Quick Tips To Improve Your Putting
Golf professional, and Golf Reimagined consultant, Al Lovell, takes us through some quick tips that can shave significant strokes off your score.
Here are some quick tips to help you with your putting. My goal whenever I play is to make my next shot as easy as possible. Whether that means driving my ball in the fairway or hitting an iron shot onto the green, that’s always my objective. When I putt, I want to make my next putt as easy as possible. I’ve played golf with so many people who always say, “I always miss putts from 3-4 feet”. Here’s where the following tips will hopefully help. First, stop leaving yourself 3-4 feet after your first putt. Leave yourself 6-12 inches. Personally, I’m a great six-inch putter, I never miss. The trick is to get yourself there after your first putt, not your second ( or third…).
Try some or all of the ideas below to help your putting.
Putting uses a pendulum swing.
Imagine the windshield wipers on your car, or pushing a child on the swings at the park. They go back and forth at the same speed. This is what good putters do. The momentum (or distance the ball rolls) is obtained only through the length of the swing. No acceleration or deceleration, just a smooth pendulum swing.
Quiet body, hands, and arms.
The shoulders swing the putter. The quieter everything else is will help you learn and have consistent distance on your putts.
The average length for a putter is about 35 inches. I’m a fan of shorter putters so your arms can hang off your shoulders straighter with less bend in the elbows. The straighter everything is, the easier it is to swing with a pendulum motion with the shoulders doing the work. Look at Phil Mickelson as a great example of this.
What’s more important, speed or line?
I’ve never seen a golfer miss their intended line by 10-15 feet, but I’ve seen golfers mess up their distance tremendously. WORK ON YOUR SPEED. Go out on the practice green, and see just how far a pendulum swing with a backswing of 3-4 inches will move the ball. Same for swings of 5-6”, 7-8”, and so on. A good exercise is to have three balls, putt the first one to a random place on the green, then putt the next two and see if you can get them to all stop at the same distance as the first.
If you play a lot of different courses, the greens will have different speeds, and you may not have time to both loosen up and practice your putting. Take three balls and put them at 5, 10, and 15 feet from the hole. Now hit the putts to get a feel for the speed of the greens. Do this from each side of the hole, so in 5 minutes you have practiced uphill, downhill, left to right, and right to left putts and have a feel for the speed. Again, distance is the most important thing for your putts.
Never up, never in.
So what’s the difference between a putt that stops a foot short of the hole vs a putt that stops a foot past the hole. You’re still a foot away, the next putt should be an easy tap-in. Here’s the deal. A putt that rolled a foot past the hole at least HAD A CHANCE TO GO IN. There’s been so many articles and books written as to what is the ideal distance a putt should roll past the hole, I’m not sure what is correct. My advice, get the ball to the hole! If it stops anywhere within 12 inches, the next ones a no-brainer and you’re off to the next hole with no stress.
I really do play by feel, don’t use a lot of practice aids. Believe it or not, I simply like using two sticks or skewers about a foot long and a length of string. Wrap the string around both skewers and then put one about a foot behind where you want to putt from and the other 6-12” past the cup you’re putting to. The string is now about 8-10” in the air. You now have a visual guide for both the path of your putter and the roll of the ball.
If you play nine holes, the maximum putts you should have is 18, and if you play 18 holes you should have a maximum of 36 putts. If you can get your putts at or below this number, your scores should drop as a result. Hopefully, some of the things we’ve discussed will help.