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  • Writer's pictureGarrett McMillan

Improve Your Putting: Proven Techniques and Drills

Putting is often considered the most crucial aspect of golf and is quite often overlooked by the average player. It's where the scores are ultimately determined, and even the slightest improvement in your putting game can have a significant impact on your overall performance. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned golfer looking to refine your skills, these tips will set you on the path to successful putting.


Master the Basics


Before we dive into techniques and drills, it's essential to have a solid grasp of the fundamentals. These are the building blocks of a great putting stroke.


Posture and Alignment:


  • Start by ensuring your body and putter are aligned with your target. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and your eyes directly over the ball. Use a club or alignment stick to help you visualize your target line. Here’s a quick drill you can use to help find your setup.

    • Stand straight up and hold your putter straight out in front of you.

    • Bend your elbows and tuck them against your rib cage.

    • Bend at the waist until the club is on the ground.

    • That’s your setup! Is your putter too far away and outside of your eye line? Then maybe your putter’s too long?

    • From here, the idea is to turn your rib cage around your spine, rocking back and forth, and take the “hit” out of the putting stroke.


Grip:


  • Find a grip that's comfortable and allows for minimal hand movement during the stroke. A popular choice is the reverse overlap or the claw grip.

  • Personally, there’s not a single golfer in the world who naturally grabs a club with the claw grip. It’s a last resort for a bad putter. There are great putters who use it, but they were driven to that in search of something. So start with a more traditional grip or even left hand low (for right handers).


Ball Position:


  • Place the ball slightly forward in your stance, under your lead eye. This ensures a consistent strike on the sweet spot of the putter.

  • Develop a smooth repeatable stroke and get rid of “The Hit.”


Techniques and Drills


A crucial element of successful putting is a smooth and repeatable stroke. What is “The Hit”? Have you ever been told you decelerated when putting? Total myth! The more you accelerate, the less likely you are to be able to control the pace of your putt and the face direction. Smooth and repeatable is the goal. The following techniques and drills will help you achieve just that:


Think About a Pendulum Swing:


  • Imagine your putter as a pendulum. Your arms, shoulders, and the putter should move together as one unit. Above we talked about thinking about the arms staying connected to the rib cage and rotating around the body. This minimizes unnecessary wrist action and promotes a straighter, more repeatable path.


Gate Drill. Focus on Start Line:


  • Set up two alignment sticks or tees approximately a little wider than a golf ball width apart. Practice hitting putts through this gate to ensure you can hit your start line. Reading a green is useless if you don’t know where the golf ball started. Watch a video of Tiger Woods doing this drill over and over again. Want to make more putts, know where the ball starts off the putter head.


Distance Control:


  • Work on your distance control by hitting putts to various distances. This drill helps you develop a sense of how far your putter travels for different lengths of putts.

  • Ever played Leap Frog? Check out the video below for an example!



Read the Greens:


  • A critical aspect of putting is reading the greens effectively. To improve your green-reading skills, follow these guidelines:


Study the Green:


  • Take time to assess the slope, grain, and potential break of the green. Walk around your putt to get different perspectives. Look at the big features on the green to figure out which way the ball will roll.

  • Pro Tip: Most greens slope back to front. So it’s pretty easy to have a slight understanding in which way the putt will roll. Are you pin high right of the cup? Ball will break left. Are you below the hole? The putt is uphill. Are you left of the hole? The ball will break right. Get the idea? That’s pretty basic and plenty of greens have different undulations, but that’s a good place to start. 


Practice Visualization:


  • Visualize the path your ball will take to the hole, considering the break. Try to see the line in your mind's eye before addressing the ball.


AimPoint Express:


  • Consider learning the AimPoint Express method, which helps golfers read greens more accurately by using your feet to feel the slope.

  • Our eyes can trick us, so use your feet to feel the slope. The more information you have, the better!


Time to Get Cocky!


Putting can be mentally challenging. Maintaining a positive mindset is essential for success. Get cocky! Walk onto a green and tell yourself “I’m going to make this putt.” and there’s a good chance you’ll make more putts. Take into consideration that on the PGA Tour the probability of making a 10ft putt is 50%. Temper your cockiness slightly, but be confident you’re going to make the putts.


Routine:


  • Develop a pre-putt routine that helps you focus on the process rather than the outcome.


Stay Composed:


  • Don't let a missed putt affect your next one. Stay composed and focus on the next opportunity.


Equipment Can Make a Difference


Equipment is a part of the putting process that is sometimes overlooked. You can get fit for a putter and different heads are designed for different putting arcs and different players.


In recent years, we've witnessed some fascinating trends in putters on the PGA Tour. One notable shift has been the increasing popularity of mallet putters, known for their enhanced forgiveness and stability. In mid 2023, Ricky Fowler won with the Odyssey JailBird putter which was loaded with lead tape and 38 inches in length. This counterbalance and heavy head made it easier for him to keep the head stable. Many professional golfers are making the switch to mallet designs, which provide a larger sweet spot and better alignment aids. Additionally, there's a growing interest in adjustable-length putters, allowing players to fine-tune the length to their individual preferences, offering more customization than ever before. These equipment changes reflect the PGA Tour's constant pursuit of innovation and the quest for equipment that can help them hole more putts under the pressure of competitive play. Keep an eye on these trends, as they may inspire you to explore new putter options that could improve your own performance on the greens.


Improving your putting skills is a journey that requires patience, as well as practice, practice, and more practice. By mastering the fundamentals, developing a smooth repeatable stroke, reading the greens effectively, and maintaining a positive mindset, you can significantly enhance your putting game.

Remember that regular practice of these techniques and drills will help build your confidence and turn putting into a strength rather than a weakness in your golf game. So, head to the putting green, implement these tips, and watch your scores improve as you become a more proficient and confident putter.


If you want to improve your putting, then ask yourself:


  • When was the last time you went through a putter fitting?

  • How much of your practice is devoted to putting vs hitting driver?


Let me know in the comments below!


Happy Golfing!





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