You've hit your best drive of the day, and you come to your ball and find that you have 150yds. to the middle of the green. You hit your approach shot to 10ft. from the hole. Then you pull your putter and walk up to the green relishing the prospects to make birdie, certainly no worst than par. You survey the green, take a good look at the hole, and putt. Disaster! You jerk the putt left and the ball winds up six feet past the hole, leaving you a difficult putt coming back. You work up your par putt, make your stroke, but this time you the putt short and right. You've just turned a birdie chance into a bogey. Welcome to the club of frustrated golfers.
Good Putting is Essential
All of us who play this merciless game, sooner or later, have to face the fact, that if you can't putt, you can't be a good player. The overriding objecyive of the game is to get the ball into the hole in the fewest strokes possible,and unless you can putt you won't do it. Most amateurs dream of hitting 300yd. frives, and hitting 18 greens, but that will do them no good if they 10 three putts. Pros know, and appreciate, how important putting is to scoring, so they make putting a large part of their learning and practice regiment.Amateurs as a rule spend either no time or little time practicing putting. They spend their time on the range beating balls. It's a shame they take that approach because if they would spend some of that time on putting they could become really good at it. You don't have to be big and strong with a huge amount of athletic ability to be really good at putting. All that is required is a good technique, and some focused practice. How to build that process, and the elements that make it up, will be discussed here.
Any good builder, when building a house, will start with a plan, and the first element of that plan will be the foundation. The foundation in our plan is the set up. A good set up will always be our strongest ally in building any golf swing,and the putting stroke is really another golf swing. This is important to our endeavor because the game of golf always obeys the laws of physics and geometry. Therefore, a good set up allows us to develop a dependable , repeatable,procedure, and serves as a reference point in the detection of our errors.The set up is composed of a very few important elements, but once constructed, needs to be kept intact, except on those occassions when slight adjustments are needed.
The Set Up
In assembling the set up, and set up procedure, just remember that it is extremely important that you feel comfortable standing over the ball, and that you you align yourself so that you get an accurate view if the target line. To achieve a good set up, first align the putter so that the face looks directly down the target line, and is square to it. Next, align your body so that it is parallel to the target line.Then, distribute your weight evenyl over the balls of your feet, which are shoulder width apart, so that you achieve balance, Ball position should be somewhere between your forward heel to slightly ahead of the middle of your stance( what ever is comfortable to you). Your eyes should be either ditectly over the target line, and behind the ball, or slighly inside the line, but never outside it;this is veryimportant to remember because it will give a false impression of the location of the target line.Having the eyes outside the target line is the root source of the pulled putt, caused by an outside to inside stroke. Last, your arms should hang loosely from the shoulders to promote a pendulum- type strokand keep you relaxed.
There is nothing more important in the game of golf than having a good grip. However, when it comes to putting, you will find all sorts of grips being employed successfully. The reason there are so many different grips is that putting is a very individual skill where comfort and confidence are major determinates of success. Although there are many grips with which people are having success, I recommend that you stay as neutral,and conventional as possible with yours. The most popular grip is the reverse overlap where the putter is held more in the palms than the fingers, palms facing each other. The grip pressure should be as light as possible so that you have you have a feel for the amount of effoet needed to roll the ball at the proper pace for the required distance.
The stroke I like is the pendulum-type stroke. The reason it is called the pendulum-type stroke, rather than a pure pendulum syroke, is that there is a minute amount of wrist cock in it. I believe that for there to be good feel in the stroke , there has to be a small amount os wrist cock. Without some wrist cock, the stroke would be mechanical, and wooden, and completely devoid of feel.
Making a Good Putt
What is a good putt? The best answer to that question I have ever found was given by Dr. Joe Parent in his book Zen Putting.Dr. Parent believes that you can make every putt ,by his definition.He states that "if you rolled the ball on the path you chose, at the pace you wanted, with what you felt was a good stroke, then you made the putt. The ball going into the holr is the definition of holing the putt."Until I found this book and resd it, I had struggled for years with abysmal putting. I highly recommend the book which I'm sure you can purchase on Amazon .com. Read it, you'll be glad you did. Dr. Parent's answer is the best I've found for what constitutes a good putt.His statement has shaped my view of the task of becoming a good putter; start the ball rolling on the path you have chosen, with a good stroke, at the right pace, then let the ball do the rest. It is hard to believe, but it really is that simple. What else can you do?
Putting it Together
Now we return to our primary objective, to become a really good putter. To obtain our best result in this eask we must develop all the individual skills needed to become competent in each area of the job. However, the best thing about this task is that 90% the work can be done without ever leaving home. To master set up , any room with a mirror is ideal. You can practice all you want to and use the morror to monitor your progress. To develop the stroke , simply make a pathway by placing two clubs on the floor a little more than the width of the putter face apart, and practice your pendulum-type stroke. Place a tee in the path that's aimed down the target line and practice aiming the putter face before you begin your active stroke practice. After you have practiced your aim and stroke for a while, find the sweet spot on your putter( you can do this by holding the putter between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand while tapping along the putter face until it swings straight back without twisting or wiggling), and introduce a ball to the drill.Learning good pace is the skill that you will have to go to a practice green to acquire. You need to practice rolling putts dofferebt distances, with the same stroke effort level,by varying tne length of the stroke. Do not use more or less effort on longer or shorter putts simple make your pendulum -type stroke larger or smaller.By performing this exercise you will develop distance control which is the most important factor in three putt avoidance.
Finishing the Task
In conclusion, when you have developed sufficient proficiency in the fundamental skills, you will have already begun to acquire the qualities of a good putter. Youe sense of of direction will be more accurate, your command of stroke and pace will have started to be ingrained,and youe sense of feel will be much better. Now if you will believe that you are a good putter, this should be easy, your confidence will soar, and you will feel very comfortable standing over the ball. However, to complete the job, you will have to learn to read greens so that you can judge speed and break. There is no substitute for a practice green and some practice where this task is concerned. Only experiences in your memory bank is going to help here. I truly believe that if you will follow the advice offered here, and have some fun applying it, you will become a really good putter. Keep a positive attitude, and good luck to you.
You Can Do it Too
That anyone can be a really good putter is really true. If you have an organized approach, and keep your technique simple you can too. You will need to organize the task into a process and have confidence in it. The way you build confidence in your process is through focused practice.