Back and through. Back and through. Back and through. Compared with the full swing, the putting stroke seems like a piece of cake. Then why do our results vary so wildly from round to round?
Why, indeed. For one thing, you can stroke a putt perfectly and still miss it due to the vagaries of the green. Miss two or three in a row and, no matter how well you hit them, confidence inevitably wanes. And everyone knows confidence is the key to great putting.
Unfortunately, true confidence can’t be faked. Nor can you will yourself to believe you’ll make putts when your results say otherwise. The only way to get confidence is to earn it. And the best way to earn it is to develop a fundamentally sound method that’s reliable, round after round.
Let’s boil down the basics of good putting to a list of three. Master them, practice them regularly and your putting will be as dependable as a loyal pet.
- Clubface alignment: Golfers tend to over-focus on the stroke and clubhead path. These variables are far less important in putting than on full shots due to the minimal speed involved. In fact, one study shows that clubface angle at impact has an 83% influence on the ball’s starting direction, vs. just 17% for clubhead path. In other words, if your stroke is off line but the face is pointed on line, you still stand a good chance of holing the putt.
This video offers sound suggestions for lining up your putts right on the money:
- Acceleration: Fail to accelerate the putter through the ball and you’ll routinely miss left (for a right-hander) and short. Again, accelerating seems like such a simple thing to do – unlike the full swing, putting doesn’t require synchronization between hips, torso, shoulders and arms. Quite frankly, it is simple.
If you’re plagued by deceleration, your stroke is probably too long. When you pull the putter back too far, your mind says, “Whoa, big fella,” causing you to slow down the through-stroke for fear of crushing the ball. A shorter, firmer stroke works best for most amateurs. The shorter it is, the less that can go wrong.
Here’s an article featuring two drills to boost your acceleration:
- Head still: The old adage imploring golfers to “keep your head down” during the full swing has been debunked backwards and forwards. However, the axiom definitely applies to putting.
During your stroke, the slightest head movement can alter the level, line and pace of your shoulders. Move the head and you’ll most often push your putts. You’ll also fail to make solid contact, come up short or fail to hold the line.
How do you keep your head steady from setup to finish? Well, you just do it. On short putts, don’t lift your head until you hear the ball hit the bottom of the cup. (Don’t worry, it will.) From beyond five feet, count to two before peaking.
Learning and maintaining great putting fundamentals – easier said than done? Not really. Spend 30 minutes a week on these three keys and you’ll nail them down.