Wristy Putting Stroke Cause And Cure, Golf Tip

A wristy putting stroke occurs when either one or both wrists 'break down' and cause a flicking action with the hands.

It is a common fault with many players, especially those who struggle with the putter. Its cause can be routed in either poor technique or mental approach.


To help stop a wristy putting stroke, players should first of all ensure they are gripping the putter correctly, especially in the left hand (for right handed golfers). Players want the grip to run up the lifeline of the left palm. Gripping the putter like this takes a lot of the power away from the fingers which encourage the wrists to become active. By gripping the putter in the left lifeline, the club becomes more a part of the left forearm. This helps stop a wristy stroke.

To take the wrists out of the putting stroke is regarded by most short game experts as a key fundamental of the modern pendulum putting technique. This modern technique sees the hands, wrists and arms held together as one unit whilst the shoulders drive the stroke, rocking back and through with the club acting like the pendulum of a grandfather clock. If the wrists break down during the pendulum technique then the method fails. To practice keeping the wrists firm though impact, focus on keeping the back of the left hand facing down the target line throughout the stroke. If the wrists break down then the back of the left hand will arc upward and face towards the sky. Keep the left wrist firm and pointing down the target line.

Mental Approach

As well as being linked to technical deficiencies in the putting technique, a wristy stroke can be caused by anxiety and a poor mental approach to a particular putt. To become a better putter, players need to take a positive, thorough and consistent mental approach to each putt they have. Using some good mental preparation can help achieve this.

Basic putting pre-shot routine:

1. Read the green - make sure before hitting a putt you walk round the hole and judge the slope from multiple angles, not just from behind the ball looking down the target line. The key thing about green reading is not only selecting a line but committing to the choice. Don't stop reading a putt until you have 100% made up your mind and picked a line and pace, this will help you be more positive about the putt.

2. Practice strokes – Take your practice putts by the side of your ball not only to get the weight of the putt clearer but to imagine the ball rolling into the cup. Using your imagination will engage the brain and allow it to warn the body what to do.

3. Hit the putt with confidence – after the green reading and imagining the ball rolling into the hole, commit to the stroke.

Wristy putting strokes are a common problem with many golfers but can be overcome by practicing good physical and mental technique.

Wristy Putting Stroke – Cause and Cure

Wristy Putting Stroke – Cause and Cure

Putting is unlike any other part of the game. Throughout the rest of the course, there is some continuity to the technique that you need to use in order to send the ball toward the target. Sure, you will make some minor adjustments when you move from swinging a driver to hitting an iron shot, but those two actions are more similar than they are different. Everything changes, however, when you step onto the green. The technique you should be using with your putter is a complete departure from how you use the rest of your clubs, and this creates a problem for countless amateur golfers.

When making a full swing, you use your hands and wrists actively to help move the club back and through. You should be hinging your wrists during the backswing to set the club in position, and you should hold that deep into the downswing. Prior to impact, however, the set will be released and you will fire the club head through with as much force as possible. Your right hand – for a right-handed golfer – plays an important role at impact, delivering the last bit of power that you can muster. When executed correctly, the full swing is a beautiful thing, capable of hitting the ball hundreds of yards down the fairway. The hand and wrist action used during the swing can be complicated, but it is necessary to achieve the desired results.

So, why should your putting technique be so much different? For starters, you aren't trying to hit the ball very far at all. Usually, you are only rolling the ball a relatively short distance, on top of very short grass. The force needed to deal with an average putt are negligible, and it simply isn't hard to produce a swing that carries enough energy to send the ball all the way to the hole. Also, you aren't trying to hit the ball up in the air, so you don't need an aggressive swing to impart backspin on the shot. Compared to the full swing, putting is incredibly simple, and you might even be tempted to think that it is easy.

Of course, it is not easy. While different than the full swing, putting presents its own unique challenges. In this article, we are going to talk about how you can use proper putting technique to improve your own performance. Specifically, we are going to talk about why your wrists may be getting in the way of your current stroke, and what can be done to take them out of the picture. If you have a wristy putting stroke at the moment, it is nearly certain that you are not making your fair share of putts. By moving away from a wristy action and building a proper stroke that is driven by your shoulders, a whole new world of possibilities will open up on the course.

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 a Wristy Stroke

Causes of a Wristy Stroke

To get to the bottom of the issue of the wristy putting stroke, we are going to have to start all the way back at the beginning. What causes this faulty technique in the first place? As is usually the case in golf, there are many potential answers. If you have a wristy stroke, your reasons for using that stroke are likely different than another player with the same problem. Take some time to think about where this type of stroke came from in your game and you'll be better able to correct it moving forward.

Let's look at a few of the common reasons that golfers use a wristy putting stroke.

  • Emulating the full swing. This is likely the most common reason that golfers decide to use their wrists actively when putting. Since the hands and wrists are active in the full swing, why shouldn't they be the same way when putting? At first, this makes sense, especially to a new golfer. We'll see later on in the article why this does not actually work, but it's easy to understand this line of thinking.
  • It seems like an easy option. If you know nothing about golf and you just pick up a putter to give it a try, you'll probably make a wristy stroke. Why? It feels easy! It takes very little effort to flick the putter head back and through, and the ball will quickly be on its way. You use your hands for just about everything else in life, so it only makes sense that you would use them here as well. This is especially true when trying to perform a delicate task like rolling a ball into a hole. You trust your hands on a day to day basis to complete countless jobs, and putting seems like another one you could add to the list.
  • Starting on slow greens. There is something to be said for using at least a bit of wrist action in your stroke when putting on slow greens. If you got started in this game on a course with particularly slow greens, you may have needed to use your wrists to knock the ball up toward the hole. Of course, nearly every golf course these days has relatively quick greens, meaning there isn't much need for a wristy stroke. Still, old habits die hard, so you might be stuck with a wristy stroke as a result of your beginnings in the game.
  • Nerves. Some golfers, when they get nervous, revert to a wristy putting stroke while trying to guide the ball toward the hole. This is a mistake, but it is a hard habit to break for many players. If you make this mistake often enough, the wrist stroke may simply become your normal stroke, and any solid technique you had built up will disappear. Nerves have been known to do plenty of bad things to golfers over the years, and wreaking havoc with the putting stroke is near the top of that list.

There are plenty of ways you can end up with a wristy stroke. Your story may fit into one of the points above, or you may have your own reasons for winding up at this point. Now that you've thought about what has led up to this point in your putting technique, it is time to dedicate yourself to finding a solution. If you are serious about playing better golfer moving forward, fixing your putting stroke is going to play a key role in that development.

What's the Problem?

What's the Problem?

To this point, we have talked about wristy putting strokes in a negative light, but we haven't stopped to explain why they don't tend to work. In this section, we are going to address that very issue. Why is a wristy putting stroke the wrong way to go on the greens? What can go wrong when you try to putt using hand and wrist action? Let's take a look.

  • Lack of speed control. For starters, you are going to have trouble controlling the speed of your putts when you use too much wrist action. It is going to be hard to accurately control the amount of force you use in the stroke when you are flipping your wrists through impact, since the small muscles of your hands and wrists will be in charge of the action. Small muscles are great for many things, but they don't provide the predictability that is offered by bigger muscle groups. If you put control of the stroke into your shoulders rather than your hands and arms, you should be able to swing the putter through the ball in a more predictable manner. This will mean better speed control overall, especially under pressure.
  • Inability to hit the proper line. To hit a successful putt, you need to control your speed and also hit the line you have selected. We've already pointed out that the speed is going to be a challenge, and this point highlights the fact that hitting your line will be tough as well. The face of the putter is going to open and close more dramatically with a wristy stroke, meaning you'll have to have excellent timing in order to hit your line. Sure, you might do it from time to time, but it's nearly impossible to be consistent this way. When you take the wrist action out of your stroke, the face of the putter will become more stable, and the goal of hitting your line will suddenly be within reach.
  • Struggles under pressure. When you feel pressure on the golf course, it is tough to play at your best. This is particularly true on the greens, where pressure can do ugly things to your putting stroke. If you use a wristy stroke, there is a good chance that you will have trouble performing at your best when the nerves start to set in. You don't want to go through your rounds knowing that your putting stroke may break down at the worst possible time. By switching to a stroke that is controlled by your shoulders rather than your wrists, your performance under pressure should improve in short order.
  • Fundamental inconsistency. When it comes down to it, the real probably with using your wrists to move the putter is inconsistency, plain and simple. This idea has been mentioned within the points above, but it deserves its own point here to highlight the issue. You are always going to struggle to repeat your stroke when you use your wrists as a primary part of the action. The shape and pace of your stroke will change from putt to putt, and you'll have trouble knocking the ball in the hole as a result.

Using your wrists to drive the putting stroke, at least in the modern game, is not a good idea. In days gone by, when greens were much slower, a wristy putting stroke was a very viable option. In fact, it may have been the best way to approach this part of the game. Players decades ago were smart to use a wristy stroke, but that style of game is long gone. Greens are much faster today, and as a result, the wristy stroke is not nearly as effective as it was for previous generations.

Today, the best players in the world use pendulum-style putting strokes, and you should be doing the same. This is the best option to deal with the fast greens that are so common today, as it is the easiest way to produce repeatable results. If you've been trying to get by with a wristy stroke up until now, it's about time you make the change once and for all.