The key to holing putts is controlling the putter head and putter face.
This may sound obvious but being exact in your control is important as being two to three degrees out in the putter head swing path or putter face angle on impact is the difference to picking the ball out of the hole or having another shot.
Firstly, what is putter head swing path and putter face angle?
1. Putter head swing path is the line on which the putter head swings through the golf ball during the putting stroke motion. It can swing in three different directions (these are for a right handed golfer):
- straight towards the target
- out to in (right to left across the ball)
- in to out (left to right across the ball)
Controlling the path of the putter head helps to control the direction that the ball is hit when initially struck and enables to golfer to strike the golf ball with the sweet spot in the middle of the putter face, meaning consistent distance control. Putter head swing path is mainly influenced by a quality set up to the ball and swinging the putter with the shoulders rather than with the arms or hands.
2. Putter face angle is the direction that the putter face points at the moment of impact with the golf ball. The ideal would be for the putter face to be at 90 degrees to the target at the moment of impact. A degree or two to the left or right and the ball will be sent in the wrong direction and miss the hole. This factor is the chief reason why a golfer may miss the putt due to direction. Putter face angle is mainly influenced by a quality set up to the ball (aiming correctly) and the use of the hands through the putting swing.
To practice these two factors and improve your putting, use the gate drill for best results to heighten your control and hole putts consistently.
Take six to eight tee pegs and stick them in the ground in two straight, parallel lines pointing at a target. The lines of tee pegs should be just over the width of a putter head apart. This is the "gate" which we will use to check both putter head swing path and putter face angle.
Position a golf ball in the middle of the "gate" and set up as normal to the golf ball.
Take a putt while being very aware of swinging the putter in as straight a line as possible to avoid contact with any of the tee pegs in the "gate". This may take some practice but swinging straighter will encourage the use of the shoulders and improve the contact with the ball. It will also promote a straighter putt.
While hitting your putts also keep watching the putter face. Throughout the putting stroke the putter face should always remain at 90 degrees to the lines of tee pegs - it should always point directly at the target. To help, hold your finish position after you have hit the putt and check the putter face, it should still be pointing at the target.
Practice this drill and your putting will improve both in distance control and accuracy, reducing your golf score with minimal effort.