Category Archives: putting

A Fine Point in the Putting Setup

When you place the putter behind the ball preparatory to making a putt, it is a good idea to leave a gap of about an inch between the putter and the ball instead of being right up next to it.

1. It prevents you from accidentally moving the ball with the putter as you complete your setup.

2. It makes it easier to put a forward press into your stroke.

3. It encourages the feeling of swinging through the ball instead of hitting at it.

Three Ways to Read Subtle Breaks in the Green

Sometimes you have a makeable putt that you think must break, but you can’t really tell if it goes left or right. There are three ways you can read the green to find out.

The first way? Back up. Way up. Get about 30 feet from the hole. From that distance, breaks get revealed that would be unnoticeable from right behind the ball, especially when there is no local slope, but the entire green is tilted one way or the other.

Second, when you look at the putt from the side, which you should do routinely to check on uphill or downhill slopes, also look to see if the green is sloping toward you or away from you. A green sloping toward you will of course break in that direction, and vice versa.

The third way is the best one. Stand up behind the ball, take a sidestep to the left, and have a look. Now get back behind the ball, take a sidestep to the right, and look again.

From one side you will see the green looking the same as it does from behind the ball, but from the other side it will seem like you are looking into a slope.

So if you see that slope when you step to the right, for example, you know that the putt will break left to right. If you see the slope when you step to the left, the putt breaks right to left.

This video tip shows you how it works.

A Cure for the Yips?

A few posts ago I mentioned some things I am doing with my putting.

One of them was to think of swinging the shaft of the club, not the clubhead.

Today when I was playing (solo) I yanked a three-foot put two times in a row (the real putt and a do-over).

I realized I was thinking about the clubhead. I tried again and just swing the shaft back and forth, got a pure stroke, and the putt went straight in.

Just a thought.

A Few Putting Improvements

I’ve been doing a few things lately that have improved my putting. You might want to see if they make any difference for you.

1. I hover the putter slightly at address rather than resting it with its full weight on the ground. That way I can take the putter directly back from the ball and not have to lift it while I take it back.

2. I think of the ball being transparent to the putter such that the ball will be stuck first on the side closest to the hole (yellow dot). I even look at that spot when I putt. That takes all the “hit” out of the stroke. At the time I would brace for that little hit, it has already occurred. (And if you think you don’t brace for the hit, think again. You do.)

3. Instead of swinging the putter head, I swing the shaft. The arms and shoulders rock, the wrists do not break, but swinging the shaft is the important thing.

How to Practice Long Putts at Home

If you practice putting at home, it’s probably confined to short putts–eight feet or so at most.

While those are important putts to practice, longer ones need your attention, too. By that I mean, 20, 30, and 40-foot putts. But who has a living room that is 40 feet long?

You can still get it done. Set up on the carpet with a rubber “hole” about six feet away, and with a backstop behind it.

Instead of making a stroke for a six-foot putt, make a stroke for a 20-foot putt, say.

The putt should roll directly over the center of the hole. A bit off to the side won’t do. Dead center.

This drill teaches you to acquire a long putting stroke that is just as controlled and reliable as your shorter six-foot stroke. That might be an unappreciated skill. It is an important one.

The length of an approach putt stroke can get your putter out of whack directionally, both with its swing path and the orientation of the face.

You should also practice hitting the ball on the putter’s sweet spot, which is key to consistent distance control with long putts.

There’s more.

At the range, do The Number One Approach Putting Drill, and remember what those different distance strokes feel like.

Then you can practice actual distance control at home, even though the ball only goes six feet, by folding those memorized strokes into this drill.

Incremental Putting Drills

I have been doing this new putting drill for the past few days, something that I just fell into doing when I wasn’t paying attention.

In my back room there is an 8′ carpet on the floor. I started putting from two feet, then began moving the ball back a slight bit for each successive putt.

I thought I would formalize the drill, so the ball gets moved back one ball-width each time, out to about 7½ feet. If you measure it strictly, that’s 39 putts.

I doesn’t take too long to complete the drill, and you get a lot of good practice at making the same stroke every time.

Years ago I did a drill going in the other direction. It takes about 20-odd golf balls to do this.

Putt a ball to about six or seven feet a way. It doesn’t matter where it ends up. Putt the next ball so it j-u-u-st touches the ball you just hit. Continue.

What you should end up with is however many balls in a straight line, all touching each other.

This is a great drill for short putt distance control, something that is more important than you might think.

My Putting Stance

Sometimes I fall into something quite by accident and I find out that it works really well. Most of the time these accidents don’t work so well, but here’s one that does, in regard to putting.

When I take my stance, my upper arms arm press lightly against my torso. Don’t worry, this isn’t anchoring. That only applies to fixing the forearm(s) against something.

Try this. Sit in a chair, press your upper arms lightly against your torso, put your forearms straight out (parallel to the floor), and join your hands.

Now swing your arms back and forth, sliding them against your torso. See how your hands return to their exact staring spot?

If you putt using this setup and motion, your putter will moving along the right path when it hits the ball, and the putter face will be as square as it was at address.

What more can you ask for?

For short putts, your torso doesn’t have to turn, but for approach putts it’s O.K. if it does, and it should, actually.

Combine this with spot putting and you’ll be way ahead of the game, in my experience.

Putting? I Don’t Care

When I go to the range, I practice chipping a lot. I am really good at chipping, if I may say so.

I get four golf balls, chip them to a hole, and putt them out. Chipping is the up part. You have to practice the down part, too.

Sometimes I’ll not use a putter to putt out with, though. I’ll just walk up there with my wedge and putt out with it. And you know, they all go in! I even make six-footers by just walking up and knocking the ball in with the leading edge of a wedge.

You know why? Because I don’t care if the ball goes in. I’m just cleaning up. There is no pressure on the “putt” because I don’t put on any.

Maybe that’s the way we should hit short putts on the course. Just walk up, take a quick read, and hit the putt (but with your putter, of course).

But we don’t do it because if we did miss one, we would say. “See? I didn’t take care and look what happened,” forgetting that if you had taken care you might have missed it anyway, not because of your read, or your stroke, but because of your mental approach.

So if you aren’t satisfied with your short putting, try caring bit less. Maybe a lot less. I’ll think you will miss fewer, and make more.

Worth a try.

By the way, short putts never break as much as you think they will if you hit them hard enough. You know, don’t give away the hole?

What I Learned at the Range – 3/24/22

Good day at the range. I used to be very good with a driver, but a few years away from the game was enough for me to forget how to swing it. Or any golf club, for that matter.

I had developed an arms-oriented swing, but it was too much arms. I had forgotten about the lower body, so I added in the hips and knees. Still no good.

You can get away with stuff with irons, but not with the driver. Somehow today, I realized that I had forgotten about my torso on the forward swing. It’s part of the sequence and I had left it out.

The hips turn, the torso turns, the arms swing, in that order. Instant success! Nice, straight fairway-finders. They fly a bit low, though, so I’ll get a lesson to help me with that.

Then there’s putting. When I watch the close-ups on TV of the touring players taking the putter back, it goes back as if it is on a rail. Perfectly straight back. Mine wobbles a bit, and I for the life of me couldn’t figure out how not to have that happen.

And today, for some reason, I gripped down on the handle so I was holding it in the middle, not near to the top. Instant success!

I was now holding the putter at its balance point and it started back with no wobble.

When I go to the range, I leave myself open to figuring out new things. I do that by never taking anything for granted. There is another way to do anything, and if you try it, that might be a better way.

To finish my day at the range, I always hit a few approach putts using my TAP method. It’s scary how well that works.