Back and through. Back and through. Back and through. Compared with the full swing, the putting stroke seems like a piece of cake. Then why do our results vary so wildly from round to round?

How to Correct Inconsistent Golf Putting

Why, indeed. For one thing, you can stroke a putt perfectly and still miss it due to the vagaries of the green. Miss two or three in a row and, no matter how well you hit them, confidence inevitably wanes. And everyone knows confidence is the key to great putting.

Unfortunately, true confidence can't be faked. Nor can you will yourself to believe you'll make putts when your results say otherwise. The only way to get confidence is to earn it. And the best way to earn it is to develop a fundamentally sound method that's reliable, round after round.

Let's boil down the basics of good putting to a list of three. Master them, practice them regularly and your putting will be as dependable as a loyal pet.

  • Clubface alignment: Golfers tend to over-focus on the stroke and clubhead path. These variables are far less important in putting than on full shots due to the minimal speed involved. In fact, one study shows that clubface angle at impact has an 83% influence on the ball's starting direction, vs. just 17% for clubhead path. In other words, if your stroke is off line but the face is pointed on line, you still stand a good chance of holing the putt.

This video offers sound suggestions for lining up your putts right on the money:

  • Help with Golf Putter Alignment
  • Acceleration: Fail to accelerate the putter through the ball and you'll routinely miss left (for a right-hander) and short. Again, accelerating seems like such a simple thing to do – unlike the full swing, putting doesn't require synchronization between hips, torso, shoulders and arms. Quite frankly, it is simple.

If you're plagued by deceleration, your stroke is probably too long. When you pull the putter back too far, your mind says, “Whoa, big fella,” causing you to slow down the through-stroke for fear of crushing the ball. A shorter, firmer stroke works best for most amateurs. The shorter it is, the less that can go wrong.

Here's an article featuring two drills to boost your acceleration:

During your stroke, the slightest head movement can alter the level, line and pace of your shoulders. Move the head and you'll most often push your putts. You'll also fail to make solid contact, come up short or fail to hold the line.

  • How do you keep your head steady from setup to finish? Well, you just do it. On short putts, don't lift your head until you hear the ball hit the bottom of the cup. (Don't worry, it will.) From beyond five feet, count to two before peaking.

Learning and maintaining great putting fundamentals – easier said than done? Not really. Spend 30 minutes a week on these three keys and you'll nail them down.

How to Correct Inconsistent Golf Putting

How to Correct Inconsistent Golf Putting

To shoot good scores, you need to bring together many different parts of your game into a cohesive package. You need to hit consistent tee shots, you need to hit accurate approach shots, and you need to make smart decisions all along the way. Of course, tee shots, approach shots, and good decisions are only going to take you so far. If you are going to finish off your rounds with great scores, you will need one more thing – great putting. For many golfers, it is this last piece of the puzzle that is the hardest to move into place.

In this article, we are going to address the topic of consistency on the greens. It doesn't do much good to just putt well from time to time. Rather, you need to putt well day after day, round after round. When you know that you can trust your putter to get the job done, the rest of the game will suddenly seem easier. Even if you are having a bad day with your driver, or with your irons, you'll know that you can lean on your putter to get you out of trouble.

So, how do you achieve the goal of consistent putting performance? You'll need a combination of physical technique and mental preparation. You need to have the right stroke in place to send the ball toward the target, and you need to know how to control your mind. It should go without saying that you are only going to make progress if you dedicate yourself to practicing your putting on a regular basis. Every improvement you make in golf is going to require plenty of hard work, and putting is certainly no different. Practicing your putting might not be the most exciting part of playing this game, but it is necessary if you hope to reach new heights with your game in the months and years to come.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Causes of Inconsistency

Causes of Inconsistency

If you are like most golfers, you have plenty of good putting days. On these days, you manage to control the speed of your putts properly, you get good reads, and you seem to hit your line over and over again. These are fun days, of course, and they usually lead to some of your best scores.

Unfortunately, for the typical amateur, these kinds of days are few and far between. The average round is filled with many more misses than makes, and probably a few three putts along the way. It's tough to post a good score when your putter turns against you, and these types of rounds are rarely satisfying.

So, what is it that causes you to be so inconsistent from one round to the next? Let's take a closer look.

  • Faulty mechanics. For most golfers, this is where the inconsistency begins. When you have poor mechanics, it is hard to perform at a high level on a regular basis. Sure, you will have those days when your technique comes together and you hit a bunch of good putts, but that isn't going to happen with regularity. You'll always feel like you are 'fighting' your stroke, and it will be a struggle to hit the target line. If your mechanics are at the heart of your putting issues, it will be helpful to go back to the basics in order to get things on track. Fortunately, proper putting mechanics are pretty simple, so it doesn't need to take a long time to make improvements in this area.
  • Poor preparation. Even if you play the same golf course over and over again, you can't expect to find consistent putting conditions from day to day. There are a number of factors involved in determining the speed of greens, including mowing schedules, weather, the time of day, and more. Just because the greens were one speed yesterday does not mean you can count on them to play the same way today. With putting conditions always changing, it is your job to get ready for the challenge that you are going to face in each new round. Spend at least a few minutes putting before you head to the first tee, if to do nothing other than get comfortable with the pace of the greens. You don't want to have to find your way once the round gets started, as you might waste some strokes early before you settle in. Do your work prior to starting your round so you can putt your best right from the start.
  • Lack of focus. You might not think of this as an issue that affects your putting, but you might want to think again. When you fail to focus properly on the greens, it is hard to achieve the results you desire. One common problem is getting caught up chatting with your playing partners, rather than focusing on the job at hand. If you are simply standing off to the side of the green talking, rather than reading your putt and getting ready for the stroke, you aren't going to be prepared when it's your turn. Then, as you walk up to hit your putt, you'll just take a quick glance at the line and send the ball on its way. You are never going to perform consistently this way, so work on improving your focus if you'd like to make more putts. Save your conversation for other points during the round when you don't have anything to do. While on the green waiting to putt, you should be focused on the task at hand.
  • Excessive speed. Players who tend to putt with an aggressive style are usually going to be less consistent than those who roll the ball gently up toward the hole. For example, on a relatively flat ten-foot putt, how aggressive will you be with your speed? Are you going to rush the ball up toward the hole, hoping to knock it in the back of the cup? Or are you going to take the cautious route, using speed that has the ball stop right around the ten-foot mark? There is something to be said for being aggressive in some situations – it can help you hold the line – but this is a risky way to putt. When you run the ball past the hole, there is no guarantee that you'll make the comeback effort. Quickly, a good birdie chance can turn into a three-putt bogey, and you'll walk off the green frustrated. If you are working toward a goal of improved consistency on the greens, consider using less aggressive speed to leave yourself with easier second putts. This is usually a less-stressful way to go, and your overall putting performance will probably be better for it in the end.

There are many ways in which your putting performance can go wrong during the course of a round. Sometimes, you will start off putting well, only to lose your touch somewhere along the way. In other cases, you will never find it, and rolling the ball into the hole will be a struggle right from the start. With the rest of this article, we are going to focus on finding some solutions so you can putt at a higher level round after round.

Solidify Your Technique

Solidify Your Technique

The biggest step you can take toward consistency is going to come when you solidify your putting technique. As we mentioned earlier, proper putting mechanics aren't actually that complicated, but you do need to understand them thoroughly. Once you know what you are trying to accomplish – both with your stance and your stroke – will be simply be a matter of making it happen through plenty of practice.

Let's take a look at four important keys that you should be monitoring as you build your putting stroke.

  • A strong and stable base. The first mechanical key we are going to highlight doesn't actually have anything to do with your stroke. Instead, it is focused on your lower body, as you are going to need a stable base if you are going to make consistent strokes. Set your feet slightly outside shoulder width apart, and make sure there is plenty of flex in your knees. You can experiment somewhat with your stance width until you find a comfortable position, but avoid getting too narrow. You want to feel secure as you stand over the ball so you can make your stroke freely without losing balance at any point.
  • Quiet please. There should be minimal movement in your putting stroke. In fact, the only parts of your body you should be consciously moving are your shoulders. To move the putter, you are simply going to rock your shoulders back and forth – that's the whole stroke. Your hands and wrists should maintain stable as you let the shoulders do the job. It is hard for most golfers to simplify their stroke down to this basic motion, as they feel like they need to do something else in order to help the ball on its way. Resist the temptation to get other parts of your body involved and allow your shoulders to run the show.
  • Relaxed grip pressure. One of the best things you can do for consistency on the greens is to relax your grip pressure while holding the putter. You aren't swinging the putter very hard, so you don't need a tight grip to keep control of the club. Let the putter hang freely from your hands while using just enough pressure keep the head stable through the hitting area. If you are used to putting with a tight grip, it is going to take a bit of time to get comfortable with this technique, so make this a point of emphasis during practice.

Control your eyes. As the putter swings, your eyes should be locked onto the golf ball until it rolls away. This is one of those classic golf tips that tends to get overlooked, despite its importance. You have certainly been told that you are supposed to 'keep your eyes on the ball', but do you always do the job? Probably not. If you have trouble watching the ball throughout your stroke, try marking a mark on your ball that you can use as a visual aid. Keep your eyes trained on that mark until the ball rolls away and your stroke will be better for it.

If you can successfully integrate all four of the points above into your putting stroke, you are sure to be on the right path. That list might look a little intimidating at first, but it actually shouldn't take long to work these keys into your technique. Tackle them one at a time, only moving on when you are happy with your progress on the previous point. Before long, you'll have a stroke you can be proud of, and your putting performance will be more consistent.