If you ever take a lesson on putting, the instructor will assess how solidly you strike the ball before analyzing your stroke. Why? As with full-swing shots from the tee or fairway, hitting the ball on the sweet spot is the No. 1 key to good putting.
Among amateur golfers, a high percentage of missed putts come up short, often because they’re struck poorly. Missing the center of the blade can also cause the ball to roll off line while exacerbating a push or pull.
If you tend to strike putts toward the toe, heel or bottom of the clubface, here’s the good news: Compared with the full swing, the putting stroke’s compact, low-speed dynamics mean consistently solid contact is a much easier proposition. Here are a few ways to improve your ballstriking with the putter:
- Hands ahead of the ball: As with the irons and chips shots, the hands should be slightly forward at address, leaning the shaft toward the target.
- Stay down until ball is gone: It’s hard to resist the temptation to look up in the hopes of seeing your ball dive into the hole. Peeking early, however, can pull the putter up and offline. Keep your eyes on the ball’s spot for a second or two after it’s left the putter face.
- Keep the left (lead) wrist flat: Many golfers allow their right hand to overtake the left during the stroke, cupping the left wrist and closing the blade. Focus on keeping the left wrist flat or firm throughout the stroke.
- Practice without a target: When you’re too target-conscious, the stroke becomes rigid. Find a section of the practice green with no cups, and practice stroking the ball randomly without aiming at anything. This will free up your action, giving you a feeling of fluidity that carries over to your actual attempts.