Is putting about putting the aiming the ball at the hole…or is it about finding a line on the way to the hole.
Maybe it is about having a straight back swing so you don’t miss-hit the putt.
I have heard various techniques for not only practicing putting, but theories on what separates a good putter from a bad one. I have come to my own early life golf conclusions, some may not be relevant to you, but for me they are relevant.
(1) Visualize the path the ball will follow
Go through the path of the putt in your head. See it go in and pick out the part of the cup you envision the ball going in. It is not going to go directly in the front most of the time (unless you are playing mini-golf) so play the angles. If you are way off one time, think of where you are off…maybe your mental physics are playing mind tricks on you.
(2) Pick a spot 5 feet into that path
Sometimes it could be a leaf, a blemish in the green, or a shadow. Follow your path through the hold and pick a spot 5-7 feet into that path. If you are within 7 feet, pick a spot 50% of the distance…in this case, 3.5 feet away.
Stick to that path. Sometimes when you stand over the ball, the hole looks completely different and you are enticed to change your putting “point”. Your last instinct is usually incorrect…follow your calculated, and much more thought out originally putting spot.
(3) Have the same set-up everytime
For me, I have the same practice swing for my putting every time. I line up the ball visually, I pick a spot, I line up my putter where I want the ball to go, then I take to practice swings to get the weight and speed of the putter down. This set-up leads to consistency…and if you are hitting putts with consistency, you want to keep this process the same.
- same way you walk up to ball
- same number of practice swings
- same way you address the ball
Note: You should do this even on short putts as nothing really is a “gimme”
(4) Get a feel for the weight of the putt ahead
During your practice swing, make sure you visualize yourself hitting the ball as per the distance the ball will travel. Take the practice swing as though you are going to putt the ball 2 feet past the hole. This will allow you to get a feel for the swing before you hit the ball and I have found this can make a big difference between hammering the ball too far, coming up short, and even prevent you from mishitting your putt.
(5) Hit the ball hard enough to make it to the cup
Unless you have a downhill putt ahead, go for the cup. You rarely see pro’s come up short on anything under 10 feet..sometimes they have a 5 footer left if they miss the putt…but that is OK. Give yourself a chance or you will see many one putts within your round of golf. There is nothing worse than having a birdie putt from 6 or 7 feet and having it end up on the lip of the cup…waiting for a strong wind to blow it in.
(6) Don’t try to remove too much break on short putts.
It is unnatural to drill putts into the hole…many people try to teach you this. I tried it…didn’t work. I have friends that still try to remove the break but their putting suffers because of it. Putt the ball naturally as though you are trying to get it in. Don’t try to hammer a 3 footer home just to remove the break because sometimes the break will still be there. If you don’t have fun going from a 3 feet putt, to a 7 footer after your miss.
I have gone over the last 6 months from being the KING of 3 Putts, to the KING of one putts. I do what I stated above and it seems to work for me. As for the rest of my game (irons, driver and sometimes short game), it could still use some work.
PS. I am not even close to becoming a scratch golfer yet.