Improve your putting at home this winter
Putting is very much a game within a game and can make or break a good score. Work on your putting in the comfort of your own home this winter and come out scoring straight away next season.
There are two main variables in getting the ball into the hole; line and speed. Our technique is mainly responsible for getting the ball started on a good line consistently and our feel and tempo is responsible for the speed. Matched together these form the basis for consistently good putting.
To look at technique and therefore the line of the putt first, we need a stroke with minimal movement to enable the clubface to be square to our target line for as long as possible at impact. To help this, the fewer moving parts the better. Essentially, we are creating some fixed points in the stroke.
The eyes should be aligned over the top of the ball with the upper body more rounded than with the full swing. Allow the arms to fold naturally up the outside of your upper body. The arms, hands and putter should feel underneath your chest.
Drill: Hands on knees
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and bend over and place your palms on top of your knees, thumbs pointing down. Allow your upper body to press its weight down through your arms and hands into the top of your knees. This will draw your upper body and eye line over the ball and into a great putting posture. Many putters are too long and if this posture requires you to grip down the club then that is fine. From here simply let go of your knees and hold a putter and you’ll feel over the top of the ball with the putter and arms more underneath you.
As mentioned earlier, we want to minimise unnecessary movement.
A common fault in putting is too much lower body movement causing inconsistency.
Drill: Steady club
To help keep the lower body quiet simply rest a club against your left leg and make a stroke. If you have too much lower body movement the club will move around or even fall to the floor. Aim to keep the resting club as steady as possible.
With your lower body quiet and your head remaining steady over the top of the ball, we are now left with just your upper body, arms and hands that will be moving with the putter. This will be one coordinated move driven from the upper body with everything working together as one unit. With the core and upper body controlling the stroke, the arms and hands will be passive allowing the putter to swing smoothly.
Drill: Body and arms together.
Start by getting into good posture with the hands on knees drill above. From there, let go of your knees and rotate your palms outwards touching the sides of the hands together. This will rotate your upper arms and elbows in to your side. Now make a simulated stroke by rocking the shoulders down and up. The arms will stay nicely in to your side and be controlled by the rocking of the upper body.
Whatever the length of putt, the tempo should remain the same for the back and through swing. To vary the length of the putt, simply alter the length of the backswing and corresponding through swing. Always try to maintain a one-two tempo. Distance control problems are normally related to either largely increased or decreased to the putter head speed through impact.
Drill: Distance control
To practice distance control at home, putt towards a skirting board from 10-12 feet trying to get the ball is close to the board as possible without hitting it. You will soon find that the tempo of the stroke smoothes to enable maximum feel. Vary the distance and see how many you can get within 12 inches in a row without hitting the board.