and with the putter placed behind the ball, make no back swing, and push the ball into the hole.

Try this up to 7 feet away from the hole. The idea with this drill is to feel the back of the left hand and putter face going towards the target.

Custom Fitting Your Putter

Putting a key part of the game, yet golfers tend to spend far more time and money trying to find a driver that will add those few extra yards on their drives rather than improving their putting.

Here are a few ideas on what to look for when finding a new putter:

Personal preference is an important factor when choosing the shape or feel of your putter.

Generally, I would recommend that the putter sole lies flat at address. This will encourage you to look straight down on top of the ball as I discussed earlier.

If the putter was too flat the heel of the putter would be off the ground, which could lead to you pushing the ball right of the hole, but if the toe of the putter was to much off the ground, you may putt the ball left of the hole.

From this you can see how important the lie of the putter becomes and the old saying “drive for show and putt for dough” is so true.

All putts have loft on them, but how much loft depends on the manufacturers. It can range from 2 degrees to 6 degrees depending on the model.

For instance, a golfer who has a forward press may benefit from a putter with more loft, a golfer who addresses his hands behind the ball, may benefit from a putter with less loft.

This can also change if the golfer plays on faster or slower greens, those that play on faster greens may use a putter with less loft than those that play on slower greens, they could benefit from a putter with more loft.

To conclude here’s a putting technique you might wish to try out

Conclusion

Researchers have discovered that the better tour players have instinctively learned to lower their heart rate just before the stroke.

That serves to steady them at just the right time, similar to the biathlon, when the skier must stop and shoot a rifle. These athletes have learned to control the level of their heartbeat, as well.

Perhaps the most important thing that great putters have in common is great speed control. You can’t pick an accurate line without first determining the proper speed.

The best speed is the one that would roll the ball about 1½ feet beyond the cup if it were covered with plastic wrap. The last thing a good putter thinks about before the motion begins is how hard he or she has to hit it. So, if you do nothing else to change your putting technique, teach yourself to roll the ball at the right speed.