A few weeks ago I went over my putting setup and stroke in detail. It’s one thing to putt on your carpet at home. It’s quite another to putt on live greens. This post is about how I get the ball in the hole.
For makable putts, of eight feetish or under, I am definitely challenging the hole. Putts around 15 feet and longer I am just trying to get the ball near the hole so luck can take over.
For the in-between distances, it depend on how I’m feeing that day. With a twelve-foot putt I might be go for it one day, or just try to get it close on another.
In any case, I use a spot putting system. When I line up my putt I will pick out a spot on the green about two inches in front of the ball. Dave Stockton likes one inch, but that’s too close for me.
When I putt, all I’m concerned about is making that two-inch putt. Then, with the right pace and a good read the ball will go in the hole.
I find if I don’t spot putt, but think all the way to the hole, I end up trying to steer the ball in, and that seldom works.
As for pace, you learn that only by practicing. I practice pace a lot, with 20- to 40-foot putts, because that is the way to avoid three-putt greens. I like to the ball to end up within five percent of the total distance.
The same goes for green-reading. You can only learn that from practice. So practice!
Good putting is as much in your mind as in all the technical matters. The one thought I have heard good putters talk about and which really works is this: as you are about to make your stroke, you cannot care whether the ball goes in the hole or not.
Get prepared for the putt, and think only about making that two-inch putt. As for the actual putt, you will either make it or miss it, and some of the difference is up to the putting surface, which you have no control over. You can hit the perfect putt and it might not go in.
So do all that, and apply the mechanics you learned in your back room, and practice(!), and you’ll be a much better putter.
And what do I mean by practice? Spend as many minutes on the putting green as you do on the range hitting balls.