How to Improve Your Putting
When I talk with fellow golfers about Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, the conversation usually revolves around how far or straight they hit a golf ball. I would not argue that Jack and Tiger are phenomenal ball strikers; what sticks out in my mind when I watch them play is how well they putt. They have a unique ability to sink pressure putts. Recently Tiger made a 25-footer on the 72nd hole to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Who can forget the Putt Jack made on the 17th hole at Augusta National in 1986, when he won his 6th green jacket at the age of 46? If Jack and Tiger were just average putters, then I would highly doubt they would be in those “best players of all time” conversations.
The actual grip on your putter is very different than the one on your irons or woods. The flat or “paddle” style putter grip is flat in the front and rounded in the back. The change in grip requires you to hold the putter differently than any other club in your bag. I suggest using a “classic grip” that will help you minimize the wrist action in your stroke. Simply bend over from your waist with your arms hanging down and face your palms to the sides of the putter grip. When you grip the putter, make sure both thumbs are on the paddle of the grip and the tension in your hands is light. The picture to the right is a good example of a “classic” putter grip.
Setting up to the ball perfectly will increase your chances of producing a nice, smooth putting stroke. You want to bend from the waist until your arms are hanging freely from your shoulders. Next, align your head so your eyes are lined up directly over the ball. Lastly, make sure you have a narrow stance and a slight bend in your knees. The most important fundamental in setting up is to make sure you are comfortable. It is acceptable to make a few minor modifications to ensure that you feel comfortable when you are in your stance.
I teach a stroke that has very little wrist movement---the power is generated mainly from the shoulders and arms. However, if you already are an accomplished putter who putts with all wrists, then I certainly wouldn’t recommend you change your stroke. The best way to feel the stroke I teach is to use a drill that doesn’t require the use of a putter. Simply, get into your putting stance, point your fingers to the floor, and put your hands together with your palms facing each other. Now, make a stroke using your shoulders and arms, but try not to move your wrists. A good visual aid is to picture a mother rocking her child back and forth. Practice this drill without your putter a few times, and then do the same drill holding your putter. You will soon have the feeling of a perfect putting stroke.
In order to perfect the mechanics of the putting stroke, you must practice. I suggest spending some time on the practice putting green before you tee off for your next round. With a little practice and the correct technique, you will hole more putts and shoot lower scores. Thank you for reading this month’s tip. I look forward to seeing you on the practice putting green at Gorham Country Club. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 839-3490 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a lesson.