One of the hardest aspects of playing golf, is to change the speed with which you strike the ball in the beginning of the game to the one you use during putting. When you start the game you need to use a lot of speed so that the ball advances the greatest distance possible. However, by the time you get to the green, you have to learn how to calm down and strike the ball steadily so that it enters the hole.
Putting is a very important part of this sport because it can require more strikes than you could initially expect. Usually the green has a slope which is needed so that the water drains when it is raining. It is not always clear what orientation or how pronounced the slope is. If you add to this the resistance created by the orientation of the grass, it can be a very complicated part of the game.
Putting is a very personal part of playing golf. It is so personal that a lot of different types of putters have been designed in order to adapt to the different requirements of the players. Some people believe that putting correctly is all about intuition the feeling. In the end, the key to putting is practice, repeating the concepts and really good drills. No matter how well you can putt, you can always get better. These next putting tips are a collection of the best advices given by experts in the Internet.
The Left Hand Guides the Putter
One of the hardest parts of putting is controlling the trajectory of the ball inside the green. Your right hand is used for the strength of the strike. The left hand guides the putter. Hold the grip with your left hand in a steady position that guarantees you will have perfect control of its direction.
If you align your left hand's lifeline with the grip you will have the same angle between your forearm and the putter always. The shaft should look like an extension of your forearm. This will give you better control of the strike.
Hold the Putter Using Your Fingers
Holding the putter with your fingers, will give you better control of its movement. The arm has the strongest muscles near the shoulder and the weakest tendons in the fingers. Since fingers are great for dexterity and putting has to do with precision, they have to be a part of the process. Your right hand has to hold the grip with emphasis on the fingers to release the strength and focus on direction.
Separation of the feet
The separation of your feet can affect how well you putt. If you separate your feet too much, you are in a potion that prepares you for rapid movement. This is not the case in putting. While it is not wrong to separate your feet too much, it is preferred to separate them just a little bit (about one feet apart) and slightly bend your knees.
Keep Putter at a Constant Distance
Keep the distance of the clubface and your chest constant. If you move your putter near you or far away from you by folding your elbows, you will have many inconsistency problems. By keeping a constant distance you can have a better control of your stroke. Your elbows should be half bent and remain like that at all times during the stroke.
Tilt Your Upper Body
Tilt your upper body forward a little bit so that you don't have to twist a lot for the strike. That way you will have a more natural and stable stroke. Your eyes should be on top of the ball and your hands should be more or less under your shoulders.
Rotate Your Shoulders
Some golfers like to move their wrists when they are putting. That is fine, if it works for them. However, if you strike the ball by rotating your shoulders, and keeping your arms close to your sides at all times, you will have greater control on the direction of the ball. The rotation of your shoulders should be minimum because you are not striking the ball hard.
It is important not to move your knees or your hips during the strokes because you would loose control of the ball. In order to control the degree of rotation required and the balance of your body for the stroke, practice putting by standing only on your left foot. When you do this, try to
stand still throughout the entire swing (don't move your weight to your right foot).
Do Not Move Your Wrists
In order to keep control of the stroke, your wrist should not move. The shaft should be tilted a little bit towards the ball, but it is barely noticeable. Your arms and the putter should move like a single object. Practice your strokes by placing a golf ball between your right wrist and your putter's grip. Try to strike without dropping the ball.
Strike Using the Central Part of the Clubface
If you hit the ball with the central part of the clubface, you will have better control of its direction and speed. When you practice, you can place two sticky objects on the clubface to frame the center. If the ball did not hit the center, it will get pasted and it will get nowhere.
There is a method to find the exact place of the clubface where you should hit the ball. If you hold your putter vertically, from the middle of the shaft, and tap the clubface with your other hand, there will be a point where the clubface will stop twisting and move straight backwards. That is the best place where you should hit the ball because it will give you very goodcontrol of the ball's trajectory. It is somewhere in the center of the clubface, but in some specific putters it may move a little to one side.
Keep Consistent Speed On Your Stroke
The putter should hit the ball at a constant speed. If it is accelerating or decelerating during the strike, you will have less control of the ball's speed. In order to strike the ball with a constant movement, first calculate the direction of the strike. Next you move the putter backwards and
pause for one or two seconds. Finally you let the putter fall like a pendulum. This simplifies the process of putting.
Use a Putter that Matches Your Type of Stroke
There are several types of common strokes. You should use a putter that matches the shape of your stroke. If you have a straight stroke, you will perform better with a balanced putter. If your stroke has the shape of an arch, you will do better with a putter that has a toe hang.
Don't Look at the Ball Moving
Do not look at the ball while it advances towards the hole. This can make you twist your hip and that can ruin the last part of your stroke. There are golf players that only hear the ball go in the hole (and never look at it moving). If you have to look at the ball, twist your neck (but never your hip).
Don't Look at the Ball for Too Long
If you look at the ball for a long period of time, there will come a point in which your brain will get locked. Focus on rolling the ball on top of the spot between the ball and the hole. This will help define the direction that it needs. The best tip for putting is do not force yourself too much. I you think too much about how to hit the ball, chances are you will do it poorly. Relax, keep it simple, and be a little careless. Don't get very nervous because that could make you miss the hole. Looking at the ball for too long can be the result of this nervousness.
The Ball Should Roll to the Hole
You will have better control of the ball's direction if you roll it through the green. You should avoid hitting the ball too hard, lifting it from the green, or making it bounce on the green. The type of strike you require here is more about precision. Place your putter vertically just before
it hits the ball. And align the central part of your body with the putter. Some people believe that at this point you should strike the ball tilting the putter's shaft very slightly towards the ball so that you hit the top part of the ball and make it roll over the green.
Length of a Putting Stroke
When you are putting, the length of the backstroke does not match the length of the forward stroke. This could lead to pushing the ball with the putter instead of hitting it, which does not help in accuracy. If you use a 60% in the backstroke and a 40% in the forward stroke, you will achieve better results.
Practice to Control the Speed
Controlling speed is important because, despite the fact that you need a lot less speed in putting than in the first part of the game, some greens can be large and the difference of speed required for strokes of different distances can be hard to master.
These are two exercises to control speed. In the first one, you need a fake target, which is a circle drawn on the green, or any flat round object that substitutes the hole. When you practice, aim at a fake target and try to make the ball pass it by a certain distance, like one or two feet. This will help you control your speed.
Another exercise is to align five balls, each tree feet apart. The hole has to be aligned with the balls and there must be a tee at about one foot behind the hole. Next you have to put each ball in the hole, but trying to give each ball enough speed to reach the tee behind the hole. You start with the closest ball and as you retreat from the hole you will need greater speed so that each ball reaches the hole. If you miss a shot, see if it reaches the tee (to check if the speed was the correct one). The interesting part of the exercise is to do this uphill, downhill, and from each side of the
slope of the green. It is a very complete exercise that allows you to manipulate the speed almost intuitively when you are playing in the green.
Practice Short Putts
Practice putting from a distance of three feet. That is a hard distance to get the ball in the hole. If you get to dominate that, you are going to be in good shape for the rest of the cases. Try this exercise by stroking from the four cardinal directions. If the green has a slope, you will practice this also.
Practice With Different Slopes
Sometimes greens have slight slopes. In these cases, when you strike the ball gravity pulls it downward creating a curved trajectory. Some people miss because of this.
By practicing with different slopes, you can calculate how much the trajectory of the ball will be curved downwards and strike the ball upwards, just enough so that he ball enters the hole with the curved trajectory. If you retreat a long distance and lower yourself, you can see more clearly the slope of the green and make more precise calculations.
How to Read the Green
Reading the green means understanding the slope and the texture of the grass. First, look for the highest and the lowest part of the general terrain. The green's orientation might be related to that general slope. Then look for the places where the water would go if it rains and try to define that slope. Next, look at what happens with the balls of the other players as they play in the green and try to determine its slope. Next retreat and lower yourself trying to determine the slope of the green and see if all that information makes sense. Finally look at the direction in which the grain of the grass grows to determine how that will affect the break of the putt.
Plumb Technique to Calculate Slopes
If you want a precise calculation of the slope of the green and the direction to which you should aim your strike, use this technique. Place yourself in a straight line that includes the hole and the ball. Then hold your putter vertically and loosely from the top of the grip (allowing it to move like a pendulum). Using the eye that is opposite to the arm that is holding the putter, cover half of the ball with the bottom of the shaft. Since gravity will orient the putter to a vertical position, the side of the shaft where the hole appears will indicate where the lowest part of the slope is.
Also, if you drew a line from the hole perpendicular to the shaft, that intersection is the place where you should aim your strike. If you do so, gravity will curve the ball's trajectory towards the hole. This technique only works for flat, inclined plains. Practice this technique to get better in putting.
Practice With a Wedge
If you practice with a wedge, you will improve your skills enormously (with the putter it is too easy). The problem with the wedge is striking the ball in the correct place so that it stays rolling on the ground. The area for the strike is a lot smaller on the wedge. This method can really speed up your ability for putting. However, if it creates confusion, then don't use it.
Control the Toe and Heel of the Putter
During the swing, the toe of the putter always advances more than the heel of the putter. In order to control this, practice by striking two balls at once. Align the balls perpendicular to the trajectory to the hole, so that you hit both of them at the same time with one strike (one with the heel of the putter and the other one with the toe of the putter). Try to make both of them advance at the same speed. Practice this exercise regularly to have a more consistent and even stroke.
Practice Controlling the Direction of the Stroke
Don't only study how to move your arms to putt. Practice controlling the direction of the stroke. You can do this by placing the ball in a specific place on the green and placing two tees or golf balls that frame the line that marks the trajectory that the ball must follow in order to enter the hole. Remember that a difference of two degrees will make you miss the hole.
Putting is a very important part of golf because it can affect enormously the score. It requires different abilities than those used during the beginning of the game. It is one of those areas that golf players constantly want to master. As it turns out, it seems there is always something new to learn about putting. That is one of the fun things about golf, there is always something new to learn.