5 fundamental putting tips that will lower your scores

Many article on golf putting tips are just that. A couple of putting tips that you can take out next time you play, tinker and hope for the best. This article is different. I’ve packed this post with putting tips that will be with you for the rest of your golfing life.

Many golf putting tips are quick fixes, however in this post we will cover golf putting tips that will help you develop your putting over time.

Each putting tip starts from the basics. What a beginner needs to know, but then it progresses to a level of understanding and detail that will serve an elite player or golf coach just as well.

There is a lot to take in, so please take away what you need for now. Save this link, and revisit it after a few practice sessions to keep progressing your putting skill.

Putting tip 1 – The perfect impact for golf putts

I did warn you we’re starting basic, so stay with me. We’re aiming to get the ball from a point on or just off the green into the hole. If it doesn’t end up in the hole, we want it to finish as close as possible.

To do this our golf putting swing needs to achieve the following:

  1. Start the golf ball as close as possible to our intended target line.
  2. Control and adapt the velocity the golf ball leaves the putter face.
  3. Launch the golf ball off the putter face between 1-4 degrees upwards.
  4. Be able to repeat and functionally adapt in pressure situations.

As much as this is obvious, please keep these in mind when making any decisions regarding how to improve your putting. If you’re buying a new putter, changing your putting technique, or optimising your practice. Be clear which of the above you are targeting.

How do you achieve the above and become epic at golf putting? Here is a break down.

Putting tip 2 – Arrowing your golf putts on line

golf putting tips arrow straight

To provide more depth on how to start your putts on line, here are some details for you golfing nerds.

The putter face at impact has five times more effect on start direction, than swing path. Your aim is to build a putting stroke that can consistently start the ball within 0.5 of a degree from your intended target line.

A golf ball that starts 1 degree off it’s target line will be 2.06 inches (5.23cm) wide of it’s target by the time it reaches 10 feet (3 meters). It will hit the right or left lip of the hole. Make that a 2 degree error in start direction, and you’ve guessed it. Your ball will be over 4 inches off target at 10 feet.

Therefore, it is impossible to consistently hole putts from inside 10 feet if you cannot achieve this simple aim.

When building a putting stroke and practicing your putting. A key goal is to minimise the variability of your putter face at impact. However, please remember a technically sound putting stroke is useless, if you’re pointing in the wrong direction. This golf putting drill works on both alignment and putter face at impact.

Another, simple approach is to place an alignment stick or club down on the putting green each time you practice. This isn’t quite as accurate as the drill above, but it ensure your don’t go too far off track.

golf putting tips alignment stick used to check aim
A simple, but effective way to ensure you have sound putter face aim.

One caveat with aim and alignment. Research has shown elite players don’t all aim at their target. Some aim slightly left or right however, they do this subconsciously, and consistently. They may have developed this off-centre aim as a way to correct for a club face that is consistently returned slightly open or closed.

Their end result – the golf ball starts almost exactly on their intended target line. If you’re not a tour player just yet, and you’re aiming to improve your putting mechanics I would always advise starting with a great aim.

If you are searching a more advanced way to check up on your club face aim and start direction, a pro I work with loves this tool, and uses it every week just to keep his basics in check.

Golf putting tip 3 – Controlling your putter face, by not controlling it

After your alignment is in order, the next biggest factor in affecting club face at impact is your grip. A great putting grip returns your club face squarely without a thought or any conscious control.

A common error is for golfers to slightly tweak their long game grip to putt with. This makes consistently squaring up your putter face at impact about as easy as balancing a full Tour Bag on a Tee Peg.

If you want to test how effective your current putting grip is for consistently returning your club face squarely try the following drill:

  1. Take your normal set up and then remove your right (trail) hand.
  2. With your left (lead) hand kept on the putter, flex and extend your wrist.
  3. Check how much your club face rotates open and closed with this movement.
  4. Repeat this, but now just with your right (trail) hand.

If you have a poor grip, the club face will viciously swing open and closed, with only small amounts of wrist movement.

A great putting grip creates a relationship between your hands and the club where any wrist flexion/extension has a minimal affect on face angle.

There are truly an infinite number of ways to build a great putting grip. I would suggest you find a great pro to work with to help you. However, if you’re in need of help now, use the following guide I’ve put together for you.

The most important aspect is creating a grip where the handle of the grip runs up through your wrist joint in both hands.

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.

Once you have you’re snazzy new grip in place, repeat the drill above and see effect. You will notice how the same wrist action now has minimal impact on putter face rotation.

This is genuinely one of the closest ways you can get to cheating in golf – enjoy.

Golf putting tip 4 – Perfecting the launch of your putts

If you can start the ball on your intended line then you will be better at putting than most golfers you will ever come across.

The next key in becoming great is controlling the distance your putts go. This is down the golf ball’s launch velocity and launch angle (yes, we do need  a tiny bit of loft to get our putts rolling).

To begin with, ensure you are hitting your putts out the centre of a squarely aligned face. Check the lie of your putter at set up with the following little trick.

Take your set up (as naturally as you can). Then ask a friend to slide a score card/piece of card under each end of your putter head. There should be an even gap under the toe and heel of your putter, as shown below.

golf putting tips putter lie angle
If you push the card snugly under each side when you are set up, this should be the result.

If the putter isn’t sat properly, one piece of card will be much further in that the other. If your putter isn’t sat properly you’re making life quite tough for yourself. An incorrect putter lie angle causes two issue for your impact and putting performance:

  1. It makes it tricky for the golf ball to strike the centre of the putter face at the correct height on the putter face. This leads to poor energy transfer between club and ball.
  2. Putters all have a small amount of loft (1-5 degrees). If your putter is sat at an angle to the ground this loft effectively makes the club face point left or right.

If you’ve failed the test above, there at two considerations. Firstly, your set up needs to be altered. This could mean changing your, knee/hip flex, spine flexion, or how your arms are hanging/gripping the putter. Ideally go find a great pro and invest in a lesson, but feel free to tinker with the points above in a mirror to learn how each affects your putter lie angle.

The second alternative, if you are happy with your mechanics is to get your putter correctly fitted for you. This will mean changing the putter length and possibly the lie angle. Orrr just buy a new one…your choice 😉

Golf putting tip 4.5 – Do your putts actually roll?

If you have all of the above in place then you will be earning a fortune on the  putting green, and will be the envy of all your golfing friends on the course. The next set is to assess the launch angle of your putts.

As I mentioned earlier, we want the golf ball to be launched very slightly upwards (0.5 – 4 degrees). There are two factors that affect the launch angle.

  1. The loft on the putter at impact (called the dynamic loft).
  2. How much your putter head is moving upwards or downwards through impact.

Most putters a designed with 3-4 degrees of loft on them. However to get the golf ball rolling as quickly as possible most tour pro only have 1-2 degrees of loft at impact (dynamic loft). This is done by keeping their hands very slightly ahead of the putter head at impact, which de-lofts the putter.

They combine this small amount of loft with a slightly upward strike on the golf ball. I lecture in biomechanics, so I’m being careful with my wording here… but this type of impact will not necessarily ‘impart topspin’. However, it will get the ball launched in a way that minimises unwanted backspin, and gets the ball rolling as efficiently as possible.

See the video below for what actually happens to a golf ball on a well struck putt. Please note this was taken on a very wet golf course in the U.K. in February. But this motion is still present to some degree in tour spec greens.

No putts ever roll straight from the putter face.

There are a few factors that affect how much of an upward or downward strike you produce. But the basics for achieving a slightly upward strike are – to have the ball forward of centre in your stance, and to be consistent with your release (wrist action). You may also wish to check other factors, such as weight distribution at set up.

Golf putting tip 5 – Building a putting stroke that is awesome

Well you’ve made it. These four putting tips hands down will make you awesome. You now just need to put all of the above together in one movement that can be adapted to hit 3, 15 and 50 feet putts. It also needs to be repeatable under pressure…

The good news for you is this – If you achieve the launch conditions discussed in points one to four, then the golf ball doesn’t care one bit what your stroke looks like. You could do a dance and hit the golf ball with a broom and it will still go in the hole.

Instead of telling you exactly how change every aspect of your stroke, I’m going to let you choose how to refine your putting stroke to achieve the points discussed in this article. This self-discovery gives you great flexibility in how you build your own awesome putting stroke. If you would like some great ideas on how to practice your putting check out this article.

In the coming weeks I will produce an article looking at two different schools of thought around putting mechanics, and what they mean for your game. If you don’t want to miss it, and you would like these weekly post sent straight to your email, please come join. It makes me smile every time I see a new golfer  has come to join.

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Many thanks and happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider