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I often get asked what my best putting tips are or what the best way to get better at putting is.
In my opinion, there are three things that matter the most – three keys that you need to practice – to improve your putting:
- Starting the ball on the line
- Green reading
- Speed control
Starting the ball on line is the foundation of good putting. If you cannot start the ball on the line it doesn’t matter if you read the putt well or if you judged the speed correctly. To become a good putter you need to know that you can actually start the ball on your intended line. My favorite drill for practicing this is using the Dave Pelz Putting Tutor, which is my absolute favorite training aid for putting. If you don’t have a tutor like the one from Pelz golf you can also create your own little ”gate” using two tees or golf balls and place them about 20 cm (14”) in front of the ball, a bit more than one ball apart. The purpose of the drill is to start the ball on the line by hitting it through the gate and whenever you miss you get great feedback on if you’re missing it to the right or to the left and can adapt accordingly.
Green reading is another fundamental part of improving your putting. You do need to know how to read greens if you want to improve your putting. The only way to become better at this is by practice. I would encourage you to get out on the course (if possible) or on a good practice green and spend some time looking at putts from different angles. Try to find a hole where you will have different putts if you were to place four balls around the hole from about 2 m (6.5 ft) and study these putts. A good place to start might be to approach the hole and try to find the straight putt to the hole from 2m. Once you find that putt, mark it with a tee and start looking at the putts to the left and right of that tee. Soon you will start to see that the more you move to the right of that first tee, the more the putt will break from right to left and the more you move to the left of that tee, the more the putt will break from left to right. Like I said before, the best way to become better at reading greens is to practice it and spend as much time as possible studying breaks and hitting putts from different positions around a hole to get a feel for how the breaks change when you move the ball around the hole.
Speed control is the third key to becoming a better putter. As I’ve said on this blog before, speed is the very first thing you need to determine when reading a putt. So how do you get good at controlling the speed? You practice it. I would recommend setting up tees at different distances from a hole and then alternate hitting putt from each distance with the aim of leaving the ball within a 0.5m (2-3 ft) invisible circle around the hole. The most important thing to remember when practicing speed control is to switch things up and never hit a large number of putts in a row from the exact same spot because doing so gets you in the ”groove” rather than teaching you how to adapt to different distances. So try finding a rather large practice green and hit putts from different distances towards that invisible circle around the hole, both uphill and downhill, and see how good you can get at it. With time, this type of practice will help you get more comfortable controlling the speed out on the course.
My putting philosophy overall is pretty simple. I don’t spend too much time worrying about the exact percentage of the arc of my putting stroke. If I can consistently start the ball on the line, I am good at reading putts and I’ve got the distance control figured out – then I’ll most likely be happy with the way that I’m putting.