Archive for Putting

Become a Better Lag Putter

There are a few areas that high hand­i­cap or begin­ner golfers should focus on to most quick­ly improve their game. Hit­ting the ball in the fair­way off the tee might be the first and most impor­tant. Improv­ing your pitch­ing and chip­ping around the green is anoth­er one.

Today, we will be dis­cussing an equal­ly impor­tant area of focus for high-hand­i­cap golfers which is elim­i­nat­ing three putts. Of course while the goal is to elim­i­nate three putts, no one ever does, but the point is to dras­ti­cal­ly reduce the num­ber that you have. While hit­ting a ball out of play off the tee can derail your hole before it starts, noth­ing is more deflat­ing than hit­ting a green in reg­u­la­tion only to three putt for a bogey. Worse yet is to three putt after strug­gling from tee to green and end­ing up with a blow-up hole. The abil­i­ty to putt well can make up for ear­li­er mis­takes on a hole but there is noth­ing to cov­er up for bad putting.

The most impor­tant skill to devel­op when work­ing towards elim­i­nat­ing three putts is effec­tive lag putting. Lag putting is not try­ing to make the putt but instead get­ting it close enough to insure that you can make the sec­ond putt. So we’re talk­ing about get­ting with­in a few feet of the hole. The chances of a high hand­i­cap golfer mak­ing a putt out­side of 10 feet are low, while their chances of mak­ing one out­side of 15 feet drop down to almost noth­ing. You obvi­ous­ly will make a long putt now and then but out­side of 10–15 feet you are much bet­ter off to con­cen­trate on get­ting the ball with­in a cou­ple feet of the hole instead of try­ing to make it.

Quite pos­si­bly the biggest dif­fer­ence between the putting of a pro­fes­sion­al golfer and that of an ama­teur is the amount of feel that a pro­fes­sion­al golfer uses in putting. Many high hand­i­cap golfers have a very mechan­i­cal putting swing. While it’s very impor­tant to have prop­er mechan­ics while putting, there is a great deal of feel required in putting espe­cial­ly for dis­tance con­trol.

Check out the video below from Char­lie King. He pro­vides three great drills to devel­op your feel for lag putting.

There is anoth­er, just an impor­tant, skill required to be a suc­cess­ful lag put­ter. You need to be able to make short putts! A suc­cess­ful lag putt to with­in two to three feet of the hole is wast­ed if you don’t make the putt. The best way to make more short putts is too prac­tice mak­ing more short putts! Check out this next video from short game guru Dave Pelz with tips for if you con­tin­ue to miss short putts.

Change your prac­tice rou­tine if yours cur­rent­ly con­sists of putting a few 10 to 15 foot­ers before your round. Ded­i­cate reg­u­lar prac­tice time for work­ing on your lag putting and you can dras­ti­cal­ly reduce the num­ber of times you three putt.

Putting is the Foundation to Improving your Golf Game

A sol­id golf game is con­sis­tent in three areas — hit­ting fair­ways, hit­ting greens in reg­u­la­tion, and putting. Con­tin­u­al issues in any of these areas can pro­hib­it a high hand­i­cap golfer from ele­vat­ing their game to shoot­ing bogey golf.

Dri­ving accu­ra­cy and hit­ting greens in reg­u­la­tion are impor­tant to scor­ing low. You can, how­ev­er, miss fair­ways or greens and still recov­er through oth­er areas of your game. Miss a fair­way and still hit the green in reg­u­la­tion by hit­ting a good approach shot. Miss the green in reg­u­la­tion and sal­vage the hole with a nice chip or bunker shot.

Putting is not as for­giv­ing. Good putting can help you score low on a hole or help you sal­vage a hole on which you have made mis­takes. But there is no recov­ery from poor putting. By three putting a hole, you will either waste a great scor­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty or com­pound pre­vi­ous mis­takes on a hole result­ing in an unwant­ed score. Even if you hit the green in reg­u­la­tion, three putt and you’ll end up with a bogey. You need to take advan­tage of hit­ting greens in reg­u­la­tion by mak­ing pars and an occa­sion­al birdie. Pars are need­ed to off­set the dou­ble bogeys or worst that you will score in your round.

High hand­i­cap golfers should work on elim­i­nat­ing three putts to move towards con­sis­tent­ly shoot­ing 90. The goal for high hand­i­cap golfers should be to make every putt with­in 15 feet. The prob­a­bil­i­ty of a high hand­i­cap golfer mak­ing putts out­side of 15 feet is low. Lag putt every putt out­side of 15 feet. Lag putting is putting the pri­or­i­ty on leav­ing the ball with­in a few feet of the hole to insure mak­ing your sec­ond putt instead of try­ing to make the first putt. Dur­ing time on the prac­tice green, be sure to prac­tice lag putting from 15 to 50 feet. As your golf game pro­gress­es and you hit more greens in reg­u­la­tion with your approach shot, you will be faced with longer putts than if you were chip­ping or pitch­ing onto the green. Suc­cess­ful lag putting will be impor­tant to take advan­tage of hit­ting greens in reg­u­la­tion.

The oth­er end of suc­cess­ful lag putting is mak­ing short putts. No mat­ter how good your lag putting is, you still have too many three putts if you miss short sec­ond putts. Strive to make every­thing with­in three feet of the cup. Every time at the end of prac­tic­ing your putting on the prac­tice green, chal­lenge your­self to make ten three foot­ers in a row. If you miss one start over at zero. Work on a full fol­low through and avoid “stab­bing” at the short putts. One of the most frus­trat­ing things in golf is to play a hole great and then miss a short putt at the end.

Make putting the strong point of your game no mat­ter what lev­el your game is at. Good putting can help you score low and can also bail you out of trou­ble. Three putts will lead to frus­tra­tion. Reduce your num­ber of three putts and see your golf game improve!

Reading Putts

While cor­rect­ly judg­ing the speed of your putts is the most impor­tant fac­tor in avoid­ing three putts, cor­rect­ly deter­min­ing the break of your putts is cru­cial to mak­ing more putts. Scratch and low hand­i­cap golfers rely on mak­ing putts to score low. High hand­i­cap golfers are too incon­sis­tent to score low, but mak­ing putts can off­set oth­er mis­cues and help in shoot­ing 90. Strokes with your put­ter make up a big­ger part of your score than any oth­er club. Know­ing how to judge the break of your putts is nec­es­sary for sink­ing more putts.

The first key to mak­ing more putts is to know the speed of the greens. Vis­it the prac­tice green before your round. Hope­ful­ly it is a sim­i­lar speed to the course greens. Take a cou­ple balls and putt from 5, 10 and 15 feet. Final­ly putt to a few dif­fer­ent  spots on the edge of the fringe. Putting to the fringe is a great way to con­firm you have a good idea of the speed of the green.

It is also impor­tant to know the over­all ter­rain of the golf course. If there are moun­tains near­by, every green will most like­ly slope away from them. Like­wise, the greens will most like­ly slope towards the low­est point in the area. The greens on most cours­es will slope down from the back to the front. As you walk up to each green on the course, use this knowl­edge to exam­ine your upcom­ing putt. Based on where your ball is sit­ting on the green, deter­mine if your putt will be uphill or down­hill and which gen­er­al direc­tion it will break.

When on the green, you will want to look at your putt from mul­ti­ple views. The first thing you need to ver­i­fy if your ball is above or below the hole. The eas­i­est way to do this is to look at both your ball and the hole from a side view. Know­ing whether your putt is uphill or down­hill is impor­tant for both judg­ing the speed and break. The best view to read the break of a putt is from below the hole. So for an uphill putt, you should view the putt from behind the ball look­ing up to the hole. Con­verse­ly, for a down­hill putt, view the putt from behind the hole look­ing up to the ball. If you have the time, look at the putt from above the hole. Hav­ing mul­ti­ple looks at your putt will give you more infor­ma­tion and will help your deci­sion mak­ing. Crouch down and be as low to the green as pos­si­ble when view­ing your putts.

When lin­ing up your putts, you are visu­al­iz­ing the path your ball will take going in the hole. The curve(s) of this path is deter­mined by many fac­tors includ­ing whether the putt is uphill or down­hill, the slope of the green and the speed of the green.

The ball will break more or less depend­ing on how fast it is going. A slow­er mov­ing ball will break more than a faster mov­ing ball. This is because grav­i­ty has a greater affect on an object the slow­er it goes.

It is impor­tant to rec­og­nize cir­cum­stances where your ball will be trav­el­ling more slow­ly and tak­ing more break such as:

Down­hill Putts - You hit your ball more slow­ly on a down­hill putt as it needs less speed to make it to the hole.

Fast Greens - The ball needs less speed to reach the hole on a fast green.

When Approach­ing the Hole - As your ball approach­es the hole, it los­es speed thus being affect­ed more by the slope of the green. Con­verse­ly, your ball will take less break after it is first hit.

Prob­a­bly the hard­est part of a putt with a lot of break is get­ting the ball rolling on your visu­al­ized path with the right speed to keep it on the path. This is where a lot of the “feel” you here about in putting comes into play. Know­ing the right direc­tion and speed for a putt to get it on your visu­al­ized path large­ly comes down to prac­tice and expe­ri­ence. One tip is to putt “around the clock” dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion on the prac­tice putting green. Find a hole on a slope and putt balls from 12 o’clock all the way around back to 12 o’clock. This rep­e­ti­tion will help you hole more putts from these same posi­tions dur­ing play.

Putting is the key for both the pro­fes­sion­al and high hand­i­cap golfer work­ing on shoot­ing 90. Prac­tice read­ing and mak­ing putts with break and you will find your­self sink­ing more on the course.

Eliminating Three Putts

Too many three putt holes dur­ing a round are one of the major road­blocks in the way of high hand­i­cap golfers shoot­ing bogey golf. Even if we do every­thing else right on the hole and hit the green in reg­u­la­tion, we still only reach our goal of scor­ing a bogey if we three putt. We need to take advan­tage of hit­ting greens in reg­u­la­tion by mak­ing pars or bet­ter yet birdies. High hand­i­cap golfers are not going to hit most greens in reg­u­la­tion. Three putts on these holes will lead to dou­ble bogies or worse. Too many of these holes, no mat­ter how well we play on the oth­er holes, and we can nev­er recov­er to shoot a round of bogey golf.

How do we min­i­mize three putts?

Speed is the num­ber one fac­tor in reduc­ing three putts.

The speed of the putt deter­mines how far the ball will trav­el. Except for a few putts with extreme slope that will break a tremen­dous amount, you will always be with­in a few feet of the hole for your sec­ond putt if you have the cor­rect speed regard­less of whether or not you judge the break cor­rect­ly. Obvi­ous­ly the key to reduc­ing three putts is to leave your­self high per­cent­age putts for your sec­ond putt if you don’t sink your first putt.

A con­sis­tent putting stroke is key for hav­ing the cor­rect speed on your putts.

There are sev­er­al dif­fer­ent putting styles, grips and put­ters one can use. I do not believe any of these has a major advan­tage over the oth­ers. The put­ter you choose comes down to what feels most com­fort­able to you.

There are things you will want to do con­sis­tent­ly regard­less of the put­ter you use.

  • Your eyes should be over the ball. The putting stroke and stance are much dif­fer­ent than the full swing set­up. Your head should be direct­ly over the ball and you should be look­ing straight down at the ball. From this posi­tion, it is eas­i­est to cre­ate the pen­du­lum motion need­ed for a con­sis­tent putting stroke. Your shoul­ders act as the base of the pen­du­lum if you are using a short put­ter. Your wrists remain still unlike in the full golf swing. The end of the put­ter acts as the base of the pen­du­lum and is anchored to your body if you are using a long put­ter.
  • When putting, your fol­low-through should be as long as the back­swing. Many high hand­i­cap golfers do not fol­low all the way through on their putting stroke. This is impor­tant for all putts but espe­cial­ly for short ones. The length of your putting stroke should also relate to the length of the putt. The longer the putt, the longer your stroke should be.
  • Try to putt the ball 12 to 18 inch­es past the hole on every putt with­in 15 feet. You’ll nev­er make putts that do not reach the hole. The more putts you can make means less short ones to fin­ish up and few­er strokes on your score­card. Con­sis­tent­ly leav­ing your putts 12 to 18 inch­es past the hole puts the ball at the ide­al speed to go in when it does catch part of the hole.

Get a good read on the ele­va­tion change from your ball to the hole.

Most high hand­i­cap golfers I see only read the break of the putt from behind the ball look­ing toward the hole. I do what you see most pro­fes­sion­als do. I read the putt from both behind the ball look­ing toward the hole and from behind the hole look­ing toward the ball. Some­times the break is much eas­i­er to see from one side over the oth­er. When walk­ing to the oth­er side, I pause and look at the putt from the side. This view pro­vides the best look of any ele­va­tion change from the ball to the hole which is cru­cial in judg­ing the cor­rect speed of the putt. You may be think­ing this will take too long but there is actu­al­ly plen­ty of time on the green to do this while oth­ers are lin­ing up chips and putts.

Judg­ing the cor­rect speed of your putts will get you close to the hole if not in but there is anoth­er thing need­ed to min­i­mize three putts.

You need to make short putts.

You can do a great job of judg­ing speed, but you will inevitably mis­read the break on a lot of putts leav­ing two to three foot putts. You have to have the mind­set that you are going to make all of these. The biggest help in mak­ing short putts is to prac­tice them. I see peo­ple prac­tice their putting on the prac­tice green all the time but how many of them do you see prac­tic­ing short putts or at least fin­ish­ing up the putts they leave from their long attempts? Include some time on the prac­tice green to prac­tice three foot putts.

As we touched on ear­li­er, remem­ber to fol­low through on every putt – espe­cial­ly the short ones. I have a ten­den­cy of not fol­low­ing through on short putts. I end up “stab­bing” at the ball and push­ing the putt to the right.

Three putts can wreck an oth­er­wise good round. You can shave a lot of strokes from your score on the green. The cor­rect speed of putts and the abil­i­ty to make almost every short putt will reduce the num­ber of three putts you have.