PUTTING TIPSGolf would be an almost enjoyable game if it weren't for a little thing called putting.
Imagine what it would be like if you never had to stand over a 3 footer "for the match" again. Imagine hitting two beautiful shots to reach the par 5 and marking a "2" on your scorecard instead of 5. How relaxing would that round be?
But alas, they've spent all that money putting in all those greens and damn holes, so you know they're going to use them. That leaves us with a few options. We can just give up the game altogether and take up bowling. We can accept the fact that we suck at putting and not let it upset us. Or we can really work on our putting and try to get better. Option one is oh so tempting. Option 2 we both know ain't happenin'. That leaves us with only option 3....get better! How sweet would it be to Never Miss A Short Putt?.
Find a grip that "locks" your hands together so they can act as one. The "finger locking grip" is often used by the pros. The key with this grip is to have the forefinger of the left hand overlap the pinky and ring finger of the right. The idea is to take the right hand out of the swing almost completely so it can't take over. Let the left hand guide the putter both back and forward.
When you take your grip keep both thumbs pointing down the top of the shaft. This ensures your palms face each other, and that they will work together to keep the putter face square to the hole.
This one is simple. Play it off your left big toe. Eyes directly over ball. Comfortable relaxed stance. (if you want to check if your eyes are over the ball do this: Address the ball. Remove one hand from the putter and hold a second golf ball right between your eyes and let it drop. If you're eyes were over the ball the second ball should hit the the ball on the ground. If it doesn't adjust your stance until it does, or at least until it comes real close.
The most important thing here is keeping the club LOW to the ground. "Low back and low through". The ball won't hop and will roll smooth and true if you do this correctly.
DO NOT take the club back too far and then try to decelerate to gauge distance! The follow through should be at least as long as the back swing. (If you "punch" at it instead of swinging through the ball you'll never be even a decent putter....and we'll all laugh behind you're back while you're putting.)
The deal here is much the same as it was in the ISAG instruction area for "IMPACT". Keep your left wrist firm through impact and well past the ball. This may be easier to accomplish while putting than on the full swing, but it's just as important! Let that left wrist collapse and you'll miss a lot of putts.
Much more than anything else your mental approach will dictate if you're going to SUCKATPUTTING, or SUCKATDRIVING, or just SUCKATGOLF in general. "Negative Waves", as my good friend and ISAG angry writer, Dave Rogers would say, will kill any chance you have to succeed. You must Think Positve!
Now I know it can be difficult to "think positve"when you're 3-putting every other green and your nickname is "Stone hands". So how do you learn to "Think Positve?" You guessed it....Practice.
You've got to practice putting as much or more than the rest of your game. Practice not only the putts themselves, but your positive mind set while you putt.
Let's take a lesson from Tiger Woods. (I know, he's not on the ISAG staff, but we'll vouch for him.) Tiger learned how to putt by "taking mental pictures" of the line and distance while addressing the putt. When he looks down the line he's taking a mental picture of the putt 1/3 of the way to the hole. Then he takes a mental picture of the putt 2/3's of the way, and then all the way to the hole. He looks down at the ball for the final time and pulls the trigger. It's important to realize that Tiger's not just looking at "his line" when he looks up from his address. He's forming a mental picture of the distance and direction and how the putt is going to feel in his mind. Once this picture is taken he makes his stroke.
Tiger's dad taught him this when he was too young to understand measurements. A two foot putt might have been "1 picture". A 5 foot putt "2 pictures" etc. etc. He still uses this today.
Whether you want to try this or something else is up to you. The point is that practicing the grip, or the backswing, or any physical move isn't enough. As we've stated in many other areas on this web site, the key to playing better is to "feel" the various shots. You learn to feel the shot by practicing them over and over with both your body and in your mind.
Learn what it feels like to hit putts of varying speeds, breaks, and distance. Don't get paralyzed with technique. Tiger may succeed taking mental pictures of the line. You may need to take a practice stroke while looking at the hole to "feel the putt",....whatever works for you.
The key however is to practice FEELING the putt in your mind, rather than focusing only on techinique.