[January 2020 update: This is one of those things that worked for a while but which I have since moved away from. I’m leaving the post only to suggest a different thing to try.]
I went to the range a few days ago with my chipping clubs for my annual chipping formula tuneup.
I also brought a putter along, because why not, and because of something I tried while I was putting I’m going to write about putting today, not chipping.
Short putts are stressful. You have to do four things right to sink one: get the right line, get the right speed, align the putter, and make a pure stroke. The first three are purely intellectual, and are not terribly problematic from close in.
The stress starts when you stand over the putt, about to make the stroke. Everything you’ve done so far has been thinking, but you can’t think the ball into the hole. You have to deliver the goods with your body. That’s when nerves kick in.
The solution to all this is to simplify the stroke to minimize the possibility of a physical error. You do that by eliminating the backswing.
In the putting stroke, you start the putter moving, swing it back, stop, and reverse the direction of the putter. At any of those four moments, you can introduce an error into the alignment of the putterface, or the swing path.
By taking out the backswing, you remove all four of those opportunities for error from the stroke. There is nothing left but a pure forward motion of the putter along the starting line, with a square putterface.
If you made the right read and aligned your putter correctly, the ball will go in.
Here’s how it works.
Draw an imaginary line on the green that goes through the ball toward your aiming point. The line extends on both sides of the ball.
Set the putter down behind the ball, all lined up, then set it straight back about 4 inches behind the ball without disturbing the putterface alignment. Now just swing the putter gently forward, through the ball, along the imaginary line.
To keep yourself from jerking the club forward, pretend that you are compressing the distance between the putter and the ball. I know the sounds kind of odd, but try it and you will see what I mean.
I find this method to work best for putts of eight feet at most, better at six feet and under, because you don’t want to have any power in the stroke. Again, it’s just a gentle swing forward.
Do give this a try. Work on it a bit a home first, the take it to the practice green.
I can’t guarantee you will never miss a short putt again, but I think I can guarantee you’ll make more of them that you do now.