Official website of Boulder, Colorado PGA Teaching Pro RJ Wiegand / (303) 808-9355 / Contact

Putting

WHEN

  • Generally speaking use your putter whenever your ball is on the green.
  • Some shots on the fringe and just off the green are also played using a putter. The idea is that your worst putt is better than your worst chip.

SET UP

  • Ball position slightly forward of center.
  • Reverse overlap grip is most common, some use left hand low grip. Only use interlocking grip for extremely long putts, as it will help you release the putter for added distance.
  • Weight evenly balanced or slightly favoring your left side for right handed players. Pinch your knees slightly inward for added stability and feel if you prefer.
  • Hands slightly ahead of or at least even with golf ball.
  • Align the shoulders, hips and feet parallel to the target line.
  • Hips centered over the heels, eyes over the ball to slightly inside the ball. Drop a ball from your eyes to check eye position.
  • Putter shaft should be in line with the forearms. Allow arms to hang freely so the putter is an extension of your arms. Check the length of your putter, more often than not I see people with putters that are too long for their particular bodies.

TECHNIQUE

  • The putting stroke is powered by the big muscles of your body (back, shoulders, biceps and forearms). Keep the triangle formed by your shoulders and arms intact throughout the putting stroke. Keeping your hands “high” or further from the groin area will aid in this process.
  • Backswing and forward swing should be equal in length. 70% of your putting stroke should take place prior to ball contact.
  • Backswing tempo should be smooth and steady, mirroring the tempo of your full swing – not fast and jerky. Control distance by the length of the backswing.
  • Forward swing tempo should be smooth (prior to and following contact with the ball, the putter head actually slows down slightly to reduce the initial velocity of the ball off the putter face). Putting a ball with excessive initial velocity results in bouncing as opposed to a smooth roll.
  • Wrists are “frozen” during the stroke, the club will almost move straight back and through on shorter putts.
  • Club will move on a noticeable arc for longer putts.

STRATEGY

  • Swing tempo is the same for each putt.
  • Vary swing length (both back and through swing) to control distance
  • Shorter overall swing for shorter length putts
  • Longer overall swing for longer length putts
  • Putting stroke either straight back and straight through with minimal face rotation like Steve Stricker or more of an arc stroke allowing the putter face to roll open and then release through impact like Tiger Woods.
  • Practice the natural arc and use a swing aid if you have trouble “feeling” the arc motion (it’s ok to move the club on a slightly inside path during the back swing).
  • Light grip pressure for added feel but hands must face one other in order to work together and “freeze” any wrist hinge during the stroke.
  • Maintain a stable lower body, experiment with different widths of stance.
  • Head must be extremely steady throughout the swing. Hearing is the most important sense when putting. Listen for the ball hitting the bottom of the cup.
  • Use alignment aids or spare clubs placed on the ground to ensure that you’re lined up correctly. Similar to the full swing, I see more people align themselves right of their intended target than anything else. In other words rotate your feet, hips and shoulders to your left at address (for right-handed players) if you are having trouble with your alignment or seem to miss most putts to the right.

DRILLS

  • Distance control is more important than direction. Therefore, practice putting from one end of the green to the other trying to stop the ball short of the fringe.
  • If you putt to a hole, putt from a distance you can make. You are trying to make every putt you hit so practice making putts from inside four feet or so. Mentally, you need to see the ball going in the hole, when practicing longer putts for distance control simply putt to a tee or small spot on the green.
  • Use the line on the golf ball to align with the centerline on your putter. If you aren’t striking the center of the ball with the center point of your putter there is no way to roll the ball end over end consistently. Place tees slightly wider than the width of your putter face and practice making contact with the ball without striking the tees.
  • Hit the target drill
  • –Place 4-6 balls in a circle 3’ away from a tee or coin
  • –Practice hitting the target with a firm, aggressive stroke
  • Ladder drill for distance control
  • –Place tees at 5’ intervals up to 40’
  • –If you come up short or go through the target zone start the whole routine over
  • –Work your way up and down the ladder
  • Clock drill for building confidence under pressure
  • –Place 4 balls around a hole, begin 2’ away from the hole
  • –Make all four putts then move the balls in 1’ increments out to five feet and repeat the process
  • –If you miss, start the routine over and feel the pressure build as you get closer to finishing the cycle

My favorite training aid for putting is to take two knitting sticks and attach 12’ of string. Stick one end of the string 2’ behind the hole and the other end 10’ away from the hole. Find an 8-10’ uphill straight putt for this drill. The string is suspended 6-8” above the green surface. Practice your putting using the string as your guide for line, stroke and centeredness of hit.