Have you ever stood on the practice green with a putt ahead of you, imagining that you have the whole crowd of the Open Championship watching you?
If you sink it you’ll win and the whole crowd will roar and chant your name?
Then you miss the putt and just stand there looking like an idiot who missed a five-footer on a practice green.
Well, whether you’ve done that or not, you probably need some help with your putting. We all do, you’re not alone.
Putting is arguably the most important part of the golf game, but most amateur golfers tend to never practice their putting bar for 10 minutes before they play a round of golf.
So if you are ready to take the next step in your game and improve your putting, here are some putting drills and tips to get you putting like the top golfers in the world.
Reading Your Putts
It doesn’t matter how good your putting stroke may be; if you can’t read the green properly then you’ll never make any putts. There are many techniques that different people use, but green reading mostly just comes with experience and practice. That being said, there are some tips I can give to help you read those putts to the best of your ability.
Firstly, stand on the lower side of the hole when trying to read your putt, whether it’s behind your ball or behind the hole (in other words, if your putt is downhill, read it from behind the hole; if uphill, read it from behind your ball). This will help you read the green much better as you can get a fuller view of the contours.
Think of it this way: if you’re reading a book, it’s going to be much easier to read if you angle the pages towards your face. The same applies to being on the lower side of the green. After this, it will also help to have a look from either side of the hole, as you will be able to assess the slope of the putt better.
To get a better idea of where to aim, here’s a technique used by Adam Scott, one of the best putters in the world.
Stand roughly half way between your ball and the hole, with your feet somewhere on either side of your initial line. Try and feel the slope of the green with your feet, and then rate that slope on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being flat and 5 being severe.
Next, hold up the number of fingers that you ranked the slope (so if you thought the slope was a 3, hold up 3 fingers) and line them up next to the hole on the side you think the putt will break from. The outside of your fingers is where you should aim your putt.
The Proper Stroke
Once you can read your greens, the next thing to do is get your putting stroke mastered. The ultimate goal in achieving the perfect putting stroke is to get your putter head going straight back and straight forward on the target line.
For one, using a thicker grip on your putter can help minimise the amount that your wrists break and can lead to better consistency in your stroke.
When it comes to the actual technique that you use (i.e. whether you switch your hands or you use the pencil grip like some pros do now), however, it’s all about what makes you feel comfortable. The most important thing is consistency, not necessarily technique when it comes to putting.
There are some things that can improve your consistency. Most importantly, tips to help with your rhythm.
Your putting stroke should always have the same tempo, whether for a 3-foot putt or a 30-foot putt. How long your swing is will determine how far you hit it. For example, a tip from Tiger Woods himself comes to mind. He says that when he putts, he counts to two on his backswing, then one to impact. Basically what this means is that your backswing should take roughly twice as long as your downswing. Practicing your putting while counting in this way will help you improve your tempo and ultimately will lead to better consistency and distance control.
The other main things to remember in your putting stroke are as follows.
Keep your weight evenly balanced between each leg, and lean slightly into the slope if there is one (i.e. more onto your toes if the break is from the right if you are right handed; and vice versa if it is from the left).
Your lower body should be completely quiet, only your shoulders and arms should be swinging.
Finally, keep the putter face pointing along the target line as much as possible throughout the swing.
Routine, routine, routine!
The final and most important piece of advice I can give you is to build a solid routine. It does not matter what it is, but you have to have one. For some players it might be standing behind the ball and visualising the putt with a couple of practice swings before you address your putt, but it does not matter what your personal routine is. If you do it before every putt, whether long or short, it will help you with your consistency and focus when making your putt. I can guarantee this will help any golfer’s putting game!
Finally, some drills that will help you actually reap some benefits from the tips above.
The clock drill: My personal favourite and probably the one that has brought the most improvement to my game. How this works is you place a tee 3-fee, 5-feet, 7-feet, and 9-feet away from the hole. The goal is to make three consecutive putts from each distance, starting at 3-feet and moving to 9. If you manage to do this, and trust me it’s not easy, move to another side of the hole and repeat. Do this for each of the four sides of the hole to get a different read and slope each time, then move to a different hole.
The path drill: This one is for those of you who struggle to make consistent contact with the ball when you putt. What you have to do is place your ball between two tees that are set slightly wider than your club face apart. Then you just putt from there. The beauty of this is that you can do it in conjunction with any other drill, such as the clock drill. It will help you make contact with the ball using the centre of your putter’s face.