Some people have the innate ability to be great at putting. It’s a combination of precision, vision, and muscle memory that’s almost impossible to teach. If you’re one of those people, consider yourself very lucky—because even amongst the pros, they’re few and far between.
So what if, like most golfers, putting is your biggest weakness? Lucky for you, there are a few things you can do to make sure you won’t be adding unnecessary strokes to your next scorecard because you can’t get a handle on your putter. Here are five easy tips to get you started:
1. Grip the club with your fingers
One of the biggest mistakes golfers make is using the palms of their hands to control the putter. This approach hampers your ability to accurately swing the club, as you aren’t using the muscles in your fingers to give you that critical extra guidance you need to make sure the ball gets in the cup. And by using your fingers to grip, you get a much better feel for what the club is doing. The actual grip itself isn’t that important—as long as your fingers are in control.
2. Stop looking at the ball
This may seem counterintuitive, but any experienced golf pro will tell you that it works. When you’re stepping up to hit a putt, staring at the ball can easily lead to you neglecting your plan for the putt. Instead, look at the area right in front of the ball along your line and concentrate on hitting the ball over that patch of grass. Focusing on your line is what’s important—not on the ball itself.
3. Know the green—and how to read it
Every green is different. And you’ve got to take into account all the variables to ensure that you know how to read greens correctly. These variables include things like break, length of grass, wetness of grass, imperfections in the green (divots, bare spots, etc.), and distance. Many people don’t know that the best time to start evaluating a green is actually when you’re far away from it. You can get a great sense of a green’s angles from the fairway—or on shorter holes from the tee box. Learn how to read greens effectively, and your putting will surely improve.
4. Putt in the dark
This may seem like an odd tip, but many of golf’s top pros claim it’s quite effective. Find a putting green you can use when the sun is down, and get to work. The best way to do this is to drop a few balls on the green, then walk up to the hole and judge the distance. Go back to your ball and hit the putt. The absence of light will force you to rely less on your eyes, and more on your other senses. You might be surprised at how much information you can get about a green by simply walking on it. If you can putt well in the dark, imagine how well you’ll do when it’s light out!
5. Put in the work
It might seem rudimentary, but more than any other shot in golf, your putting will improve with consistent practice. Find time to hit the practice green at your local range or golf course at least a few times a week, and your putting game is sure to improve. The nice thing about putting is that golf courses usually don’t charge to let you use their practice putting greens. And if you’re really dedicated to getting better, set up a putting green in your own back yard. All it takes is two days if you follow this plan.