Improve Your Putting Stroke

You had a six-footer all lined up and you missed it. You thought you had it in the bag and it just didn’t happen. What went wrong? Did you make a bad read? Was it your stroke? Maybe a bit of both? How do you know which?

Well, you can’t know, but you can make sure it wasn’t your stroke by getting your stroke schooled to the point where every putt directs the ball exactly where you want it to go. Let’s mention a few little things that will help you get it right.

Posture. Stand up to the ball, bent over comfortably at the hips, lower back straight. Hang the putter straight down with the end of the putter grip in front of your left eye. The shaft should cover the ball. This ensures your eyes are directly over the line of the putt.

Aim. Find a no-break putt on the practice green. Lay a club down in front of the ball, pointing at the hole. Lay another club down parallel to it, about a foot away on the side where you’ll be standing. Pick up the first club. Line up your feet and shoulders parallel to the second club. Your stroke is now aimed at the hole.

Alignment. Draw a line around a golf ball’s equator. Put the ball on the ground with the line running right through the pole of the ball, i.e., not tilted to one side. Putt the ball. If the line does not wobble, your putterface was square and aligned at impact. This is a critical point.

Sweet spot. Impact on this spot transfers all the energy of the putt to the ball, in line with the stroke. Tap the putterface with your fingertip rapidly back and forth along the face until you find the spot were the putter does not rotate when tapped. Practice hitting the ball on the sweet spot. When so hit, the ball will leap off the face, your hands will feel no shock of impact, and the ball will make a distinctive sound.

Path. The putter should be swinging along your starting line for short putts. Rock your shoulders back and forth when you putt, and have a feeling of the right upper arm continuing forward on the follow-through.

Stroke. If you think of the putting stroke as a movement back and a movement through, that’s two things, and your mind can stop in middle. Even though the stroke changes direction, think of it as one movement, not two. This is calming to the mind and body.

One Correction. I see golfers all over breaking their left wrist in the follow-through. None of ‘em can putt worth a lick. Enough said.

After you get your stroke fixed up, getting the ball in the hole is up to your read and the vagaries of the imperfect ground the ball rolls over, but that’s another lesson.

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