So you’re driving your ball in the fairway, hitting greens, and playing solid golf, but your scores still aren’t where you want them. What gives? Maybe look at the 2 missed 4 footers, the 3 putt from 30 feet, and the fact that the longest putt you made all day was 6 feet. A few mishaps on the greens can easily be the difference between a great score and mediocre score. Regardless of how good you’re hitting the golf ball your game will never reach it’s potential without a solid putting stroke. The good news is that you can easily improve your putting with some slight technique changes and practice. The bad news is the putter seems to be the least popular club to practice with. If you are seeing that the putter is holding back your scores, here are 3 things you can do to have more success on the greens right away:
Improve Your Aim
If you’re shooting a gun and you don’t aim at the target, you’re not going to hit it. The same can be said for the putter. If you aim right or left of target you have to make a stroke manipulation to get the ball back online. This will never be consistent over time. Aim is the most important key to good putting and a big problem many golfers have is trying to aim with their feet. The thing that is important with aim is the putter face. The feet and body are secondary and not nearly as important as we’ve seen plenty of great putters setup open or closed to the target. The key to achieving proper aim is to set the putter face first. Start by standing to the side of the ball with your feet together. Now set the putter face behind the golf ball and adjust it to where it’s properly aimed at your target. Once the putter face is aimed, then you can set your feet and body. This technique will make it much easier to aim the putter properly and will result in more putts rolling to the target.
Improve Your Stroke Balance
Balance in the golf swing and balance in the putting stroke are two different things. Balance in the putting stroke has nothing to do with staying on your feet and everything to do with keeping the stoke a similar size on the backswing and follow through. This makes speed control much easier. Speed is important because it dictates the line on which the ball rolls and poor balance is the reason many golfers struggle with their speed. A lot of players make short backswings and over accelerate to a big follow through while others make big backswings and decelerate into a short follow through. Both of these make it difficult to correctly judge the speed of putts. A great way to control your speed is to make the putting stroke the same size on both sides. Take some practice strokes and feel the putter moving back and through at a nice smooth pace with good balance. Take 10-15 practice strokes until you get the feel then add the golf ball. The goal now is to make the same smooth, balanced putting stroke and let the ball get in the way. You’ll find it much easier to control your speed.
Release the Tension
You may have seen the body builder type golfer who can hit it 320 yards off the tee but can’t roll a ball close to the hole from 12 feet. One problem this guy probably has is tension in his putting stroke. He grips it and rips it off the tee but that doesn’t work on the greens. Tension in the hands, elbows, and arms is a big killer in the putting stroke for many golfers. The hands and arms are what move the putter and if they are tense it becomes very difficult to have the putter move with good rhythm and tempo. When you setup to a putt, place your hands on the grip and feel a medium pressure. It shouldn't be so light that putter wobbles in your hands or so tense that the hand muscles are flexed. From there let the wrist, elbows, and arms relax. Feel as if they are hanging from your shoulders. This relaxed position makes it easy for the putting stroke to move freely and at a nice pace. This will result in better feel and a better roll. The next time you play golf or practice your putting put these 3 tips to work and you’re putting will start to catch up to the rest of your game. Clay Hood is PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org