Causes and Cures: Pulling Your Putts - Golf (Video)
Causes and Cures: Pulling Your Putts - Golf (Video)

If you've started to notice that when you're missing putts you're generally missing them on the left-hand side, as a pulled putt would go left for the right-handed golfer, here’s a couple of things for you to consider also. Maybe your golf ball position is setting up too far forward in your stance. Therefore, as the clubhead comes towards the ball, it starts to rotate and to close down. So having the ball too far forward is a problem. I’d encourage you to position it just slightly ahead of center, almost like a 6-iron within your stance. Then we've got to make sure that you're not too close to the ball. Anytime you get too close to the ball when you're putting, that would often make the hands rotate around your front leg causing some pulled putt there so we've make sure that's not happening.

The other major fact that causes some pulled putt is a deceleration in your stroke. Decelerating as you're coming into the golf ball is a massive factor. The toe would overtake the heel and the ball would go left off a closed face. The major problem with decelerating is that your back swing is probably too long, creating too much power and then you have to slow down as you hit the putt because you're scared of whacking it across the other side of the green. So if you have a very long back swing that then decelerates as you hit the ball, you'd often see the pull had closed over.

So a little exercise for you to practice here. I’ve got the golf ball I’m going to hit and two marker golf balls. This on the back swing is going to limit my back swing so I can hit it. And then this one and the follow through is going to encourage me to actually push beyond that ball so I’ll make sure my back swing is shorter and my follow through is longer. If you can practice this exercise just at home -- you don’t need to actually hit golf balls towards the targets or into a hole but just feel like you make a one-third back swing and a two-thirds follow through to encourage a nice accelerating stroke rather than hitting that one and then decelerating before you get to that one. That would be major reason why you might be pulling putts. Improve that aspect of your game. Improve on that drill and hopefully you'll hold more of those putts.

2012-08-08

There are a few reasons you can wind up missing a putt.

Causes and Cures of Pulling Your Putts

For one thing, you could simply misread the putt. This happens all the time, and it is going to keep happening even as you improve your skills in this area. It’s simply difficult to read all of your putts correctly with so many variables coming into play. Also, you can get the speed of your putt wrong, causing the ball to miss because it either comes up short or races past. Good putters focus on speed control because they know just how important it is to their success.

In addition to reading a putt incorrectly or hitting it with the wrong speed, you can also hit the ball in the wrong direction. That means hitting either a push or a pull. For a right-handed golfer, a push is a putt which misses to the right of the target line, while a pull is a putt which misses to the left. In this article, we are going to focus on the second of those issues. If you are struggling with pulled putts, we hope the content below will help you get back on track.

To help you gain a clear understanding of this topic from top to bottom, we are going to walk through a few steps. First, we are going to talk about how you can determine whether or not pulled putts are actually a problem in your game at the moment. Then, we’ll discuss some of the common causes of pulled putts, before finally looking at how you can correct your errors. It is going to take time and effort to improve your putting and reduce the number of pulls you hit from round to round, but that effort will be worth it when you are able to record lower scores.

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.

Is This Really a Problem?

Is This Really a Problem?

If you are pulling your putts, you have a problem that you need to address. However, missing putts consistently to the left of the hole does not automatically mean that you are pulling the ball. Before you bother trying to make changes to your stroke, you need to first confirm that what you are dealing with is actually a pull. Once that’s been determined, you can move forward and try to correct your errors.

There are three main reasons why you would wind up missing a putt to the left of the hole. Those reasons are as follows –

  • You pulled it. Okay – so we’ll start here because this is the subject of this article. When you pull a putt, it means that you have hit the ball on a line which is to the left of your intended line. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the location of the hole, because your intended line would have taken into account the slope of the green that you read before making the stroke. A pulled putt is the result of having the face of your putter closed at impact. When you contact the ball with the face closed, the inevitable outcome is that the ball is going to take off to the left of where you intended. And, unless you happened to miss-read the green in a way that allows this mistake to work out, your ball will likely miss the cup to the left when all is said and done. This is a relatively common putting error, and we will talk about the causes of this issue – and the cures – later in the article.
  • You misread the green. It’s entirely possible that a putt could miss to the left of the hole despite you making a perfect stroke. This is what will happen when you read the green incorrectly. For example, you may face a putt from about 10 feet away from the hole which you think is going to roll perfectly straight from start to finish. You don’t see any break in the putt, so you decide to play it straight and hope for the best. You make a great stroke and send the ball perfectly down your target line – only to see it turn left halfway to the hole and wind up missing on the left side. Does this count as a pull? Of course not. You made a good stroke, and it was simply an error in reading the green that caused the ball to miss. If you decided to make changes to your technique based on this kind of miss, you would be harming your game for no reason. The stroke wasn’t the problem, so don’t change it even though the ball didn’t go in.
  • You aimed incorrectly. This is the one that most golfers miss. Most of the time, when a golfer misses a putt that he or she feels like they should have made, the discussion will go in one of two directions – it was a bad stroke, or it was a bad read. Those are possibilities, of course, but few golfers realize that a third option is a very possible cause of the miss. When you stand up over the ball, you need to make sure that you actually aim down the target line you have selected for the putt. This is harder than it sounds, and not something you should take for granted. When you see a putt slide by the hole on the left side, it may not have missed because of a poor stroke or a poor read. In the end, you might have missed simply because you didn’t aim where you intended to aim when you walked up to the ball. If you wound up aiming a bit left by mistake, the ball was destined to miss even if you got the other two pieces of the puzzle just right.

So – we’ve got three possibilities here for why you would wind up missing a putt to the left. How do you know which of the three is to blame? That’s where it gets tricky. It’s hard to see exactly what happened to your putt from your position standing over the ball. It’s easier to view a putt from behind, but obviously that is not where you will be standing as you make the stroke. Also, another complicating factor is the possibility that two – or even all three – of these points came together to cause the putt to miss. It’s entirely possible that you could misread a putt slightly, and also hit a bit of a pull, in order to wind up with the ball rolling past on the left. Nothing is ever simple in golf, and that is certainly true in this situation.

The best way to determine if you have a pull tendency in your stroke is to run some tests during practice. It’s far easier to evaluate the quality of your stroke during practice than it is when you are out on the course. To check on whether or not you seem to be pulling the ball with your putting stroke, find a perfectly flat putt on the practice green. This putt should only be a few feet in length, and you should confirm before you start that the ball will roll straight into the hole when you make a good stroke. You can check on this by simply crouching down and rolling a few balls up toward the hole. This will give you a clear indication of any slope that may be present in this part of the green.

Once you have found a place to practice, you will need to get set up to hit a few putts. Set an extra club on the ground just outside of your target line, and parallel with that line that you are going to use for the putt. This will help you to line up perfectly for each putt, taking that variable out of the picture. With your alignment set and no slope to worry about, your success or failure on each putt is going to come down to whether or not you can make a good stroke. Hit several putts and watch the results carefully. Did you miss any to the left? Did you make them all? Don’t worry too much if you miss one or two to the left along the way, as nobody is perfect on the greens. However, if the ball seems to be heading left more often than not, you likely have a problem.

Three Common Causes

Three Common Causes

With the groundwork laid for this topic, we are now ready to talk about some of the causes of pulled putts. Specifically, we are going to highlight three common issues that lead many golfers to pull their putts left of the target time after time. As you read through this list, think about your own putting stroke and try to determine whether or not these are problems which plague your game on the greens.

  • Too much right-hand action. This is an extremely common mistake, and one of the most likely reasons to lead to a pulled putt. When making a putting stroke, the idea is to use your shoulders to move the club back and through, while your hands and wrists simply go along for the ride. When executed properly, the putting stroke is extremely simple, and you’ll be able to roll the ball on the desired line with nice consistency. However, if you allow your hands to get involved during the stroke, things can go wrong. In this case, we are talking about the right hand doing too much as the putter swings forward. When you let your right hand become active in the forward stroke, you’ll be likely to close the face of the putter – and the ball will miss to the left.
  • Head moving early. This is another very common mistake, and one you have no doubt heard of before at some point along the way. Most golfers learn very early in their golf career that you are supposed to keep your head down and still while hitting shots. That is true for full shots and it is just as true when you are putting. As the putter swings through the ball and toward the hole, be sure to keep your head as still as possible. Also, focus your eyes on a spot on top of the ball and don’t look away until the ball leaves the putter face. When your head does move early, it’s almost certain that your shoulders are going to come up away from the ball as well. That means your arms will move by extension, and the club will be pulled off the line. Unless you make some sort of quick correction with your hands – which is very difficult to do – the putter face will be closed, and the ball will again miss left. No matter what kind of shot you happen to be hitting, learning how to keep your head still is one of the most important skills you can master in this game.
  • Poor ball position. You probably think about ball position fairly often when you are hitting full shots, but it is just as important when on the greens. You need to place the ball at the right point in your stance, so you can make contact when the face of the putter is square to the target line. If the ball is too far back in your stance, it’s likely that the face will be open when you make contact. And, if the ball is too far forward, there is a good chance the face will be closed, and the ball will go left. Obviously, if you are currently pulling a lot of your putts, you’ll want to check on your ball position to make sure it isn’t too far forward in your stance. By moving the ball back even just an inch or two, you might be able to straighten things out and find the right line once again.

The issues that can lead to pulled putts aren’t particularly complicated. With that said, they may take some time to fix, as corrections in this game don’t tend to come easy. In the next section, we’ll address some of the cures you can look to for relief as you work toward making more putts in upcoming rounds.

Three Valuable Cures

Three Valuable Cures

It’s finally time to talk about some of the ways you may be able to fix your habit of pulling putts to the left. Of course, it should go without saying that you’ll want to practice these tips plenty on the putting green before getting back out on the links.

  • Head still until the putter stops. This is a great tip, in large part because it is so simple. As mentioned in the previous section, it is possible that your pulled putts are created by early head movement. If you suspect head movement is to blame for your struggles, this tip is exactly what you need to hear. During your next practice session, try to keep your head still and your eyes down until the putter stops moving. Rather than looking up as soon as you hit the ball, which could result in you looking up a little early, stay down a little longer to play it safe. Keep your head still until the putter swings forward through the ball and comes to a stop, and then feel free to look up and see how the ball is rolling. If you can get into this habit on the practice green, it should be fairly easy to carry it over onto the course.
  • Left-hand-only putts. If it is excessive right-hand action that is giving you trouble on the greens, try this drill to sort things out. Set up on the practice green with a few balls just a few feet from a hole. Rather than hitting the putts with both hands on the club, take your right hand off the putter and try to roll the ball toward the cup with just your left hand. Obviously, your right hand can’t take over the stroke if it isn’t even on the putter in the first place. Using just your left hand is going to force you to move the putter primarily with your shoulders, which is exactly what you should be doing in the first place. Once you’ve hit a few putts with only your left hand, add your right hand to the grip and hit a few putts with both hands on the club. As you hit these putts, remember what you learned from your one-handed practice and keep your right hand out of the action as much as possible.
  • Through the gate. This last drill is a popular one among many golfers, and it is good for the overall health of your stroke. If you can make it through this drill cleanly, you can feel good about the mechanics you are using on the greens. The setup is very simple – you’ll just need your putter, a few golf balls, and two tees. You will also need to be at the practice green with a nice flat spot to hit some putts. To get started, place a ball down on the ground and take your address position as usual. Before hitting the putt, however, place the two tees into the green, one just outside the toe of the putter, and one just inside the heel. You will now have formed a ‘gate’, and it is your job to swing the putter through this gate over and over. If you make it through without touching one of the tees, you are good to go. If you hit one of the two tees, however, you’ll want to keep working on the path of your stroke.

You shouldn’t expect your problems with pulled putts to just go away on their own. If you are going to make progress on this point, you need to practice. We hope the three tips above will point you in the right direction as you get down to work on improving your putting.

The Mind Game

The Mind Game

It’s going to take some work to straighten out your physical technique on the greens, but you should be able to get there with some consistent practice. However, even once you’ve climbed over the physical hurdle, you’ll still need to work out the mental side of the equation. It’s likely that you’ll have pretty low confidence on the greens when you head back out for your next round, since you’ve been dealing with the pulls for a while. To finally get better results and start making your fair share of putts, you are going to have to get over the mental scars you may have accumulated.

There is really only one solution to this problem – practice, and plenty of it. It’s on the practice green where you will build up your confidence, as you can hopefully see putt after putt drop into the cup. If you are able to see enough success in practice, you’ll gradually build up positive feelings that will hopefully carry over onto the course. You still may have a little bit of doubt in the back of your mind when you get ready for an important putt during a round, but you can look back on your practice in those moments to find the confidence you need.

It’s no fun to consistently pull your putts to the left of the hole. Fortunately, you should be able to get back on track if you are willing to put in some work on the practice green. We hope the information offered in this article will help you straighten things out and start to find the target line once again. You aren’t going to be able to reach your goals in this game if you fail to make putts, so move this matter to the top of your golf priority list. Good luck!

If you've started to notice that when you're missing putts you're generally missing them on the left-hand side, as a pulled putt would go left for the right-handed golfer, here’s a couple of things for you to consider also. Maybe your golf ball position is setting up too far forward in your stance. Therefore, as the clubhead comes towards the ball, it starts to rotate and to close down. So having the ball too far forward is a problem. I’d encourage you to position it just slightly ahead of center, almost like a 6-iron within your stance. Then we've got to make sure that you're not too close to the ball. Anytime you get too close to the ball when you're putting, that would often make the hands rotate around your front leg causing some pulled putt there so we've make sure that's not happening.

The other major fact that causes some pulled putt is a deceleration in your stroke. Decelerating as you're coming into the golf ball is a massive factor. The toe would overtake the heel and the ball would go left off a closed face. The major problem with decelerating is that your back swing is probably too long, creating too much power and then you have to slow down as you hit the putt because you're scared of whacking it across the other side of the green. So if you have a very long back swing that then decelerates as you hit the ball, you'd often see the pull had closed over.

So a little exercise for you to practice here. I’ve got the golf ball I’m going to hit and two marker golf balls. This on the back swing is going to limit my back swing so I can hit it. And then this one and the follow through is going to encourage me to actually push beyond that ball so I’ll make sure my back swing is shorter and my follow through is longer. If you can practice this exercise just at home -- you don’t need to actually hit golf balls towards the targets or into a hole but just feel like you make a one-third back swing and a two-thirds follow through to encourage a nice accelerating stroke rather than hitting that one and then decelerating before you get to that one. That would be major reason why you might be pulling putts. Improve that aspect of your game. Improve on that drill and hopefully you'll hold more of those putts.