In this article I’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to putt like a god. I’ve written a few articles around putting technique and putting practice. Here I’ll tie it all together and add in some extra golden nuggets. I’m hoping this, along with the linking articles, gives you all the ammo you need to become an epic putter.
In theory becoming great at putting is simple, you need to work out the start-line of the putt, start the ball on, or close to, your intended line and have enough pace for it to reach the hole.
Unfortunately, golfers struggle with some or all three of these steps. Let’s knock them out one by one.
We’re going to start by helping you build a great putting stroke, then look at how you can use this stroke to hole as many putts as possible.
How to putt – starting the ball on line
Your putter face at impact will dictate over 80% of the ball’s start direction. If you choose only one thing to master in your putting – choose this one.
How you hold the putter will make a considerable difference to your club face control, it is where most golfers go wrong. Read the article in the link above for a detailed check of your putting grip. Or, for a brief check, have a look at the images below.
Putting posture and set-up
The second important aspect of a putting stroke is your putting posture. Your putting set-up dictates all that follows. As we discussed above, your putting grip will strongly impact your club face at impact. Your putting posture will strongly dictate the arc your putter swings on (swing path).
On Golf Insider I always want to give you the real detailed, rather than a half-baked article. So apologies for the slight ramble and messy image that follows, but I need to break your putting posture down and explain some detail.
The simple stuff (red lines)
Point your putter face towards your intended start-line, and align your body parallel to this line (see below).
Tilt forward from the hips, keeping your spine in ‘good / neutral’ posture. This set up (pictured below) will allow your spine to rotate feely, meaning your can putt with less tension and no additional movements.
The detailed bits (blue / green arrows)
Where should your arms hang? Well this depends on your putting style. The more your arms start outside your shoulder line, the more of a curved arc around your body (in-square-in) your putter will want to travel on.
If you let your hands and arms hang directly under your shoulders (blue arrow) your putter will want to move on a straighter arc back and through.
Both set-ups are perfectly good ways to putt, just ensure your set-up matches how you want your putter to swing back and through.
To check your posture, take your normal set-up with a mirror behind you, then take a peek. Or set up your phone against two tees on the putting green and recreate the image above.
Master your putting stroke in practice
Once you have your technique in place you need to use practice with high levels of feedback to really refine your ability to start each putt on line.
Golf Insider geek: When we practice our putting we have a good idea if the ball starts close to our intended line. But our practice isn’t normally specific enough to tell us to eradicate the last degree of error in start direction. We call this outcome information knowledge of results. As we progress we want our practice to keep giving us precise feedback on our knowledge of results. Once we can’t tell the difference between two outcomes our body will stop learning. The key lesson here is to create practice structures that give you really precise feedback on shot outcome, and your movements. Here is my example drill that I stumbled upon as a teenager
There are two major factors that affect start direction – 1) club face angle and 2) swing path at impact. The tricky piece in becoming a great putter is working out which one is causing your error.
The solution is to practice in a way where you control one of these factors – namely swing path. Below is a very simple putting drill that ensures your putter path stays relatively constant. If your putts don’t start on line with this set-up it will be due to your putter face angle at impact.
This drill is okay to begin with, but when you get serious you’ll benefit from a putting aid to help you really refine your swing path ~ club face relationship. This review features two putting aids I would recommend.
- In – Square – In putters: Check out the Putting Arc
- Square – Square putters: Check out Eyeline putting mirror
Putting mechanics – educate your wrists
Once you have the essentials above in place there is one final piece of the epic putting jigsaw puzzle – It’s in the wrists.
Poor wrist action is what stops many average putters becoming great putters.
Here is why it is important:
A small amount of wrist hinge close to impact severely alters your putter head orientation. A minor wrist flick will cause your club face to close by a degree or two, which is enough to cause you to lip out from 10-feet (all else being perfect).
The second consequence is that the wrist flick will turn your 4-degree putter into a putter with 6/7-degrees of loft. If this occurs you can forget ever having good pace putting.
If you would like to read more about putting impact factors and geek out over putter set up read this article. However, the short story is keep your wrists firm and stable, not rigid, but firm and stable.
The following putting drill will help you do this. It is a drill gifted to me by a fellow golf pro and friend; Ian Taylor. It’s a variation of the claw grip, but I find it’s a great putting drill for letting you feel how much your wrists flex during your putting stroke.
That drill concludes how to start your putts on line. Follow these steps above and you will really refine your putting strike, accuracy and lower your putting average.
Let’s now move onto pace control.
How to putt – controlling pace
In this second part we need to dive into how to control the pace of your putts. If you are getting into golf, or on your way down to a 10-handicap use the video below.
Use the length of your backswing and through-swing to control your pace. For short putts make a short swing back and through. Longer putts, make a longer swing back and through. Check out the video above for a simple way to practice this.
How to putt – controlling pace for advanced golfers
If you are already proficient with the drill above then I need to give you some extra, and quite important detail.
Accelerate your hands and putter head through impact
This is such an important factor in moving from being a good putter to becoming great putter. However, I rarely feel the rationale is explained well. Here we go:
If your hands begin to decelerate towards impact you’ll notice your putter head will want to carry on. Something called conservation of momentum.
Golf Insider geek: At a basic level we model the golfer’s arms and putter head as two freely moving bodies, each with a centre of mass. As the arms slow, the putter head will continue at the same velocity as there are minimal forces to slow it down. This creates a new joint moment in the wrists, which causes a change in wrist angle – the left wrist flexes / flicks.
Decelerating into impact causes your left wrist to flex slightly through impact. Albeit slight, you now know, from the previous section, that this small wrist hinge creates a sizeable change in putter face angle and putter face loft.
The lesson here is to be positive through impact. It’s far better to have a slightly shorter backswing and accelerate through impact than the opposite. This is also why you will hole so many more short putts when you fire them at the back of the hole.
A word of caution – this takes a lot of positive putting practice to truly embed as an approach. It won’t magically happen as you tell your body to ‘hit positive putts’ over your next sliding 3-footer. Instead, take some time to play the pace-putting drill (round the clock) that is disused at the end of this article.
How to putt like a god – dead weight putting is not the answer
I can’t wait to write this section, as I know it will cause controversy. So, this is only my humble opinion, but here is why I don’t feel dead weight putting is the answer.
There is a strong school of thought that says – if you get the ball rolling at minimal speed towards the hole, the hole is essentially bigger. The reasoning is that a golf ball travelling with less speed will fall in the edge of the hole, compared to a ball with more speed that will lip out.
This is 100% true and undeniably, solid physics, but we are unfortunately all human.
Humans have inherent variability within our movement. If you ask a human to apply 10 Newtons of force to a button this will be the results:
You get the picture. This variability is even present in highly skilled athletes, the level of precision just increases.
My issue is when a human attempts dead weight putting. The obvious result is many putts are left short. I’m quite certain that 100% of putts that finish short of the hole don’t go in.
There are a few other advantages with firmer pace putting regarding how much a putt will break, but let’s leave it there for now.
If you are an imperfect human, like me. I would advise positive pace putting, rather than dead weight putting.
Putting drills for pace control
This following article will give you some more detail on how to practice your pace control. If you regularly play this skills games with all three variations of speed you will see your putting conversion inside 10-feet really improve. I love playing this game, so I hope you find it of use.
How to putt – Summary & future
Hopefully this article gives you some great resources and ideas to help you putt like a god. You’ve still got to put the work in, but this approach should accelerate your progress.
Once you’ve mastered all of the above you’ll need to putt well under pressure. This last putting article link will help you with that step.
If you’ve found this article of use, please let me know. Also, I always appreciate a share using one of the social buttons.
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Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider