Last week we discussed how important the principles of grip, aim and setup are to ensure a reliable putting stroke. This week we will move on to executing that stroke properly in a repetitive and easy fashion with the overall goal of making more putts.
The putting stroke itself is a rhythmical motion that resembles a pendulum. It is very simple in nature if executed properly and is also backed by Physics. Robert Grober of Yale University explains that a solid and natural putting motion is one that one that takes twice as long going back as it does going forward. Furthermore in his studies he has found that “great” putters, the length of time for the stroke is almost identical with a long putt or a short putt. The difference being the longer the putt, the longer the putting stroke, but it still occurs in the same amount of time. Solid putters maintain a 2:1 ratio for tempo. This provides for constant putter speed without quick acceleration or deceleration. Basically, to be a great putter, it is necessary to maintain consistent force and tempo throughout the putting stroke.
Obviously the lower body should stay stable from the waist down to avoid any levers or angles being created along with keeping the eyes in a fixed position. The shoulders should simply rotate around the spine to a certain degree as they go back in a single unit with the arms and hands. During the stroke consistent pressure should be applied. Being aware of the grip on the putter will help with executing the stroke in a repeatable pattern. Remember, the goal is to return the putter face in its original address position while moving towards the target.
As far as other factors in the stroke such as reading greens a simple tip might be to read the green as you approach it. Always look at the area surrounding the green looking for valleys, drains or mountains and make a mental note of the way the green naturally slopes. When looking for break around the hole look from behind the putt for the best view. Another good way to see the break is to look on the low side of the hole. Doing this about halfway between the ball and the hole will provide a great angle and view of the break. Gravity is a big indicator of break. Things such as slopes often make reading greens easier. Putts moving uphill will slow down more quickly and are more susceptible to break while downhill putts lose speed less quickly and will generally hold the line a little bit longer. The greatest way to learn to read greens is experience. There is no substitute. Watch other player’s putts, watch your own putt from start to finish and practice, practice, practice!
Speaking of practice, here a few drills to work on to improve putting.
- NESW drill -Set up four balls 3 feet away. Hit the putts from each direction and hole them all. Then move back to 6 feet and do the same. This drill has many variations and is really up to personal preference and can be very effective with learning break, finding an aiming point and judging the correct speed.
- Barrel drill – Place a semi-circle of tees or golf balls around the back of the hole. Hitting putts from 20, 30 and 40 feet try to knock them within “gimme” range. This will improve lag putting.
- Perseverance drill – Use 3 balls from 3, 6, 9 and 12 feet each and hole every putt without missing one. If you miss, start over again. This can be a real eye opener into your mental toughness and teach you to hole the putt.
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