pre putt routine read putt

Ask any golf pro or teacher to name the keys to consistency, and they'll list the pre-shot routine at or near the top. Repeating the same steps before each and every shot, no matter the length, club or situation, helps ensure your swing will repeat, too.

The same holds true on the greens. Like a pre-shot routine from the tee or fairway, there's no single best way to go about preparing to putt. But there are a handful of steps that should be taken. Here they are:

  • Read the putt from at least one angle: Always study the line from behind the ball looking toward the hole. If time permits, check it out from the other side as well.
  • Choose your target: On a straight putt, that means the hole. If the putt will break, find a target (discolored grass, a distant leaf) in line with the break's high point.
  • pre putt line up address

  • Line up the ball and putter face: Line up the ball's alignment aid (usually a brand name or arrow) with the target.
  • Address the ball: Step to the ball and assume your setup, aligning the putter face where the ball is aimed.

Look and go: Look once or twice at the putt's line, tracking the intended path to and from the hole. Take the same number of glances on every putt. After your final view, take a deep breath and stroke the putt. Try to maintain the same interval between look and stroke every time.

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When hitting full shots, you probably have a routine you go through before making a swing.

Pre-Putt Routine Can Aid Consistency

Perhaps you make a certain kind of practice swing to rehearse a specific move, or maybe you close your eyes and take a deep breath. Whatever it may be, this routine helps you to get your mind in the right place to make a great swing. Unfortunately, many golfers fall out of this habit when they get onto the greens – and that is a mistake. In this article, we are going to talk about the importance of using a pre-putt routine to aid putting consistency.

It should go without saying that consistency is one of the key ingredients to good putting results. If you only hit good putts on a periodic basis, it's going to be tough to ever reach your potential as a player. No, you're never going to make all of your putts, but improving the consistency of your technique will help you roll more of them in the cup than ever before. While a pre-putt routine is not going to magically make you a great putter – you still need to have other skills, such as good green reading and a reliable stroke – using a routine will take you one step closer to your goals.

It is important to note that your pre-putt routine can and should be unique to your game. There is no need to copy the routine used by someone else, since that player has his or her own putting issues to consider. Most pre-shot or pre-putt routines have been built based on a specific problem or two that the player is trying to solve. For instance, if you know that you tend to rush your putting stroke, making a couple of very slow practice strokes during your routine may help you find a good rhythm. While we are going to provide plenty of advice below on how you can build and use your routine, we aren't going to lay out an exact step-by-step routine for you to follow. That would be a waste of time, as the best routine for your game is going to be one that you build from the ground up.

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.

Solving Problems

Solving Problems

The best place to start when thinking about how to design a pre-putt routine is to think about where you tend to come up short on the greens. What is it that gives you trouble when you putt? Do you have trouble relaxing over the ball, therefore you end up making a tense stroke that never quite gets the ball rolling properly? Or so you struggle with the consistency of your stroke, constantly pulling or pushing your putts even from short range? Whatever the case may be, the idea here is to design your pre-putt routine in such a way that it will help you solve problems you typically encounter.

So, how do you figure out what your biggest weaknesses are on the greens? First, you need to pay close attention. When you miss a short putt on the course, or when you hit a bad lag putt that leaves you in danger of three putting, you need to understand what went wrong before you can actually fix the issue. As you walk from the green to the next tee, reflect on your putting experience and think about what went right and what went wrong. Instead of just being annoyed or frustrated by your poor performance, take a practical approach and think carefully about what happened. If you can make this a habit, you will soon have enough information gathered up in your mind to make some decisions about your pre-putt routine.

Of course, you might find it hard to keep track of all of these different thoughts, since you are going to play 18 different holes during the course of an average round. So, to make sure you keep everything straight, consider adding a small notebook to your bag. Using this notebook, you can quickly jot down thoughts you have about your putting during the day. Also, you can use the notebook to keep track of other issues you might be having with the rest of your game that you'd like to work on later. Then, when each round is over, you can sit down and review the notes you have made. As rounds go by and your notebook gets bigger and bigger, the wealth of information you've accumulated will go a long way toward helping you improve.

To help you zero in on where it is that your putting performance is going wrong, the list below includes some of the common issues that amateur golfers encounter.

  • Early head movement. This is one of the classic mistakes that you can make on the greens. If you move your head early during your putting stroke, the putter will likely veer off course and you'll probably miss the putt in the end. By keeping your head stable, it is far easier to make a stroke which tracks perfectly down the target line through the ball. If head movement is a problem which seems to plague your game, adding an element to your pre-putt routine which addresses this issue is a wise choice.
  • Too much hand action. Another common problem among amateur golfers on the greens. Ideally, you want to keep your hands and wrists mostly quiet during the stroke, using your shoulders to rock the putter back and through. Again, this is another issue which you may want to address during your routine. If you work on something that will help remind you to keep your hands out of the action while putting, it will be far easier to do the same thing once the actual putting stroke is underway.
  • Rushing. Players who tend to struggle with the putter will often rush simply to get it over with as quickly as possible. As you might imagine, rushing through your putting stroke is never a good way to go. So, if this is an issue for you, try adding something to your pre-putt routine which will help you slow down and maintain an excellent tempo throughout your entire stroke. This may be something as simple as a deep breath, or it may mean making a smooth practice stroke or two so you can settle into a rhythm.

In reality, there are nearly endless options for what could be going wrong on the greens. It will be up to you to figure out what is going wrong with your putting at the moment and then create a routine that addresses those issues head on. It should also be noted that there is a good chance your pre-putt routine will need to evolve over time. As the rounds go by, you will probably come and go in and out of different patterns and problems. As your needs on the greens change, so too should your pre-putt routine adjust to make sense for your current situation. It's always necessary to adapt in golf and that is certainly true when it comes to pre-putt routines.

Possible Options

Possible Options

As was mentioned in the introduction, we are not going to provide a step-by-step pre-putt routine for you to copy, because that really isn't a good idea. Your routine should be customized to your needs, and we can't do that within the context of an article. What we can do, however, is list out some of the possible elements that you may want to include. These elements are commonly seen in many pre-putt routines, so they are certainly worth your consideration. In the end, it will be up to you to decide which ones to use, which to ignore, and how to bring everything together (more on that later).

  • A practice stroke. Okay – so this was a pretty obvious place to start. Most golfers use a practice putting stroke before hitting their actual putt, and you probably do the same. Even if you don't yet have a formal pre-putt routine, you almost certainly make at least one practice stroke before each putt, and maybe more. The idea behind a practice stroke is to feel the stroke that you plan to use when hitting the putt – you should be trying to use the exact speed, rhythm, and stroke length that you intend to use when hitting the ball. You don't want to take so many practice strokes that you slow down the overall pace of play, but it shouldn't take long at all to complete one or two before stepping into your stance.
  • A last look at the line. The idea of a pre-putt routine is that it should be performed once you are done working out the line that you are going to use for a putt. You walk about the green getting your read, decide on a plan, and then go into your routine as you prepare to send the ball on its way. In other words, you shouldn't be getting your read as you go through your routine – that part of the job should already be done. However, as part of your routine, you should consider including a last look at your line just to visualize where you want the ball to go. Be as specific as possible when looking down the intended line toward the hole. This last look before you settle into your stance may help you aim the putter head correctly on a most consistent basis.
  • A deep breath. Sometimes, the best thing you can do before hitting a putt is just to relax for a moment. A deep breath – or two – may be just the thing to slow down your mind and calm your nerves. It is easy to rush through the process of hitting a putt, but golf is not a game that tends to reward those who are in a hurry. With all of the prep work done for your putt, stopping to take a deep breath is a great way to relax and focus on the task at hand. Some players choose to combine a deep breath with closing their eyes as a way to focus even further, but you can decide whether or not that is right for you.
  • Relax your grip. As you walk around gathering the information you need to pick out a line and speed for your putt, you are going to be holding onto the putter. Unfortunately, you may notice that your grip gets tighter and tighter as you get closer to actually hitting the putt. And, as you may know, a tight grip is not a good thing in this game. So, as part of your routine, consider planning in a moment where you can relax your grip, wiggle your fingers a bit, and confirm that your grip pressure is appropriate for the putt to come. This is an easy point to overlook while you are caught up in everything else you need to think about, so including it in your routine will help you stay on track with regard to grip pressure.

The list of four ideas above really only scratches the surface of what you could potentially include in your routine. While those four points are relatively popular, you are sure to see many other elements included in golfer's routines when you start to pay attention to them on the greens. Start to think about the elements you would like to include in your own routine and make a list to keep them straight. You might not be able to include everything on the list in the putting routine you eventually settle on, but working from a master list will make the whole process a bit easier to manage.

Final Thoughts - We have covered a lot of ground so far in our discussion on pre-putt routines. Before we finish up the article, we'd like to mention a few other points that may help you get the most out of your routine.

  • Every single time. A pre-putt routine is not something that you decide to use from time to time, when you feel like it. For instance, you shouldn't just walk up and hit most of your putts, only to pull out your pre-putt routine when you face a particularly important situation. The whole point of building a routine like this is to use it hole after hole, round after round. It will get stronger and more beneficial as time goes one, since it will become a built-in part of your game. Eventually, you won't even need to think about going through your routine – it will just sort of happen as you are getting ready to putt.
  • Be adaptable. We mentioned this point early in the article, but it bears repeating here. As time goes by, your putting stroke is likely to change, and so too will the needs of your pre-putt routine change. Be willing to make adjustments as you go in response to what you see happening on the greens. For instance, if a new problem starts to pop up in your stroke that causes you to struggle with your performance, address that problem during your routine.
  • Build a great full-swing routine as well. Stepping back off the greens, you will find that a pre-swing routine is just as important when talking about full shots. Hopefully, you already have one in place in your game. If not, now is the time to get started. The general idea is exactly the same – you want a routine which addresses your needs specifically, doesn't take too long, and is easy to repeat over and over again. By having both a pre-swing and pre-putt routine in place, you will have excellent consistency throughout your game. No matter what kind of shot you are trying to hit, you will have a trusted routine that brings you up to the ball in a positive frame of mind.

Is it required to have a pre-putt routine in order to play golf? No – of course not. You could just walk up to the ball aimlessly, point your putter somewhere out toward the hole, and make a stroke. That method would never get great results, however, so it is wise to build a plan and then stick with that plan before each putt. We hope the tips provided in this article will help you construct a pre-putt routine that leads to excellent outcomes. Good luck!