To optimize your game for lower scores it is important to recognise that it is not only possible to putt when you are on the green.
In fact, in a lot of cases it is more sensible to putt when you are off the green too. Most amateurs struggle with chipping and pitching shots and so a putting option may be the best way forward to save shots around the green. Do not be embarrassed to try something different and use these options as a guide to help you get that golf ball closer to the hole from off the green.
Consider these three issues:
1. The slope of the green and its surround.
If the ground on and around the green is sloping significantly then the shot required is best suited to being played low and running. Running the ball along the floor allows the ball to hug the ground and work with the lie of the land meaning that the golfer can predict what the ball will do. Here a putter is the most suitable golf club as it is low lofted and will keep the ball rolling smoothly.
If the ground on and around the green is flat then it is possible to use many golf clubs such as a putter, a seven iron or a fairway wood/rescue club. A putting action with these golf clubs will pop the ball in the air and land the ball on a flat surface allowing it to roll straight to the hole.
2. The length of the grass.
If the grass is long where the ball is situated, a putter is likely to get caught up with the blades of grass and can decelerate into the ball producing inconsistent distance control of your putt. Here a putting action with a more lofted iron or a fairway wood/rescue club would allow the rounded edge of the club to pass through the grass unimpeded, collect the ball and pop the ball up out of the grass to land on the green and roll to the hole.
If the grass is short the reverse is true. It would be better to use a putter as the putter will guarantee you a good contact with the ball that may not happen with the longer golf clubs.
3. The condition of the ground - hard or soft.
If the ground is hard it is easier to use a putter as the ball will roll along the ground easily. If the ground is soft, then using a putter is a dangerous option as the ball may get caught up in the soft surface and pull up short of the hole. Therefore, in this situation it would be more beneficial to use a putting action with a slightly more lofted club such as a nine iron or a fairway wood/rescue club. The loft will collect the ball and lift it in the air slightly, over the soft ground, and land it on the green where it can roll to the hole safely.
With these three issues in mind, practice your putting from off the green but not always using your putter. Try different clubs from different situations to work out what may be best for your game on your golf course. Never limit yourself to using one method when another may provide better results.