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Putting Tips to Lower Your Scores

In this article, we’ll cover my top putting tips to help you lower your scores. After 15 years of coaching putting to amateurs and professionals, I’m pretty confident the tips below are the quickest ways to start holing more putts.

Some are easier to implement than others, but if you want to improve your putting they are well worth the effort.


1. Master a great putting grip

The biggest cause of missed putts is an open or closed putter at impact. The biggest factor controlling where your putter points is…your grip.

Many golfers don’t use a proper putting grip, instead, they just tweak their normal grip. However, holding the putting in the correct way is the fastest way to become a better putter. Click the link above for a full guide on building a great putting grip, or follow the quick how-to guide below.

A great putting grip has the handle of the grip runs up through your wrist joint in both hands (see below). This means if / when your wrists flick the putter face keeps aiming at the hole – this is critical for becoming a consistent putter.

By holding the putter in this way club face rotates far less with any wrist flexion/extension.
By holding the putter in this way club face rotates far less, with the same amount of wrist flexion/extension. Finish grip is bottom right, see how well the forearms are aligned.
Once you have your left hand in place, the right mirrors it. Note how both thumbs point down to the club face. This grip, with an extended left finger is called the vardon reverse overlap.
Once you have your left hand in place, your right palm faces your left and sits slightly below. Again, the grip should run through your lifeline on your right hand. Note how both thumbs point down to the club face. The extended left finger is optional for more pressure to stop unwanted wrist action.

If you struggle with a conventional putting grip then you may wish to consider left-hand low putting.

2. Think swing length for distance control

Many golfers try to ‘hit’ long putts and often decelerate over short putts. The result is poor distance control for long putts and too many missed short putts. The answer is to think about your ideal swing length for each putt.

Short putts need a short backswing and through-swing, longer putts need a longer swing back and through. This approach allows you to keep your tempo/acceleration consistent across all putts.

Putts should never felt ‘hit’, instead, you are looking for a smooth acceleration of the putter towards your target. Check out the video below for a great putting drill.

An extra nugget for you – make a practice swing before each putt and make sure you practice the ideal swing length. I see far too many golfers make the same length practice swing when they have a 2 or 20-foot putt.

3. Quiet wrists = more holed putts

The golf ball only cares about impact and how it is struck. When your wrists flick they cause all manner of problems for you. Flicking wrists alter the follow at impact:

  • Putter loft
  • Where the face points
  • Club head speed

These factors are crucial for dictating where your putts start and how far they travel. As a result flicking your wrists will make you a very inconsistent putter. The answer is to keep your wrists angle consistent throughout your putting stroke.

The video below gives you a simple way to practice this concept. Use this drill for 2-3 minutes before you play and you will quickly be able to take this feeling onto the golf course.

You can also try out a ‘push drill’ – setup a 2 foot putt. Place your putter head directly behind the ball, then without making a backswing push your ball into the hole. This simple practice will quickly give you the feeling of solid wrists when putting.

4. Head still and listen

Putting is the one area of the game where keeping your head still is great advice. As soon as your head lifts your shoulders change where they are pointing and so will your putter.

The answer is to keep your head still when you putt and listen for the sound of the ball dropping into the hole. To practice choose a simple 3-foot putt and practice hitting putts without lifting your head, listen for the sound of the ball dropping into the hole.

Yes, I’m aware not every putt will go in, but this simple approach will lead to you holing more putts than you do normally.

5. Create a pendulum putting stroke

There is a reason great golfers make putting look so easy, it is because great putting strokes have few moving parts. Once you have a great grip and setup you can think of your arms and the putter swinging like a pendulum.

Take a look at the screen shots below. Noice that the arms, hands and putter all satay constant through the swing. The key movement comes from rotating around your spine.

putting technique and stroke mechanics

To practice this movement setup ready to putt, then remove the putter from your hands. Place your palms together and rock like a pendulum. Removing the putter from your hands allows you to focus on making the right body movement.

Next, place the putter back in your hands and repeat the movement. This simple tip will quickly help you understand what a great putting stroke should feel like.

6. Think start line for breaking putts

It is well known that amateur golfers miss ~80% of breaking putts on the low side. The main reason for this is aiming incorrectly. Many golfers visualise a trace on the greens, like the red line below, but then they aim at the apex of the break.

putting tips understanding break line of putt

This is actually incorrect and will lead to you missing all putts low. Instead, you need to think about the true start line for your golf ball (black arrow above).

The true start direction is often 30% further left/right of the hole compared to the apex. The image above should help you understand the difference between aiming at the apex and aiming at the ideal start direction.

You can also use the same setup above, with two tees in front of the golf hole. This little trick helps your brain understand where the golf ball will be approaching the hole.

No wonder most amateurs miss low. For more on green reading check out this article for more on how to read greens.

7. Strike up on your putts

Putting greens may look immaculate and flat, but the golf ball actually sits down in the short grass (3-5mm). If you don’t believe me have a quick watch of the video clip below.

To get the ball up and rolling putter have 3-5º of loft but you also need to hit slightly up on your putts.

This might sound complicated, but as long as you position your ball towards your front foot when putting you will achieve this automatically. The putter will reach it’s low point right under your sternum, then start slowly moving upwards.

Positioning your golf ball 1-2″ forward of centre is ideal for a great strike and putts that will roll on any surface.

putting tips ball position, place your ball two inches ahead of your sternum.

8. Pace AND line

When most golfers miss a putt they often think they’ve chosen the wrong line, however most of the time the putt would have gone in if the pace matched the line.

When you’re reading a putt don’t look for ‘the perfect line’. Instead think of all the varying lines and paces you could choose and select the one that you feel most conformable with.

The video below gives you a great putting practice game you can play to practice breaking putts. Trying to complete this game with slow, normal and firm pace putts will gives you great confidence.

You will quickly find out which pace best suits your putting. After many, many hours of practice I know I hole most putts when I choose a line that requires normal to firm pace.

Take away message – think pace and line when reading putts.

9. Pick a small spot for better aim & focus

Aiming at the hole leave a large margin for error, particularly on putts inside 10-feet. When you have putts inside 10-feet pick a small mark or blade of grass at the back of the hole.

The smaller target gives you better focus and aim, aiming for the back of the hole encourages you to hit a more positive putt.

Really simple, but really effective.

10. Build a putting technique that you LOVE

Just like the full swing there is no one perfect putting technique. However, there are many principles that will help you build a great putting stroke. Once you’ve mastered the tips in this article I urge you to start building a great putting stroke that you love.

The link above will help you decide if you want to putt on an arc, square-to-square or left hand below right. The key is to build a putting stroke that has sound principles and you love.

11. Use putting drills to target your weaknesses

There is no getting away from the fact that great practice is the key to improving at almost anything in golf. However, few golfers know how to practice their putting, or which drills to use.

This link will take you to an article on putting drills, I’ve curated my top 5 putting drills and explained when to use each one. The last putting tip in this list is to have a quick read and grab a new putting drill designed to target your weakness.

The long term solution to becoming a great putter is finding a fun and effective way to practice.

Putting tips summary

There we have a swift run through of putting tips to help you hole more putts. As a recap:

  1. Master a great putting grip
  2. Think swing length for distance control
  3. Quiet wrists = more holed putts
  4. Head still and listen
  5. Create a pendulum putting stroke
  6. Think start line for breaking putts
  7. Strike up on your putts
  8. Pace AND line
  9. Pick a small spot for better aim & focus
  10. Build a putting technique that you LOVE
  11. Use putting drills to target your weaknesses

If you want more info on how to improve your putting you may want to check out this article on ‘how to putt like a god‘. Also, if you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to receive a free weekly article each Monday, sign up for the Golf Insider weekly post.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider

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Will Shaw, PhD, MSc, PGA Pro

Will is a PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. He spent 10 years lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds in Biomechanics and Motor Control before becoming the Head of Golf for the University of Exeter. He currently runs Golf Insider UK, Sport Science Insider around wider consulting and academic roles in sport performance and motor control.

3 thoughts on “Putting Tips to Lower Your Scores”

  1. Eye over the ball, closeness to the ball, true pendulum motion, radius of the putter pendulum , the stil head concept, In bee park rotates her head with every putt, and she is in the hall of fame! Putting theories drive me nuts as a former math and science teacher, thanks for the articles.


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