When you miss a putt to the left, do you automatically think, I pulled it because my stroke was off line, or, I must have lined up incorrectly? While either of those may be true, it’s more likely that you decelerated the putter.
Deceleration is when the putter slows down as it approaches the ball, rather than accelerating or speeding up. When we decelerate, the putter face usually closes just a fraction – enough to send even the shortest putts wide of the mark. Of course, decelerating can cause you to come up short as well.
Amateur players tend to decelerate when they’re uncertain. Perhaps the greens are exceptionally fast and you’re afraid of blasting the ball too far. Or maybe you’re unsure of the line and respond with a tentative stroke. Sometimes, a lack of confidence causes us to try and guide the ball into the cup, rather than make a smooth, authoritative stroke. Other times, our back-stroke is simply too long, leaving us no choice but to instinctively slow down coming through.
While there’s no tip or drill guaranteed to cure you of this problem, here are a couple that should help.
Aim for a spot past the hole:
- On the practice green, set out several balls 2-3 feet from the cup.
- Pick a spot 8”-12” inches past the hole, on your through-line.
- When setting up, look at the spot rather than the hole, then stroke the ball as though trying to hit the spot.
- The hole should essentially “get in the way,” with the ball hitting the back of the cup.
- Integrate the same method into your on-course routine.
- Starting from close range on the practice green, place a ball about 6” behind the ball you’ll be putting.
- Take the putter back without touching the ball on your line.
- Make a follow-through that’s longer than your back-stroke.
Short back, long through:
Both drills will ingrain an accelerating stroke that stays on track from start to finish and gets your putts to the hole.