Simple Drills to Improve your Putting
Putting should be a simple game, a calm simple action with a short back and forth motion. It sounds so simple and it should be, but it’s not. Wouldn’t it be good if putting was in fact as simple as it sounds? Well, if you put these drills and instructions into action your putting game will improve and your scores will go down and you’ll be eager to get to the green so you can work with the putter and your new-found confidence.
I’m sure you’ve noticed the stroke a professional makes. It’s so smooth and in sync. This type of stroke eliminates any jerk motions that will lead to bad impact and a whole heap of bad outcomes on your shot.
A good way to learn to be in sync in your stroke is to use what’s known as a metronome. A metronome is any device that produces a sound in a rhythm. A clocks tick is a metronome, so use that. Simply place the clock next to where your taking your shot and practice by swinging to the rhythm of the “tick” “tock” sound. On the “tick” your putter should be at the top of its backswing, and on the “tock”, it should have arrived at the end of your follow through. Slow, rythmical and unhurried.
Now, once you’re used to the rhythm of your putt, simply apply it your shot. Remember the tick tock as you stroke and your putting will improve, trust me!
One handed practice stroke
Some players like to feel confident in their leading hand on a putt, and Tiger Woods often practices with just his right hand to promote familiarity and feel with his lead putting hand. Whatever hand is your lead hand in a stroke, practicing with it will increase your confidence in your putting as it will produce a pure putting stroke.
When doing this with one hand it’s going to feel a little strange to begin with, but as you continue to practice you’ll come to realise its very natural. Practice at lengths, and don’t be scared of applying a little wrist action into it, as it will produce a pure stroke and a true roll of the golf ball. Make sure that you stay tension free and loose as this will produce the best results.
One common characteristic with tour pro’s is they all produce consistent ball striking, which is a product of the centre of the club face, or the sweet spot, hitting the ball. Hitting the ball in the centre of the clubface produces a good roll and a consistent speed. Putts that are hit on the toe or the heel of the putter face will veer offline. So to combat this and to train yourself to hit the ball in the centre every time there is a technique that helps a lot. You should wrap two rubber bands around your blade so that they straddle your putter’s sweet spot. When you feel confident that you can consistently hit the centre of the putter face every time, you can take them off and try to continue it. If you start to feel a change in the contact quality, then it’s time to replace the rubber bands and continue the technique until you become confident again.
The putt stopper
All great putters use a backswing and follow through of the same length. This allows for increased acceleration through the ball and it also helps to control the distance of the shot as well. One very common error I see with players is they swing too far back and then slow down there stroke at impact. This causes inconsistency in distance and accuracy. Always remember to stroke through the ball instead of at it!
Reading the speed of greens
If you try different golf courses regularly you will know that the green speeds change all the time, even if you use the same courses, the speeds can still change with weather conditions etc. It can be really frustrating when you’re not used to the speed of the greens as you know. There’s something very simple that can be done before your stroke that will combat this problem. What you have to do is exaggerate your practice stroke.
So if you’re playing on slow greens you should take a significant step back than your actual shot, and take a practice stroke from there. This will force you to get used to hitting the ball harder than usual for a much longer, powerful stroke. If you’re on a green that is a little faster than normal then you should take a step forward, closer to the hole than your shot. Then you simply go back to your ball for the shot and repeat the same stroke action.
The right line
Let’s assume you have worked out the line the ball should take to get to the hole by looking closely at the humps and borrows on the green. And you have decided that a right-to-left putt is required. Now imagine the line that ball needs to take and note a spot 6 inches from your ball along that line. Now all you need to do is to make sure you strike the ball so that it goes over that spot.
Arms, shoulders and wrists
In a putting stroke, use your arms and shoulders – forget about your wrists, lock them in position. Your body should remain still with no rotation or transfer of weight.
Let’s start with your position for the putt. Now, stand so that your eyes are directly over the line of which you want to hit the ball. To line up perfectly you should hold the putter loosely and directly under your eyes, as you approach the putt let gravity do the work and take it straight down. Now, look down and make sure the putter covers the ball. If it doesn’t then move yourself back or forward until it covers it. The ideal spot for the ball to be is slightly behind the front foot. The hands should also be forward away from the body, and the putter should be in line with the forearm. This position will promote a much smoother roll of the ball on impact.
Your hands and arms should work together and not spread apart. The further your arms and hands are apart the increased chance there is of you using your wrists, which opens up a whole variety of inconsistency. The ideal stroke should consist of just the shoulders and the arms. For the grip, use 3 fingers on each hand and grip the putter lightly. On a scale of 1-10 of grip pressure, 4 would be best. This helps with the feel of the club and shot your taking.
And practice, practice and practice and your putting will improve and your score will improve.