Putting is deemed as the easiest stroke in golf. However, many golfers still struggle with this due to distance control. Many miss the hole, no matter how close the ball is. With this, many ask us this question: how to improve my putting?
For this post, we will discuss the basics of putting, tips to improve it, and drills that you can use to boost your putting skills.
What is putting?
Putting is the basic stroke in golf that involves a tap when the ball is just off the green or the hole. This is done with a golf club called putter, though it depends on the golfer’s discretion. Some use an iron, wood, or driver. During an unfavorable position, a golfer can also use a wedge.
In this video, Todd Kolb from PGA Tour tells us more about this stroke:
Basics of putting
Unlike other clubs, a putter calls for a different grip. Most golfers use the reverse overlap grip so the wrist won’t break during the stroke.
For the putting position, beginners can start with the baseball bat grip using all ten fingers. However, for experienced golfers, the bottom hand should be positioned with the thumb pointing to the ground. Also, the top hand should be on the grip and slid through the bottom hand. In this position, the index finger of the top hand should be placed over the fingers of the hand below.
Golfers will usually draw a straight line on the ball to help them align it to the hole. This marking allows the golfer to perform more accurate hits.
Aside from aligning the ball, you should also check the alignment of your body. You should be bending from the hips and not from the knees. However, don’t stick your butt too much.
*Reading the green
Reading the green means examining the grass and distance between the hole and the ball. This process will help you assess how much power you need to use.
For example, by reading the green, a golfer can check for contours that may cause the ball to veer to the left or right. Another purpose of reading the green is checking the shine of the grass. Shiny grass means that the ball will roll fast. Also, if the ball is situated on a slope, it will also move fast.
In preparation for the putting stroke, the golfer will imagine a line between the ball and the hole. This is to direct their swing in the right direction. After that, the golfer will hit the ball in a pendulum motion. Take note that putting only requires a lower hitting power than long-distance hits. Aside from that, you’re not supposed to rock the club during this stroke.
Also, you should note that the distance of the backswing will directly determine the distance of the ball.
Tips to Improve Your Putting
Before we delve deeper into the drills, here are some of the things I do on how to improve my putting:
-Give yourself an eye exam
Sometimes, golfers get deceived by their own vision. This leads to poor judgment of distance, which will ultimately cause poor putts. This is called as ‘depth deficiency’ on which the golfer perceives the hole to be nearer than its actual distance.
For this, the PuttDoctor.com recommends these steps:
-Consider changing your putter
Have you ever checked your putter? Sometimes, the cause of bad putts is an equally bad putter. It may not be suitable for your height and skill level. Re-check the shaft length, head balancing, head shape, weight, and type of grip.
-Block out background ‘noise’
If you want to improve your putting, you should know how to shut off ‘background noise’ on the golf course. This noise doesn’t refer to sound, but unnecessary objects or structures that will affect your putt’s lining.
Aside from that, you should look for a horizontal standard that you can use as a guide for your stroke. This way, you’ll have a clutter-free line of sight. This will help you concentrate on your stroke.
-Watch your weight
Our bodies have a built-in gyroscope that sees things on a flat and level manner. This is why misaims happen on your putts.
To fix this, you have to mind where you put your weight. The rule of thumb is that you should lean on the slope’s opposite direction. However, make this as subtle as possible so you only have a little stretch on your ankles.
-Read the putt properly
Golfers are divided as to how they should read putts: should it be behind the ball or behind the hole? The fact here is that both can be correct on specific occasions.
Here are two quick rules for everyone:
*If you have an uphill putt, you should read it behind the ball.
*If you have a downhill putt, you should read it behind the hole.
Also, you should always read your putts on the low side. Reading on the right side distorts your view and it’s impossible to have an accurate stroke. A high side view makes the distance look longer than it really is.
-Practice distance control
Take note that putts are hits close to the hole. You don’t need a full-fledged swing here but rather a controlled pendulum-like tap.
Distance control is all about how you make contact with the ball. For better putts, the rule is this: roll, not hit. Also, when you stroke, always keep the head of your putter low on the ground. This will prevent the ball from hopping or what seems like it encountered a non-existent bump.
-Utilize your fingers
Always grip the club with your fingers while lining up with the lifeline of your left hand. This is necessary for controlling the clubface, but don’t’ let your fingers be too loose. Don’t pay much attention to your palms. Maximize your fingers for better distance control!
5 Drills to Improve Your Putting
When I was wondering how to improve my putting, the following drills helped me a lot. You can do most of it at home as long as you have a putting mat:
-The Clock Drill
Let’s start with the basics: the Clock Drill. This is helpful for short distance putts and in boosting the consistency of your stroke. The only downside to this drill is you need to do this on a putting field as it requires more space.
For this drill, you need 12 golf balls placed in 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 with the hole as the intersecting point. With that, each clock point would have three balls with 2 to 3 feet intervals.
Once the balls are in place, start hitting your puts on the four balls closest to the hole. If you make a mistake, start over until you ace the first layer. From there, work your way farther from the hole until you finished all the 12 balls.
This drill helps in improving your putts at various distances. It also has a sense of pressure, which allows you to train yourself for actual games.
In addition, you can repeat this drill as frequently as you want until you’re fully confident with your putts.
LAST NOTE: There’s a variety of the Clock Drill on which the hole is encircled with the 12 balls, depicting the hours on the clock. This is great in practicing your putts from different angles from the green.
-The Tiger’s Gate Drill
Next, we have the Tiger’s Gate Drill. This was created by Tiger Woods and will be a big help in improving your short putts. It’s also a great confidence booster if you’re facing a ball that’s only a few feet away from the green.
For this drill, you need two tees placed side by side, creating a gate-like structure. Make sure that the opening is wide enough for the putter head to swing through.
Once you have the tee gate set, hit at least 12 putts using your dominant hand only. Follow this with 6 putts using both your hands. You can perform more putts as you wish, but with the same one-hand and both-hands ratio.
Take note that Tiger Woods himself does this with at least 50 putts a day. It will really help if you dedicate some time to it. Aside from guiding the putter head, the tees also help you line up your stroke.
Also, you can do the Tiger’s Gate drill at home using a putting mat.
-The 100 Putt Drills
For the 100 Putt Drill, you will learn how to make consistent short putts. Also, it will help build your confidence when another player’s putt is too close to yours.
To do this drill, you need a flat spot on your putting mat. Next, place a ball about 3 feet away from the hole and strike it. The goal of this drill is to help you focus on the alignment and form of your putts.
For beginners, they can use a putting alignment mirror. That way, they can perform better putts to build their confidence. Also, make sure that you have finished 100 putts for this drill. You can do this every day to prepare for a match.
-The Meter Stick Drill
This drill helps you improve the alignment of your putts as well as practice the putter face impact of every stroke.
In addition, you need a metal meter stick for this drill. Place it about six feet from the hole and in the exact spot where your ball is going to be in contact with the putter head.
Once the meter stick is all set, place the ball on the end nearest to your putter then strike it. The goal here is to keep the ball rolling through the meter stick. If so, it’s a sign that the ball has an excellent impact on the putter face. And since it stayed on a straight line, it’s a test of how good you roll the ball.
-The 1-2-3 Drill
Next, we have the 1-2-3 Drill, which aims to improve your putt’s rhythm. Once you mastered this drill, you’ll have consistent and controlled strokes. This is somewhat a truncated version of the Clock Drill.
For this, you need three balls aligned in equal intervals. For starters, a 3-feet distance would be perfect. That way, you’ll have 9 feet as the farthest. This is a great simulation of actual putting as 80% of your putts on the game will fall between 3 and 10 feet from the green.
Like with the Clock Drill, start striking the ball nearest to the hole then work your way outward. This drill will help you nail more birdies.
-Spot the Spot Drill
Many golfers tend to be brain-blocked by staring too much on the ball. So instead of sticking your eyes on the golf ball, you need to focus on a spot on the target line where you aim the ball to roll.
For this, just place a tee about 10 inches off the ball. This way, the tee serves as the marker for your putt. Also, it helps you focus on the target line instead of obsessing yourself on the ball. Repeat this several times until you can hit the tee effortlessly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do my putts bounce on the green?
A: Some golfers try to justify the error my attributing the bounce to a bump on the grass. However, it’s often due to problematic strokes. If you hit the ball with excess force or a descending blow, it will have too much loft. This causes the bouncing effect.
Q: Where should my eyes be when putting?
A: You should always align your eyes on the impact spot. Also, it will help to create an imaginary align along with the ball and the hole. This will help straighten your stroke to send the ball to the hole.
Q: What is the proper putter length for me?
A: For golfers who stand 6-feet tall, a 35.5-inch putter is ideal. For those shorter at 5 ft. 10 in or 5 ft. 11 in. height, a 34-inch putter is the best choice. Take note that the length of the putter is critical as it will affect your posture and stroke.
Q: Why do golfers hold their putter up before a stroke?
A: This technique is called plumb bobbing. It’s used to line up the putt with the putter club as the bob. This helps golfers imagine a vertical line to the hole. Take note that you should move farther at the back for longer puts to have better bobbing.
Q: Should my putter touch the ground?
A: Your putter should be raised slightly from the ground so the clubhead will have full contact with the ball. Also, lifting the putter will give the golfer a ‘feel’ of its weight. This is important to assess how much force is needed for the putt.
Knowing how to improve my putting took a while, but it’s worth all the practice and drills. And if you’re also aiming to boost your putts, you can perform the drills I discussed here. Most of it can be done at home with a putter, a putting mat, and a golf ball.
Do you have something to add to our putting guide? Feel free to drop your thoughts below!