Make More Short Putts on Fast Greens 1

    Consider: Greens on a typical public golf course register
    8 – 8.5 on the Stimpmeter.

    On the PGA Tour, green speeds average around 11 and sometimes reach 13 or higher. While most amateurs rarely if ever face Tour-speed surfaces, anything above 10 is probably out of their comfort zone.

    When a handicap golfer does encounter extra-quick greens, the results are pretty predictable. He’ll either hit putts well past the hole, or overcompensate and leave them far short. He’ll also struggle mightily from inside 5 feet.

    If you’ve been in this situation, you know the feeling. Afraid of racing the ball past the cup, you “baby” it and decelerate, causing a pull. Or you try to guide the ball into the hole, make a stiff, overly mechanical stroke and come up short. You may get anxious and grip the club too firmly or look up early, causing a push. After a few holes, you’re tied in knots over every 2-footer.

    Well, guess what? No matter the green’s speed, the cup is 4 ¼ inches across. You’ve got just as good a chance of holing those knee-knockers on slick greens as you do on slow ones.

    Try these tips and take the fear out of short putts on fast greens:

  • Lighten your grip: Anxiety causes golfers to grip the club too tightly, a big no-no on quick greens. Relax your grip pressure to no more than 3 on a scale of 1 – 10. This will smooth out your stroke, slow your tempo and produce a softer hit.
  • Grip down on the putter: The faster the greens, the more control you need over the putter. Get it by shortening the distance between your hands and the putter head. Grip down at least an inch farther than normal, and bend your knees a little more to bring your upper body closer to the ground without bending over too much.
  • Pick a spot and putt to it: When the greens are slick, it’s pretty hard to come up short from inside 5 feet. After reading your putt, find a spot halfway to the hole, directly on your line (accounting for any break). Imagine yourself on average-pace greens and stroke your putt to just trickle over this spot. This will effectively shorten the putt’s distance, boosting your confidence, and the ball will easily reach the cup.
  • Hit putts toward the toe: Putts struck on the club’s sweet spot will naturally leave the face with a little extra “juice.” Unless your touch is dialed in, this can be deadly on fast greens. Set up with the ball a quarter-inch outside the alignment guide, closer to the toe, and focus on hitting it there. The ball will come off slightly “dead” and roll more slowly.
  • Practice on a hardwood floor or other slick surface: Before the round, find a place at home where the floor is exceptionally smooth. (Preferably not the marble countertops.) Practice hitting short putts to a coffee mug or similar object, noting how far the ball rolls past if you miss. You’ll become conditioned to making a smooth, easy stroke and, chances are, the greens you’ll play won’t be quite as fast.
  • Fast Greens, Make More Short Putts 2
    Getting the Most from Putting Tips

    Putting is the great equalizer in golf. If you are a great ball striker, but can’t putt, you will always be open to losing a match against a player who knows how to putt – even if they can’t hit the ball half has good as you. Some golfers make the mistake of thinking that putting is something that evens out over time, and that you are inevitably going to have good days and bad days. This is simply not true. While you might not make a ton of putts in every single round you play, making yourself a good putter is a skill that you can rely on day in and day out on the golf course.

    When it comes to golf instruction, the full swing gets almost all the attention. Most golfers obsess over making their swing as technically correct as possible, yet they just walk onto the putting green and hope for the best. Putting well isn’t just about picking the line you think is right and trying to roll the ball toward the hole – rather, you need to combine great technique with solid green reading and attention to detail if you are going to conquer the putting greens successfully.
    Another important aspect of becoming a good putter is being able to handle the pressure properly.

    There is no pressure anywhere on the golf course quite like the putting green, and anyone who watches pro golf on TV knows just how difficult it can be to make even an easy putt when the heat is on. This is a big part of why it is so important to make your putting technique as solid as possible during your practice sessions. Good technique holds up much better under pressure than a stroke that hasn’t been refined over the years. Put in your practice time and you can expect to be rewarded with significantly improved performance when it matters most.

    If you have never thought to take putting lessons before, you might not have a putting technique just yet that is able to perform on a consistent basis. Knowing how to putt in golf is a combination of a variety of factors, from good technique to the right way to think through each putt before you hit it. Whether you have just read some Dave Stockton putting tips that you are thinking of using, or you are trying to fight off the putting yips, it is always helpful to have as much information as possible.

    The following putting lessons and ideas should give you some direction the next time you head to the golf course to practice your putting technique.

    Fast Greens, Make More Short Putts 3
    Start with Good Putting Mechanics

    Any strong house is going to be built on a good foundation, and the mechanics of your putting stroke are that foundation in this case. If you do the basics right – and they are pretty simple – you should be able to build your putting game up from there. In fact, there is actually a lot of room for individuality within your putting stroke, as long as you do the fundamentals correctly.
    Below are three fundamental points relating to the putting stroke that you should pay careful attention to.

  • Light grip pressure. This is one point that is absolutely key to putting the ball well on a consistent basis. Of all the putting grip tips you can get from various teachers, this will always be the most important. You need to maintain a light grip pressure on the club throughout your putting stroke if you are going to release the head of the putter properly and control your speed well. Many golfers struggle with gripping the club too tightly during the stroke, which causes them to struggle with getting a good release through impact. If you are a right handed golfer and have had trouble in the past with missing your short putts out to the right of the hole, it is very likely that a tight grip is to blame.
  • Steady eyes. You have probably heard that you need to keep your head still during your putting stroke, and that isn’t too far from the truth. However, the important part is really that you keep your eyes still and keep them focused on the ball throughout the stroke. A common mistake among amateur players is to move the eyes along with the putter head and track its motion back and through. This error will make it harder to create solid contact at impact, and you will also struggle to manage your speed successfully. Pick out a spot on the golf ball and stare at it from address all the way through impact until well after the ball is gone.
  • Stable base. Other than your eyes, your lower body moving around is the other area where your mechanics can really go wrong. You need your legs to be strong and stable throughout the putting stroke so you can keep the putter head on track and moving in the exact right direction toward the hole. When your legs start to sway back and forth during the stroke – or start to straighten up and lose your knee flex – it can mean bad things for the putt you are about to hit. Once your eyes are under control, focus your attention on the stability of your legs to really sharpen up your putting performance.
  • If you can just do those three things correctly, you will be most of the way to a great putting stroke. Of course there are a few other elements that are important, and those will be highlighted below, but these three fundamental mechanics are crucial to good putting. There are a variety of ways to putt the golf ball well, but you will have a hard time finding any players who putt well without using each of the three fundamentals on the list above. Invest some practice time into working on these three tips and you will see the results start to show themselves on the course in the very near future.

    Fast Greens, Make More Short Putts 4
    The Putting Stroke is Still a Golf Swing

    There are obvious differences between your full swing, your chipping motion, and your putting stroke. However, those three different techniques actually have a lot in common, and you should try to keep them as similar to one another as you can. When you start to use radically different technique from one part of your game to the next, consistency becomes a serious problem.
    With that in mind, it is helpful to think of the putting stroke as a mini golf swing. There is a backswing (backstroke), downswing (forward stroke), release through impact, and follow through. All of the parts that you would be concerned about getting right during your full swing can still be found in your putting technique. In order to hit good putts time after time, you want to make sure that all of those pieces are working as well as they can together. When one of them starts to falter, they all suffer as a result.

    First, let’s talk about the backstroke. The key to making this part of your putting game as solid as it can be is to take your hands out of the equation as much as possible. Ideally, you want to be moving the club almost entirely with your shoulders and arms, while your wrists and hands stay quiet on the club. The reason? The big muscles in your shoulders and arms are less likely to twitch and make sudden, short movements – bad news for a putting stroke. When you can rock the putter back and through using just your big muscles, the results will be incredibly consistent. More hand action while you are putting will almost always mean poor results.

    The other important element of the backstroke is the length of the swing itself. As a rule of thumb, it should only be as long as it has to be to get the ball to the hole, and no longer. One of the most common amateur errors with the putter is to make a backstroke that is longer than necessary, leading to a de-acceleration of the club head through impact, and an offline putt. This is especially important on short putts of a few feet or less. It takes very little power at all to roll the ball a few feet – in fact, you could probably get the ball to the hole without even taking a backswing at all. While that isn’t a good idea, it is a good idea to practice a tighter backswing that only moves a few inches away from the ball before accelerating confidently into impact.
    When thinking about the forward stroke in your putting motion – there really isn’t much to think about. At this point, you stroke should be somewhat on auto-pilot as you let the club rock back toward the ball. Basically all of the work is done at this point, so you just need to pay attention to your fundamentals so you don’t mess things up at the last second. As long as you maintain control over your eyes, and maintain a steady base in your lower body, everything should be in good shape. In fact, the more you think about your forward stroke and try to make adjustments to it on the fly, the more things are likely to go wrong.

    The last important discussion regarding the swing of the putter itself is the action of the club through impact. While the previous paragraph did say that ‘most of the work’ was already done, the last bit of work is making sure the club head releases properly through impact so that the ball can start on the correct target line. This is where things get a little tricky. You don’t want to actually force the club head to release – you just want to make sure you don’t stop it from releasing. Does that make sense?

    Think about it this way – if you have done everything else correctly in your putting stroke up to this point, the putter should be swinging freely toward the ball with just the right amount of natural release. There is nothing else that needs to be done. However, many golfers make the mistake of ‘getting in the way’ of this process and they use their hands to manipulate the club face at impact. They might feel like the club is pointed too far to the left or right, so a last-instant correction is made to help the ball into the hole. These corrections are almost always a bad idea. Trust is very important when putting, and it is for this exact reason. You have to trust that you have done everything right up to this point, and trust that the ball is going to roll right into the middle of the hole.

    Fast Greens, Make More Short Putts 5
    Dealing with the Putting Yips

    Now we get to the topic that no one wants to talk about with putting – the yips. If you have the yips now, or you have struggled with them in the past, you know just how frustrating they can be. Dealing with the putting yips can undermine everything else in your game, and it can even make you feel like giving it up altogether. The reason that the yips are so frustrating is simple – there is nowhere to hide from them. While you might be able to avoid hitting a certain club that you don’t like, or avoid trying a ball flight that gives you trouble, you can’t run away from short putts. You will face a short putt on almost every hole throughout the round, and you have to be able to make them consistently if you are going to play well. Missing several short putts during a round destroys your score, and your confidence along with it.

    It is not all doom and gloom, however. There is plenty of hope for those who are stricken with the yips, and golfers of all skill levels can fix themselves with a little bit of practice and clear thinking. The first step toward solving this problem, like any problem, is to admit there is something wrong with your putting. If you constantly make excuses for your missed short putts – like there was a bump in the green, or someone made a noise during your stroke – you will never get down to work and fix it for good. Acknowledge the problem, then get to work solving it as quickly as possible.

    The yips are generally caused by two things that have already been addressed above – eye control, and grip pressure. Most commonly, it is a combination of the two. When you lose control over your eyes during the stroke, and you start to look up at the hole before you have even touched the ball, you will have a much harder time making good contact. Since the yips are a phenomenon that almost always affects short putts, it is tempting to look at the hole to see if the ball is going to go in. If you are ever going to solve your tips, you simply must resist that temptation.

    As a trick to solve this problem, try the following. Take each of the golf balls that you are going to use during a given round, draw a specific symbol or sign on it. Then, when you get ready to putt, position your ball so that your drawing is facing up to the sky. That is your key to use to control your eyes during the stroke. Engage your vision with that mark on the ball, and don’t allow your eyes to move until after the ball is gone. On short putts of just a few feet or less, it is good practice to simply roll the ball away and not watch it at all – just keep your eyes down and listen for the sound of success.

    The other yip-causing problem is a tight grip pressure. This becomes an issue because it puts too much power into your hands, and they then have too much control over the putter head through impact. While you might be able to get away with this on longer putts, the short putts really expose your faults. If your yips tend to only show up under pressure when you get nervous, there is a good chance that it is a grip pressure problem. Relax your grip, let the putter swing freely, and the yips could quickly become a thing of the past.

    Fast Greens, Make More Short Putts 6
    A Couple of Fun Putting Drills

    One of the reasons that many golfers ignore practicing their putting on a regular basis is simple – it can be boring. Even a professional golfer would admit that standing on the putting green rolling the ball over and over again can get a tad monotonous. In order to break up that boredom and make sure you are spending enough time on the practice green, it is helpful to have a couple of drills to keep things interesting. While you are working on learning how to putt in golf, consider using the following two drills as part of your regular practice routine.

  • Par 36. Making your putting practice a competition with yourself (or someone else) is important for a couple reasons. First, it keeps your mind engaged and fights off boredom. Second, it places you under pressure so you can test out the changes you have made in your stroke. Working on those new putting grip tips you received? Give them a try while doing this game and see how it holds up. The ‘Par 36’ game is very simple, and only requires your putter, a practice green, and one golf ball. You are going to putt back and forth across the green, picking out different targets as you go until you have ‘played’ 18 holes. Obviously, par is two for each hole, and you are shooting for a score of 36 or better for the entire drill. Ideally you will be able to avoid any three putts, but if you do three putt, you can try to get that stroke back by making a hole in one. Keep track of your best scores and try to improve on your performance each time you go to practice.
  • Short Putt Perfection. While you are never going to find perfection on the golf course, making the vast majority of your short putts is probably as close as you are going to get. Holing out short putts is a crucial skill for any golfer to possess, and this drill will help you make progress in that regard. Take five golf balls and set up a spot to practice at a hole that is on a flat portion of the putting green. Put tees in the ground at two feet, three feet, four feet, and five feet away from the hole. Start at the two foot mark, and try to make all five balls in a row. If you are successful, back up to three feet and repeat. You keep going until you have make all 20 putts in a row – five from each of the four distances. If you miss any of the putts, you start all over again. This putting drill will provide you with the reps that you need on your short putts, as well as placing you under some pressure. When you get to those last putts from the five foot distance, you can be sure that you will be feeling the pressure to make them and complete the drill successfully.
  • Take a little bit of time out of your practice schedule to work on these two putting drills, and you should see results very quickly. Neither of these drills are complicated or extremely time consuming, but both can pay dividends when you add up your score at the end of the round.