Mastering the game within a game: A successful guide to putting from the Masters

How much time to do you devote to practising your putting? Be honest. It’s probably nowhere near the amount of time you’ll spend at the range thrashing your driver and irons.

That’s a shame because most of the shots you’ll take in any round, will be with the shortest club in your bag and to neglect it, is in effect doing the same to a third or more of your golf game.



Although written in 1902, J.H.Taylor summed up this issue perfectly when he remarked:

“I regret to say an instructor, as a rule, experiences the greatest difficulty in inducing a pupil to devote himself to putting. He is willing to admit its importance, but he fails to devote sufficient time to the task of mastering its details.”


What this means is that if we assume you need to practise putting as often as all other aspects of your game and you spend two hours at the range each week, then at least 33% of that time (40 minutes) should be devoted to your putting alone.

Now that we understand we need to devote sufficient time to putting, we also need to understand that to become a better putter, we need to practice the right things.  Rather than me explain what makes solid putting practice, let’s learn what some of the best putters in history think helps make a player improve their putts.


Ernie Els Belly Putter 2


Dave Stockton, perhaps one of the most talented putters of all time, noticed just how many players make numerous practice strokes before making their stroke. He noted that “practice strokes take your mind off the line of your putt, your image of the ball going into the hole, your feel for the speed of the green.”

So our first tip here seems to be  not to over-think the putt and make too many practice strokes as they are more likely to hinder you in sinking the putt, rather than help.


Tom Watson had a simple enough tip when he suggested “Aim the putter, then align your body”. Which sounds somewhat obvious, but how many of us do the opposite? If we build our putting stance around the correct alignment of the putter face with the line it needs to send the ball to go in the hole, the chances are you are far less likely to hit across the ball, or strike it off line.

Tiger Woods, at his best perhaps the finest putter of the current generation of golfers, made several observations about what he believes makes a great putter:

It is important, regardless of the grip you emply, that your hands work as one…A good putter keeps the body still and the blade sqyare by never allowing the left wrist to break down. The putter head never passes the left hand… A pre-putt routine helps you stay nice and relaxed so you can make the best stroke possible.”


There’s a lot in here too we can gleam. The importance of the hands working as one both together and with the putter, the simple teaching point that the putter head should never be in front of the left wrist (for a right handed putter) and that developing a sound and repeatable pre-putt routine can help you stay calm and focused for maximum success.





Finally, the last words of wisdom on the matter come from the great Walter Hagen who noted that “gripping the putter too tightly is one of the surest ways to miss a putt of any length, for it is proof in the first place that you are not relaxed and that you are over-anxious.”

So clearly, how tightly we hold the club is important, to allow us a confident yet controlled swing allowing us to direct the club along the desired line, without pushing or pulling the club due to excessive grip.

Follow these key pointers and according to some of the best golfers ever, your putting should improve. What are your top putting tips?


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One Stroke Golf May 10, 2019

Great post – putting is such a huge part of the game that many people often overlook.

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