Putting may be the most important part of the game and yet it is probably the least practiced. If you consider that a vanilla round of golf on a par 72 golf course consists of 18 tee shots, 18 fairway shots and 36 putts, the easiest way to reduce that score would be to take less than two putts per green. As the old maxim says, “a two-inch putt counts the same as a 300-yard drive."
There are many varying techniques used in putting, but the most important rule is that your eyes are over the ball. After that, the primary things I look for are body stability and consistency in the routine as you putt the ball. Grips, stances, putter variables (blade putter, mallet putter, belly putter, etc.) contribute to the success or failure of the stroke, but are not primary in my consideration.
To check for the correct ball position, take up your putting stance. Without moving, hold the club aside and drop a ball from in between your eyes. Note where the ball hits the ground, place the ball there and set up. You may move a little so that the ball is closer to the hole than your eyes but keep it below the eye line.
Stability over the putt can be achieved by practice. Set up a video camera and watch yourself hit around 20 putts of varying lengths. If you see anything other than shoulders or arms moving, you will not be capable of producing a consistent putting stroke.
Consistency in your routine takes a little more work but is also very important. Once you feel that you are mechanically sound in the stroke, develop a routine that you can follow for every putt. That way, the physical act of hitting the putt is just the final move in a sequence of events and not a life-changing event all by itself.
If you watch the tour players on television, you will notice that they all have a routine and it seldom changes. Tiger Woods’ father once told a reporter that Tiger’s routine was so consistent that he could turn his back on Tiger as he approached a putt and snap his fingers at the moment of contact. He then proved his theory by doing that on Tiger’s next putt.
For more help with your putting, contact your local PGA professional.
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.