As a putter, although several coaches tried to give me advice, I continued to build on my own putting technique. Whenever a coach tried to teach me the ‘correct’ putting grip – or the correct posture – I listened respectfully – but ignored all the advice.
Putting is one of those things that should (and does) come naturally to anyone – provided one doesn’t get external interfering advice. Even a 3 year old can stand and putt it into the hole.
There are only two fundamentals to putting:
- Develop your own style ( Never get a putting lesson)
- It is all about the speed. Forget the Line – just worry about the speed of the putt.
Putting Fundamental #1 – Develop your own style (Never Get a Putting Lesson)
Never get a putting lesson from anyone – just develop your own feel and style. There are famous golfers who putted using ONLY their wrists (Henry Cotton) and others who use their shoulders exclusively (most PGA pros today).
Not only do golfers differ in which body part to use for putting, they cannot even agree on a single putting ‘grip’ that works for everyone.
Jordan Spieth uses a reverse putting grip (left hand below the right) – as do several other professionals. The bottom-line is – try what works for you – if it works – just stick with it. All you want out of this step is to strike the ball solid – on the center of putter face. If you are able to do that – and STILL find yourself not making enough putts, make sure you are focusing on the fundamental #2 – the speed of the putt.
Putting Fundamental #2 (The Secret) – It is all about the speed
Every instructor you meet will mention the two fundamentals of putting – Line and Speed. Here is why I think you should NEVER worry about the line – and focus only on speed.
When you try to estimate the speed with which the putt should be traveling, your brain AUTOMATICALLY defines the line on which you are visualizing the speed. It is near impossible to visualize SPEED without an implicit assumption about the putting line.
Once I started focusing on the speed with which the putt needs to be traveling, I started consistently two putting – and even making the occasional long one. Two simple things to keep in mind when you are estimating the speed of the putt:
- WHERE should you try and estimate the speed of the putt – at the very start – or towards the middle (half-way to the hole)? Sometimes, it helps to visualize the STARTING speed – at other times, the speed closer to the midpoint (how fast should it be traveling half way to the hole?).
- Attempt to get the ball all the way to the BACK of the cup! Some people try to putt so that it just ‘drops’ in. This is also the reason why most putts that are missed in the world of golf – are missed SHORT. Try and impart enough speed to get the ball to the very BACK of the cup – maybe even a foot past it! You should become one of those putters who NEVER leaves it short. If you follow this maxim, you will find yourself making more (many more) than you miss.
The Eagle Putt
We have all been there – on the green in 2 (on a par 5) – staring at a (usually loooonggg) eagle putt. Wouldn’t it be nice to make it? At least, to ensure a birdie in the pocket? To my surprise, I found myself able to do this every single time – once I started following the ‘focus on the speed’ rule.
Prior to this, I would find myself 3-putting (or worse) on those long, undulating putts. Admit it – we all feel a twinge of sadness on missing birdie after reaching the green in 2!
Try and relearn putting from the ground up – using no other guide than your own self. Whatever grip feels comfortable, whatever stance and posture feels comfortable – go with it. All you need out of this step is to be able to STRIKE the ball solid – on the middle of the putter blade.
Once you are comfortable standing over a putt, try and start the process of SPEED ESTIMATION. What speed do I start this putt out with – to get all the way to the back of the cup? What speed should it be traveling midway?
Simply working on these simple estimations will free your mind of ‘Am I on line, how many breaks are there in this putt…etc.’ Believe me, your mind automatically calculates the correct line if you are performing a SPEED ESTIMATE calculation.
Try it out for at least a couple of days – and let me know if it works for you. Questions? Comments?