By Jeff O'Brien
If you're just learning or taking up the game of golf, here's the one tip that will lower your scores faster than any other tip on golf - putting. That's right. Putting. No putting isn't the sexy thing to do around the practice tee. It's doesnít draw a crowd around you like bombing 300 yard drives does, but putting is where you can immediately shave strokes off your golf game.
When I work with young people or anyone just taking up golf, I stress the importance of practicing and working on your game. I understand that it is only natural to want to go 'hit' the golf ball. It's a great feeling to make solid contract on the ball and know for that moment in time that even the proís donít hit it any better.
For this article, I'm not going to discuss the actual mechanics of putting, rather let's discuss why your golf putting game probably deserves more focus that you give it and what you should do.
O.K. think about this (especially for you beginning golfers). I would venture a guess that given any round of golf, you probably putted at least one more time than necessary on each green simply because you don't seriously practice your golf putting game. Easy math… that's 18 strokes right there! Now you're probably thinking I donít loose a stroke on every putting green. I would argue that if you are a high handicapper that you do. Those three and four putt greens... and letís be honest; you are probably pretty generous with those gimme distances arenít you?
This alone should begin to give you the incentive to improve your putting game. The putting stroke isn't fraught with mechanics that you have to learn like you do with a full golf swing. You only need one club to practice this part of your golf game. And with just a little consistent practice time on your golf putting, you can immediately start taking strokes off your game in bunches.
Here are a couple of putting tips and a mind set that I work with others on (and constantly work on with myself).
First when you are practicing putting work on two areas: your line and your distance control.
Putting line: start close to the hole and roll a putt in. When you make three putts in a row, back up about two feet and repeat. Do this out to a range of 8 feet. Initially keep track of how putts it takes you to work your way back to and complete the eight foot mark. Then, your next step with the four putting distances of 2, 4, 6, and 8 feet, is to give yourself 16 putts to complete your putting drill (this allows for one miss at each distance). As you improve, drop your allowable strokes to 15, then 14, and so on, until you reach perfection.
Putting distance control: Depending upon your skill level, begin putting from about 20 feet and repeat the same drill as above moving back 10 feet at a time, only this time you are allowed two putts to hole the ball from each distance. This drill ties into and complements the putting line drill very well. This drill will teach your distance control so you can confidently putt the ball within a distance from the hole that you know you already have a high percentage of chance of making because of the first drill you work on.
Here's a mind set that you should always take to your actual round of golf. This is one that I used when I first starting playing golf and work with people still today.
I knew my golf game from tee to green would have many peaks and valleys before actually reaching the green. But hereís the personal game I played within myself when first leaning golf, and I truly believe it will work for you. Not matter how bad (or good) it is off the tee. No matter how long it takes you to get out of trouble. No matter what happens. Whether you get to the putting surface in regulation or twice regulation; here is your mind set. I am not going to three putt. I am going to re-focus, remember my drills, and have confidence in what I have practiced. And I am not going to three putt any golf greens today.
And finally, don't short change your putting game. Putt everything out. I mean this. If you are serious about getting and staying better, putt everything out. No gimmes. Keep your putting game sharp. Donít let it slowly deteriorate because your buddies let you pick everything up inside 3ft (or even more generous than that). If you do, you soon start giving strokes away when they count.