Throughout the rich history of the game of golf players have been baffled and at times disgusted that missing a three foot putt and hitting a 300 yard drive amount to the same are essentially one in the same. Putting has always been an art form that few have truly mastered. Think of your local course or club. We all know of the old man that can barely hit it out of his shadow but seemingly holes every putt he looks at. He is so matter of fact about it too, just calmly knocking putt after putt in the hole. It almost makes us sick. Then at the end of the day we find ourselves envious of his ability with the flat stick. Here are a few ideas to consider before even striking the ball that will help.
Nearly 43% of all strokes made are putts. The emphasis placed on putting should be paramount yet we spend our practice time beating balls on the range. Putting involves controlling distance and direction. Of these two, controlling our distance is more important because if we do miss, we want a closer attempt on our next stroke. There are four main goals to remember when putting or working on our putting stroke.
- Hit the ball in the sweet spot
- Move the putter head toward the target.
- Keep the clubface square
- Move the putter at a pace that will allow the ball to finish close to or in the hole
With that being said there are some essential principles to help you achieve those four objectives. Just as with the full swing in putting we must first consider grip, aim and set up.
Gripping the Club
The club should be held primarily in the palms, not the fingers, so the shaft is in line with the forearms. This helps to avoid a “wristy” stroke and maintains consistency. The placement of your hands on the club varies and is mainly a matter of personal preference. The goal is just to have a grip that will be comfortable and allow you to solidly strike the ball.
Just as with a full swing, alignment of the body in putting is parallel and left of the target line. The eyes may be the most important aspect to aiming properly. They should be aligned over or just inside of the golf ball when looking straight down on it. As we align our eyes, it makes it easier to align the other parts of the body, the shoulders, forearms, knees and feet in relation to the target. Note that eye alignment is most important as many great players over the years are not aligned with their lower bodies while putting. Think of Jack Nicklaus for example. His feet were aligned well left of the target but his eyes were in a great position for aiming and striking the ball.
The feet should be a little less than a shoulder width apart with some variation depending on preference. Always lean on the side of being too wide rather than too narrow in order to maintain more balance and stability. Posture is very important and a little flex in the knees is ideal. Just try and feel an athletic stance. A good indicator of an athletic stance is the hips. Are they directly over the heels? If so, then you are well balanced. Let your arms hang comfortably and place your weight over your heels.
There are other issues to discuss in relation to the actual putting stroke but that is another discussion for another time, such as next week!
Questions? Need Help? [email protected]