The average golfer could easily make up 10 strokes a ROUND by putting properly. This one point makes proper putting perhaps the most important part of any player's game. And since most of us are not able to get onto the links anyway because of the winter weather, putting is something you can practice at home.
There's an old adage that the game of golf should be learned from the green back to the tee. That means putting, chipping, fairway shots, and THEN drives. Remember, most shots in a round are from around the green or on the green itself. It's not uncommon for some players to take as many (and often more) shots while on the green as they did to get to the green. Putting is paramount to a solid game.
The average golfer's tendency, when putting, is to use too much of their wrists and arms, thus breaking down their wrists through the putt. This is wrong and is the main culprit for poor putting. Do not break your wrists when putting! Why? Because as soon as you do, you lose control. That wobbly wrist action is transmitted down to the putter face and the ball will go just about anywhere when contact is made. Anywhere except where you want to go, that is.
To become a great putter, the perfect combination of shoulders and arms should be used throughout the entire putt. Any wrist action involved is through the motion of the weight of the putter. In other words, it's a natural motion, not a break.
During your putt, concentrate on your shoulders. On the backswing, your left shoulder naturally moves down and your right shoulder naturally moves up, like a pendulum. When you focus on your shoulders as if they were a clock works, your backswing becomes fluid. Your left wrist should stay nice and firm throughout this motion.
In order to set up the putting grip, first place the grip in the palm of your left hand, and your entire hand around the grip. Place your right hand underneath your left, in a similar palm grip. Now, overlap your right hand with your left index finger. Your palms should be opposite to one another, for a nice locked-in feeling. When setting up to address the ball, make sure your eyes are over the ball, specifically your left eye (if you are a right hand golfer).
Bend your knees slightly, and hang your arms over the ball.
Shift your weight slightly forward on your left foot, favoring the left side of your body. Your hands should also be slightly forward in your stance.
Before making your stroke, make sure your arms, shoulders, knees and feet are all parallel with your target line. Notice I said target line. This doesn't mean the hole but rather the path that the ball needs to travel in order to get to the hole.
Keep all these elements intact, and you should see improved putting in no time.
There is a standard rule of thumb for putting that usually works, but depends on the terrain, so adjust accordingly. For a five foot putt, bring your putter back five inches, and then follow through five inches.
Why do most putts miss? Because the stance and the putter head are NOT square to the target line.
With putting, this issue of being square cannot be overstated. It's vital that you get comfortable with being squared up on putts. Keep your wrists tight and don't let them break and you should see a great improvement in your putting in a very short time. Shaving strokes through better putting is something everyone can master. Young or old, weak or strong, putting can turn out to be a player's best friend.
About the author:
Robert Partain has been an avid golfer for over 40 years. He publishes a golf advice blog that is updated 4 times a week with golf tips, techniques, and information.
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