How do you feel when you are standing over the ball, ready to hit an important putt?

Senior Putting Setup Lesson by PGA Teaching Pro Dean Butler

Do you feel like your body is perfectly positioned for the task at hand? Or, do you feel a little uncomfortable or awkward? If your putting setup is not quite serving your needs on the course, it’s almost certain that your results are falling short of expectations. In this article, we will aim to help you settle into a perfect putting setup that is going to help you knock the ball into the hole time after time.

Although the title of the article references ‘senior putting setup’, the truth is there isn’t much difference between the stance a senior will use to putt, and the stance used by a younger player. There may be a couple of adjustments you’ll need to make as you get older, and we’ll touch on those, but for the most part a senior golfer can use the same putting stance as players in younger generations. The key is to position both your body and the putter so that they can perform properly during the stroke.

It should be mentioned before we get too far along that the right putting setup position for you is not necessarily going to be the same as it would be for someone else. Putting is perhaps the most individual part of the game, as players over the years have found many different ways to roll the ball accurately toward the hole. As long as you are staying within the rules, and as long as you can repeat your stroke over and over again, there is a lot of flexibility with regard to how you get the job done. We are going to attempt to provide a framework for your stance in this article – it will be up to you to discover and settle on a final position that leads to success.

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

Characteristics of a Good Stance

Characteristics of a Good Stance

While it is certainly true that putting stances in the game of golf can look quite different from one player to the next, there are some characteristics shared by most good stances. To get things started in our article, we would like to highlight a few key points that you’ll want to keep in mind while building your putting stance. If you are able to hit on the points listed below, you will be well on your way to a stance that is going to serve you well on the greens.

  • It’s balanced. If you know anything at all about golf instruction, you know that balance is a topic which comes up over and over again. If you are going to play good golf, you need to be balanced both before and during your swings. This is a point that is sadly overlooked by many amateur golfers, and it can be blamed for a variety of problems that pop up on the course. Those who are willing to work on balance during practice will usually be rewarded in the form of improved performance down the line.
  • It’s comfortable. You need to be able to hold yourself steady during your putting stroke, and you probably won’t want to stand steady in a position that is uncomfortable. It would be best if you aren’t trying to force your body into a stance that it doesn’t naturally want to hold. Work on creating a position that is comfortable and comes somewhat naturally to you. That way, it won’t take that much practice time to get used to your putting stance, and you won’t mind holding it solid as you swing the putter back and through.
  • Shoulders square to the target line. This is an important one. You don’t want to make putting any more difficult than it needs to be, but that is exactly what you would be doing if you decide to start with your shoulders in an open or closed position. By keeping them square, the putter will be more inclined to swing directly down the target line – and that is a big step toward making more putts. It can be hard to tell if your shoulders are square when you are actually in the stance, so ask a friend to help or record your stance and stroke on video to determine if you have found a square position successfully.
  • Arms hanging freely from the shoulders. The last point on our list relates to how your arms hang down at address in order to let you grab onto the handle of the club. Ideally, your stance will be such that you can let your arms hang down naturally. You want to swing the putter freely back and through when hitting your putts, and the best way to do just that is to let your arms hang in a free and comfortable position. If you wind up reaching out awkwardly for the ball, or crowding your arms in by your body, it will be tough to achieve the free-flowing stroke needed to roll the ball predictable distances time after time.

There are a number of ways to incorporate the four points above in your putting stance. You don’t necessarily need to use a stance that looks like anyone else’s, but you do want to pay attention to these four keys as you get to work.

Finding Problems

Finding Problems

Most likely, if you are reading this article, you’ve been playing golf for some time. Maybe you just picked it up in your retirement years, or maybe you’ve been playing for decades. However long you’ve been playing, you already have some kind of putting stance in place. You might not have put much thought into that stance originally, but it is your stance nonetheless.

Since you already have a stance in place, you are not starting from scratch on this project. Rather than just trying to build a brand new stance, it’s a better plan to simply adjust the one you have been using in order to achieve better performance. By keeping the elements that are working nicely and making changes in the areas that are holding you back, you can quickly transform your putting stance into something that is going to provide you with reliable performance.

So, your task here is to find the problems present in your current stance so you can work to eliminate them one at a time. The following tips should help you locate the weak points in your putting address position.

  • Close your eyes. We mentioned earlier that balance plays a big role in your ability to make a great putting stroke. If you aren’t sure about your balance over the ball at address, try closing your eyes on the practice green for a few moments while holding your stance. With your eyes closed, you should get a better idea of whether or not you are leaning in one particular direction. It’s usually pretty easy to establish your balance from a side to side perspective, but you might find that you are leaning out over the ball or leaning back on your heels. Once you figure out where any problems with your balance may be hiding, spend some time practicing an improved stance that leaves your center of gravity directly over the middle of your stance.
  • Experiment with extremes. This is one of the best ways to settle on a stance that is going to perform well for you on the course. Basically, the idea is to take your stance from one extreme to another, allowing you to find a happy middle ground for various components of your address position. So, for example, you could stand very close to the ball for a few practice putts, followed by a few putts where you stand quite far away. Neither of those two positions is likely to be a winner, but they will give you a frame of reference. Then, gradually work your way in from those two extremes, until you find a point where you are comfortable and the putter swings naturally. This same technique works nicely for other elements of your stance such as knee flex and stance width.
  • Notice patterns. Everyone misses putts. It’s hard to roll the ball into the hole consistently, especially since you have to pair a solid stroke with a good read that judges both line and speed successfully. When you do miss a putt, don’t just hang your head and get frustrated – instead, look at it as an opportunity to improve. Take note of each of your misses and watch for any patterns that start to emerge. For example, you might find that you continually miss your short putts to the left of the hole. Only doing so one or two times could be just a random event, but consistently missing left signals an issue with your stance or stroke. In the case of this example, it could be that your shoulders are open to the target line at address. That would likely lead to the putter moving across the ball at impact, causing the ball to roll left of the intended target. Fixing your shoulder position at address may be all you need to do in order to start rolling the ball accurately once again. Whatever your pattern happens to be, use it to make decisions about how your stance can be improved.
  • Ask a pro. At some point, you might find that you are struggling to find anything else about your stance that needs to be improved. You could just call it good and go ahead with the stance you’ve built, or you could take one more step and ask a pro to help. There is almost certainly a qualified teaching professional working at your local golf course, and he or she likely offers lessons on the short game. For the modest price of a single lesson, you can have the pro check on your stance and offer any feedback. Not only will you get information about your stance that you can use to improve, but you can also get feedback on the other parts of your putting technique.

The process of finding the problems in your putting stroke is not a quick one, but it is something that is almost sure to pay off down the line. With any pre-stroke issues ironed out, you can focus on making sure the moving part of your stroke is doing its job, and you’ll be well on your way to knocking some strokes off your handicap.

Practice Ideas

Practice Ideas

While it seems to be a foreign concept to many players, you actually do need to practice your putting if you are going to get better. Many golfers opt to ignore their short game while spending all of their practice time on the driving range making full swings – but that’s just not a winning strategy. You need to work on your full swing, of course, but you also need to make sure your short game is getting plenty of attention.

If you haven’t spent a lot of time practicing your putting in the past, you might feel a little lost when you dedicate some time to this part of the game. Toward that end, we would like to provide some tips on how to practice your putting in general, and more specifically, how to practice your putting stance.

  • Hit lots of short putts. There are few things you can do during a practice session which will be as productive as hitting plenty of short putts. When you hit a lot of short putts, you accomplish a number of objectives. First of all, you build your confidence in an important area of the game. Missing short putts is hard to overcome on the scorecard, so making a bunch of these in practice is going to help you deal with the nerves that will pop up while on the links. Also, you are going to be spending plenty of time in your stance as you practice short putts, meaning you’ll get more and more comfortable as you go. Try to make time during each practice session for at least a few minutes of short putting.
  • Use only one ball. With this tip, we are going to go in a bit of a different direction than the first tip. With the first, you are going to stand in the same place and hit a bunch of short putts over and over again. Here, you are going to use only one golf ball and you are going to walk around the putting green playing a single shot at a time. This is a great way to practice because it is exactly how you are going to putt on the course. You don’t get to hit putts repeatedly during your rounds – you only get one try and then you have to move on. Anytime you can replicate what you will see on the course with what you are doing in practice, that has to be seen as a good thing. In addition to that benefit, you will also get to practice taking your stance each time you walk up to a new putt. Instead of staying down in your stance for several putts, you’ll go in and out of it after each one. The repetition of teaching your body how to find the right position is going to do wonders for your ability to get into that stance on the course.
  • Find a mirror. Think you have to be at the golf course to practice your putting stance? Think again – you can practice your stance right at home, without even having a golf club in sight. When you have a couple of free minutes available, try standing in front of a mirror in your home and taking your putting stance so you can look at your reflection and see how you are doing. This is something that will only take a moment or two of your time, yet it can help you to gradually improve on your putting position.

It sounds obvious, yet it is overlooked by so many – you need to practice if you hope to play better golf. When it comes to putting, that means you need to dedicate time to working hard on the practice green on a regular basis. Between getting comfortable with your stance and learning how to control the pace of your putts, there is a lot to accomplish during these sessions. If possible, do what you can to make your practice sessions fun and enjoyable, so they don’t feel so much like work. When you look forward to practicing your putting, you are more likely to actually work on your putting stroke frequently.

Possible Age-Related Adjustments

Possible Age-Related Adjustments

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all run into challenges as we age. Those challenges usually sneak up on us, as our bodies gradually are not able to work quite as effectively as they did at one time. Although putting is far from the most physically demanding thing you can do in sports – or even just in golf – there might be some issues that come up which restrict your ability to putt as you did when you were younger. The list below highlights some ways you might be able to adjust for the difficulties that can be presented by age.

  • Back troubles. These are extremely common for golfers, so don’t feel alone if you start to have problems with your back as you age (players of all ages can have back trouble, of course). If you feel like your back problems are making it hard for you to spend extended periods of time practicing your putting, consider standing with your back in a more vertical position in your stance. Staying more upright may make you more comfortable, allowing you to practice more and eventually to get the results you desire. Of course, you will need to find a way to manage your back issues if you are going to be able to stay out on the course and make swings, so see a medical professional if necessary to find ways to manage this problem.
  • Hand problems. Arthritis is an issue faced by many in the senior age category, and arthritis in your hands can make it quite difficult to grasp the club comfortably. If your hands are giving you trouble, and you don’t feel like holding the putter very long as a result, look into the possibility of using a thicker grip to make your hands more comfortable. There are many thick putter grips on the market today, so you shouldn’t have to look long in order to find a good option.
  • Taking it easy on your knees. Finally, you might find that your knees don’t appreciate trying to hold a flexed position as long as is necessary to roll a great putt. It’s not worth forcing yourself down into a deep knee flex for the purposes of hitting a putt, as you’ll never perform great if you are uncomfortable while the putting stroke unfolds. In this case, feel free to work on learning how to putt while keeping your legs nearly straight. It’s still a good idea to have a bit of knee flex if you can, but don’t worry about going down too far. If anything, you might need to use a slightly longer putter to make up for your taller stance.

As a senior golfer, you might not have quite the same firepower as you did a few years ago. But that’s okay – you can still write great scores on your card by trading some power for improved prowess on the greens. We hope the ideas in this article will help you get on the right track, first in practice and then out on the course. Good luck and have fun out there!