Basic Concepts for How to Putt
How to Putt Better Than a Pro

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Yes You Can

The title of this presentation is pretty strong.  But it’s true!  A few gifted golfers will be able to use this information and actually have a better putting game than some tour pros.  Unbelievable?  It’s true because many professional players rely on a lot of practice and natural talent.  They violate fundamental rules in favor of comfort, habit and misinformation just like you do.

By becoming fundamentally sound and by using correct strategies for the different kinds of putts you will face and if you learn how to correctly practice, you might actually develop professional skill.   That’s a lot of ands, ifs and here’s two big buts … first, you will have to practice a whole lot and second, you will need that natural talent thing.

For the rest of us mortals, yes we can expect to improve and to obtain a very satisfactory level of skill.  There will be many more days when we are “on” and putting “lights out”.  Perhaps more importantly, there will be far fewer, maybe even no days when we hack up the greens!

Pre-Putt Concepts and Considerations

To be a good putter, you must do three things …

  • Be Mechanically Consistent … be able to do the same thing the same way every time … be able to execute a straight 10’ putt

  • Use a pre-putt routine to call up you best effort every time and apply the correct strategy

  • Correctly “read” greens

Begin with an Attitude Check

  • The hole is bigger than it looks (A) … three balls struck at the correct speed will drop … you don’t need a perfect stroke to get the ball in the hole

  • See a path (B), not a line (C) … visualize a 2” wide yellow ribbon leading to the hole …

  • Putt using your instinct … feel the perfect putt you have learn how to make

  • Believe the ball will go in the hole!

Absolute Truths About Putting

  • All putts are straight putts … you don’t try to hook or slice a putt into the hole.  Your first learning task is to master the skill of hitting a fundamentally sound, mechanically repeatable, straight 10’ foot putt.  From this basic skill, other skills (reading breaks, controlling speed) are added like ornaments to a Christmas tree

  • All putts are speed putts … there are more ways to miss a putt because of speed than there are ways to miss because of direction …speed is the ONLY factor you have control over.  Like the last thing that passed through the bug’s mind when it hit the windshield, how hard is the last thing that should go through your mind before you strike the ball.  If your mind is anywhere else, then you are WRONG!    Remember … Speed Kills!

  • ALL putts break downhill  … putts will  NEVER break uphill!  Putts will continue to break downhill until the law of gravity is rescinded.  Find downhill and the difference in elevation and you are on track to reading the green.  Grain in the grass DOES NOT cause a putt to break … it causes a putt to speed up or to slow down … fast putts break more than slow putts.

  • Sometimes perfect putts don’t fall and sometimes bad putts do fall … a player with a positive mental attitude will make more than his fair share of both … the reason this works is because:

  •  Confidence relaxes your muscles and relaxed muscles work more efficiently than tense muscles

  • Relaxed muscles allow you to have more “feel” than tense muscles

  • From a “pure physics” point of view, putter path and putter face angle are equal in importance …

  • From a bio-mechanical point of view, they are not even close to being equal …

  • Putter path errors are generally forgiven; 90% of path errors DO NOT affect the putt

  • Square face direction  is mandatory; 90% of a face angle problem DOES affect the putt!

  • It is mechanically more difficult to make a path error than it is to “flinch” and make a face error!

Some players have been lead to believe that effective putting is wide open to individual techniques and unsound fundamentals.  WRONG, dead solid wrong!  Putting is subject to the same laws of physics and fundamentals as a 300 yard drive … the size of a mistake is just a lot less apparent!

There is a RIGHT WAY to putt!

More Truths About Putting

  • Good putting is both a science (first) … sound mechanical fundamentals and the application of correct strategic rules and an art (second) … reading breaks and speed control

  • Tips on How Putting Can Be Learned Faster and Better

  • Develop the mechanical consistency of your stroke on a consistent putting surface … indoors on a smooth piece of carpet or putting mat.  You must be able to differentiate between an error caused by poor stroke mechanics and a miss caused by an irregular putting surface … was it me or was it the green?

Tips on How Putting Can Be Learned Faster and Better

  • Mechanical consistency is learned on a consistent putting surface by doing

  • “Touch” and the ability to “read” greens is learned by using a variety of surfaces and conditions.  Apply the law of variability to develop the strategic skills needed to be a good putter.  When learning touch, NEVER hit the same putt twice!

  • Checkpoints of a Mechanically Sound Putting Stroke

  • The putter head swings straight back and straight through, along an imaginary path (the 2” yellow ribbon) throughout the full length of the stroke … on longer, lag putts the putter head will begin to follow a slightly, natural inside to square to inside path

  • The putter face must be perfectly square to the intended target path at impact

THE KEY to good putting … make an accelerating stroke into and through the back of the ball!

Pre-putt Fundamentals

  • Eyes over the ball, head absolutely still …this anchors the stroke and corrects for any cross-eye visual dominance

  • Eyes inside the target path can cause pulled putts … eyes outside the path (nobody does this) can cause pushed putts

  • Performance Technique:  Visualize a plumb line hanging from the bridge of your nose to a point over the ball

  • Hangle (hang and dangle) Your Hands Under Your Shoulders to promote a very  consistent, straight back and through stroke path

  • Taking a correct posture requires a correctly fitted putter

Common Pre-Putt Set-up Errors

  • Hands inside the shoulder line causes pushed putts … hands outside the shoulder line (very common error) causes pulled

  • Excessive bending of the elbows causes “wristy” hand action rather than the desired shoulder and arm stroke

Performance Technique:  Visualize a necktie acting as a plumb line from the front of your shoulder joints to the thumb of your top hand

  • Align Your Shoulders Parallel to the Intended Target Path to give your stroke a consistent direction … this only make sense if you intend to use a correct shoulder and arm stroke rather than a loose wristed hands stroke

  • Align your shoulders and knees after you have your bottom hand on the club; ignore the apparent “closed” alignment of your feet … use the club, grip, point, aim and hangle pre-putt routine to accomplish this point

  • The most common error in putting is “open” shoulders which requires you to deliberately swing the putter in a different direction than your body is aligned … don’t fight your own body

Allow Your Pre-Putt Fundamentals
to Work For You

Checkpoints of a Mechanically Sound Putting Stroke

  • Use a Shoulder and Arm Stroke

  • Your wrists are firm, not “flippy”

  • The elbows maintain their “bend” through out the stroke

  • Fingers are soft to promote maximum “feel”

Stroke Fundamentals

No Wrists/Hands Free Stroke Motion

Move the handle of the putter.  With the elbows flexed, it is easy to “lock” them in place while pushing the club back with the left forearm.  The forward stroke is the same.  Push the handle forward with the right forearm.  Think of the forearms as your “thumbones”.  The thumb bone begins at the tip of the thumbnail and extends up to the elbow.  The radius bone in your forearm, your thumb bone and  the shaft become one solid object and moves as one unit.  The same goes for the right shaft, thumb and forearm.  The stroke becomes a push back and strike through, integrated movement.  There is zero possibility of any wristiness in the stroke motion.

Slow and Go Stroke Rhythm

The forward stroke must be an accelerating strike into the back of the ball.  Such a movement can be observed when the forward stroke is both longer in distance and shorter in time.  The backstroke will be about 1/3rd the length of the forward stroke.  The entire length of the forward stroke will take the same time for the backstroke.  The “and” part or transition between the backstroke and fore stroke is NOT a deliberate stop, just a soft, unhurried change of direction as the right hand takes over.  Left pushes back, right strikes through.

The act of striking the back of the ball with an accelerating stroke CAUSES the putter face to stay square to the intended path.

Almost Forget About Making a Perfect Stroke

Practice time is precious.  You do not need to practice with the tail wagging the dog!  You do not have to make a perfect putting stroke to get the ball into the hole.  About 85% of where a putt goes is related to where the putter was facing at impact.  Only about 15% of where a put goes is related to stroke path.  Go to any putting green and watch how many players are practicing their stroke rather than striking the ball squarely.  This is bassackwards from what you need to be doing!  The major goal of your physical practice should be dedicated to striking the ball with the putterface aimed at your intended target path.  How the putter gets to the ball is far less important than facing the putter to the target. 

This does not mean stroke mechanics are unimportant.  They do have a significant affect on where the putt goes.  The proper place to practice is at home and on the putting green at your course.

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