The game within a game: The nuances of putting

Watching the Solheim Cup recently, I stumbled across the famous American golfer Michelle Wie and was struck by how unusual her putting stance and stroke was. (See the video below)


Putting is an aspect of your golf game which can be your best friend out on the course, rescuing a round for you, or it can be your mortal enemy. Just ask Lee Westwood, who has endured his own putting woes at a number of Major tournaments in recent times.


So in this article, we’re going to examine a little of “the game within a game” and learn a bit more about improving your putting.



1. Spend as much time practising putting as you do putting in a round

Isn’t it odd that many golfers spend 95% of their time on the range hitting iron shots, pitches and drives and only a fraction of their time putting, yet 30-40% of shots played in a round are played using the shortest club in the bag?


Quite simply, if you don’t practice putting, you’ll never improve at it.

Tiger Woods, arguably one of the finest modern day putters, has a rigorous putting training routine that he adheres to in order to keep his skills sharp and all the top professionals will take advice from putting guru’s like Brad Faxon and Dave Stockton in order to help keep their skills on the green in shape.


So if you are still taking far too many three putts on the greens, then you need to spend more time on the practice greens sorting out your putting stroke.



2. Find a putter that you are comfortable with.

Gary Player once said about a golfers relationship with a putter “It’s a marriage. If I had to choose between my wife and my putter, well, I’d miss her.” Some players will try a different putter every week until they find one they like and then they may stick with that putter for many, many years, even if they change every other club in their bag several times.


As a beginner, don’t rush out to buy the first and most expensive putter you see. Try out several different types and focus on the feel of the putter, how it transmits the control and striking of the ball up the shaft to your hands. If you have the “feel” of a putter, you’ll be more confident and are likely to putt better with it.


That’s true whether it is a £200 Scotty Cameron or a £10 second hand golf-shop budget putter. It is all down to your own personal choice.



3. Avoid the cardinal sin of using the hands, wrists or arms to make the putting stroke

One of the biggest mistakes a beginner golfer makes when putting is using their arms, hands and wrists to make the putting stroke. Ideally, your putting stroke needs to be a pendulum motion created by the movement of your body and/or shoulders. Your arms should remain locked as should your hands and wrists around the club.


A good practice here to ensure good putting posture is to place a golf glove under each armpit, if at any point of your putting stroke, a glove falls out, you are introducing movement of the arms into the stroke and compromising its accuracy and efficiency.


Focus on creating a smooth, flowing movement of equal speed on the backswing and when striking the ball. Don’t jab at the ball, or decelerate through the shot. Hit the ball on your chosen line at the pace you judge to be right and trust your instinct.




4. Remember, a good putting stroke is one where you get the ball in the hole

While all the above is good advice for a novice player, if you already have your own somewhat unique putting stroke that works for you, then stick with it. As former US Open winner of 1902 Laurie Auchterlonie noted “you get no points for style when it comes to putting, it’s getting the ball to drop into the cup that counts”.


While the key to putting well is to work on your putting and find a style and club that suits you, the truth is that it doesn’t have to follow the aesthetically pleasing style of any other golfer.


And golfers like Michelle Wie certainly prove that.


Images Courtesy of Ernie Els Facebook Page, Chase Glen Putters, Gorilla Golf Stock Image


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golf products online September 5, 2013

Putting is arguably the most important skill in golf. Getting the pace of the ball right comes from developing a smooth putting rhythm. The putting tips shared here are great!

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