Category Archives: putting

Distance Control On the Green

I was browsing through the blog just now and read a post from 2010 about finding the speed of a putt. That is, if it’s X feet to the hole, how hard do I hit it?

There was one comment in that post that not only gets you in the ball park, it puts you right next your seats, to extend the metaphor.

Go the practice green and learn how to hit putts of 10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet, and 40 feet. Learn to feel the stroke that puts the ball right next to the hole from each of these distances.

Take touch, which can vary from day to day, out of the picture by making the length of your stroke your sole distance generator.

If you are between distances, say 25 feet, make a practice stroke with the 20-foot stroke, another with the 30-foot stroke, and then one in between, which you will use for the putt. You would do the same if the putt is 20 feet but uphill, or 30 feet and downhill.

The more you calibrate your golf, the easier it gets.

Practice Approach Putting at Home

Everyone can practice 4-footers at home. I hope you do.

But the other putts we need to practice, the long ones, we can’t practice unless we get to the range.

I found a way to practice them, in part, at home. You can’t practice distance control, but you can practice directional control.

First, you need a “hole” to aim at. The rubber grippers sold in grocery stores make a perfect one.

Stand about eight feet from the rubber hole, with a backstop behind it about three inches high.

Hit the ball as you would a 40-foot putt, say. Watch the ball. It should roll over the dead center of the rubber hole.

The longer stroke an approach putt requires can get your stroke out of whack directionally. This is one way to get good at not letting that happen.

Hover Your Putter

I was at the range today, spending a lot of time by myself, as usual, on the practice green.

Part-way through that session, I reminded myself of something that really makes a difference in how to strike putts. That is to hover your putter above the grass before you take it away.

If you take the putter back from resting on the ground, you have to do two things: lift the putter up and then take it back. Because you are moving the putter through two directions and not one, the clubhead can end up wobbling back and forth bit as you take it back, not so much you would notice, but enough to feel like you aren’t really in control of the club.

But if the putter hovers in the air it can be taken away with a hitch, literally, so it swings back and forth in a pure swinging movement.

It also felt to me like I could make a gentler stroke and not have to work at controlling the club.

I found such a stroke rolled short putts with authority and approach putts didn’t feel like they had to be hit so hard.

Have you ever stubbed your putter on the green before it hit the ball on your through-stroke? Won’t happen if your putter is off the ground the entire way.

Give it a try, see if you like it.

The Pop Putting Stroke

Some time ago, it might have been in the early 2000s, The Golf Channel showed old All-Star Golf episodes after hours.

These were matches filmed from the late 1950s to the early 1960s featuring two Tour pros in an 18-hole stoke play competition. The winner got $2,000 and the loser $1,000. Back then that was good money and they got everybody to appear.

I taped a lot of them.

There was one match with Bob Rosburg, who was recognized as one of the best putters of his time. He had something of a pop putting stroke, and was very good at it.

Since I’m wiling to try anything, I tried it out a few years ago, had some fun with it, and forgot about it. But I came back to it recently.

My version of the stroke is to take the club back only a very short distance, two inches, and give the ball a firm rap. There isn’t much of a follow-through.

I make the stroke with my hands, but I have to be careful to make it a controlled stroke and not a quick stab or a jab.

Because the stroke is so short, all the power comes from the pop you give to the ball with the right hand (lefties, it would be your left hand). Most of your practice with this stoke is in learning how to make a smooth hit.

The major benefit of this stroke is that the backswing is so short that the face of the club never gets out of square. There’s no “swinging door” that has to get itself back to square at just the right moment. Performed correctly, the ball goes where you aimed the face, guaranteed.

The pop stroke works great in my back room on the deck carpet, and it works great on the course. The ball runs right to the hole and falls in. A lot.

I use it for makeable putts, of no more than about twelve feet, where direction is paramount. Longer than that, getting the distance right takes over so I switch to a normal sweeping stroke because it controls distance better than a quick pop.

So this is something for you to play with, something different to try. Can’t hurt, might help.

The Number One Approach Putting Drill

Hi, there!

You didn’t really think I was going away for good, did you? Heck, no.

I’m still here, but I will devote my efforts solely to making videos.

In fact, there is a new one on YouTube right now.

It’s called The Number One Approach Putting Drill, and it is. Spend fifteen minutes with this drill a couple of times a week and you will become a deadly approach putter.

My Conception of Golf Technique

Over the years I have sprinkled certain themes throughout my posts. I say them over and over because they work—not only for me, but for everybody.

To save you the trouble of searching for what you might not know is even there, here it all is. This post summarizes my thoughts. If you do all these things (and there aren’t many) you will play better golf.

The Swing

Control your tempo by starting the club forward at the same speed with which you brought it up.

Do not let the suspension point move.

Your hands must lead the clubhead into the ball. Accomplish this by feeling the butt end of the handle moving leftward from the start of the forward swing through impact.

Short Game

With a chip and a pitch, think of sliding the sole of the club underneath the ball. Do not hit down on the ball.

With a chip, use one swing and several clubs to regulate distance.

With a pitch, use two or three lengths of swing (your choice) and several clubs to regulate distance.


Hit the ball on the sweet spot of the putterface.

Let the length of the backswing be the sole distance generator.

Technique is less important than mentally bearing down the hole.

An Anchored Putting Revival

Those of my readers who have been around for a few years remember my displeasure with the anchored putting ban. Search the tag “anchored putting” to read about that. There’s no point here in going over plowed ground.

You can still anchor your stroke, though, and I do it to great effect. I was doing it long before the ban. I putted then, and now, really well with it, and it is the foundation of my putting stroke.

What I do is bring my upper arms in contact with the sides of my torso. Light contact, not pressing. Pressing would make it almost impossible to move the putter. Just light contact so the upper arms stay in contact with the torso the whole time–slide over it, if you will.

That’s how I anchor my stroke. If my upper arms ride free in the air, they can go places they shouldn’t go to. By letting them slide freely in contact with my immovable body, they are guided along a predictable path consistently.

Combine that with a putting grip that does not allow my hands to wander, and I have the greater part of the stroke pretty well taken care of.

This anchoring gives me a mental boost, too. It creates a feeling of security that prevents any worry about moving the club from creeping in. I can concentrate on the only thing that is important–the ball going into the hole.

Anchoring works, or the USGA wouldn’t have outlawed it. This way of anchoring works, too, and it is legal.

For now.