How to Putt

I know you know “how” to putt.  But do you know how to putt?

Look, we all struggle with knowing how to putt.  Even the pros.  True, they struggle less than we do, but they can still suffer from off days.

In this post, I’m going to tell you how I go about the whole process.  We’re also going to do a little “myth-busting” on what does and doesn’t work.

Interested?  Let’s dive in!

OK, so here’s a text layout of my whole putting routine:

  1. I pace off my putt length.  For me, one step is about 3 yards.  YMMV, but even if it isn’t exact, it just has to correlate to you.  So, if it’s three paces, for me, that’s a 9 foot putt (3 steps/yards X 3 feet in a yard = 9 yards).
  2. I stand behind the ball.  Sometimes I bend down a little if I’m struggling to see the line, but I don’t do that whole crouch down, peek with my dominant eye, switch to my non-dominate eye, wonder (hopefully not out loud) which one really is my dominant eye.  There is no “paralysis by analysis”.
  3. I visualize the ball’s path to the hole.  This one was ground-breaking to me, and I learned it from a video game (a fraking video game!).  Disney Golf, for the PlayStation 2 to be exact.  Seriously, when my putting’s on fire, it’s like I see that rainbow-colored line leading from my ball to the hole.
  4. Still standing behind the ball, I take a few practice strokes… but not too many.  If I’m really en fuego, I might not take any practice strokes!
  5. From there I set up to the ball, get comfortable, then let it go.  A simple rocking of my shoulders is all I need.

Notice I don’t look at a putt from all angles.  That’s more information than I want to process.  If I’m really having a hard time seeing the line, I just watch my playing partner(s) putts.  It’s not too hard to figure out (or confirm what you’re thinking) from there.

Any chips/pitches you make to the green should also be noted, if they roll close to the hole.  Some get frustrated and look away… but if they watch the roll-out, they can get a good idea of how to stroke their putt, which increases their chances of saving a good score.

Really, my routine doesn’t take a long time to complete.  It took me longer to type all of it out than it does for me to actually do it!  I average 1.8 putts a round, according to my golf GPS/scorecard app, so I feel it’s working out alright.  Which brings me to my next point:

There’s no reason to read a putt for more than a minute.

I’ve mentioned it earlier: Paralysis by Analysis.  It can be a killer.  More often than not, your first instinct will be good.  Spend too much time on it and you begin to let self-doubt, negativity, and uncertainty creep in.  None of that is good for sound putting (or golf in general, for that matter).

 

I love myth-busting, even if they’re about putting.  I know that many have come from long ago, when people didn’t exactly understand what was happening.  Some of the experts, the players, get them wrong because they know what they feel, yet don’t exactly know what they do.  There are some pretty good ones out there, but here are a couple that I’ve personally come to laugh at:

1. Set Your Eyes Over the Ball.  Um… no.  If you do that, you’re going to be hunched over.  Your elbows will be jutting out.  Uncomfortable.

Stand taller, athletically.  Bend your knees a little, with the arms hanging freely down.  You’ll find that your eyes will be inside the ball… and you’ll be able to see the line better.

2. Use a <Insert Certain Type of Putter Design HERE> to Lower Your Score.  Again, no.  Maybe in a controlled setting, or if a certain player switches from their current (read: horribly mismatched) “gamer” to another type that’s more suitable to their stroke.

But that’s the key: GET FITTED, even for your putter.  I know a guy that isn’t a bomber, but from the whites can break 90 (pretty good, for only playing once a week and a small handful of scrambles in the summer) using an old putter that looks like a delofted 1 iron.  In short, it fits his stroke.  Get a putter you like to look at, that you can afford, and get it fitted.

How to Putt 2

You need to consider the loft, length, the grip (size and material) and overall weight.  The head shape, whether the shaft’s stepped or stepless, or whatever cosmetics is purely up to you and your personal preferences.

Loft: if you like to use a forward-press, where the hands are a little ahead of the clubhead at address, you might want to stay away from putters with less than 4* of loft.  If your hands are behind the ball at address, think about using less than 4* of loft.

Length: For a long time, putters used to only come in 35″ lengths off-the-rack.  Times, thankfully, have changed… but three options still might not be enough.  I don’t want to sound like I’m ripping on any company for “only” offering three lengths.  Far from it: hopefully you’ve been reading GLG for some time, and know that there are so many different body types and posture positions, which means we need more than three options for everyone.  But it is a nice gesture; at least they’re trying to accommodate a lot of people in that area.

Grip Size/Material: not everyone fits into those super-slim “pistol” style putter grips.  As a refresher, this is what I like:

putter

It’s the SuperStroke 3.0.  I have bigger hands, and the bigger diameter fits them nicely.

As an aside, I’m going to blame all of my miss-spelled words (and some of the grammatical errors) with this blog on my beagle paws hands.  But I digest…

Here are the grips on my alternate putters, the ones I’ll game if my putting feels off, or my “gamer” starts to misbehave:

SuperStroke 5.0
The SuperStroke “Fatso”, 85 grams
Black Widow grips
My other alternate gamer, a Black Widow “Widow Maker”  It’s labeled “midsize”, but it’s slimmer than the SuperStroke.

If you can’t tell, all three are fairly distinct from one another.  The Black Widow is the smallest (labeled a “midsize”), the 3.0 is in the middle, and the Fatso is the largest.

That’s where it’s at: there’s no “ideal” anything; just find something that feels good in your hands.  If you’re curious, I use the Fatso-gripped putter when my hands are hurting; I don’t have to use as much grip pressure.  I use the Black Widow-gripped putter when I’m mad at the SuperStroke-gripped putter.  Seem facetious, but sometimes a putter’s gotta be put in timeout when it doesn’t do what you tell it to.  It’s also for when I start to lose the feel for my gamer;  the head shape is similar, but the weight, length and grip are different.  After a round or two with it, I’m ready to go back to the gamer.

If paying $20+ for a grip ain’t your thing, no problem; there’s still plenty of other options.  I really like the Black Widow brand, and the Widow Maker is a pretty good deal for a bigger grip at less than $10.  Don’t forget to check out Ebay, as well.

Weight: The weight of the putter should also be considered.  Not so much the swing weight, but the overall weight.

Personally, I like a fairly heavy putter.  That’s why I use heavy shafts and grips, and add weight to the head.  You may like a lighter putter; again, there’s no “right” or “wrong”, only what feels good to you.  For me, the heavier putter (and the bigger grip) allows me to take my hands out of the equation.  The only thing that drives the putting motion is the bigger muscles in my shoulders, back and torso.  For some, they putt better with their hands; for them, a lighter putter might be the answer.

What about a Counter-Balanced Putter?

There’s something that needs to be said about counter-balanced putters.  When a putter is “counter-balanced”, there’s extra weight in the grip area.  The thought is, having more weight in the hands gives the golfer more control over the putter’s face.  That may or may not be true… I’ve seen both pro and con arguments that both make sense.

The act of counter-balancing is making some headway.  Jack Nicklaus used to counter-balance all of his clubs, and he’s now a spokesman for a grip company that has a grip model with extra weight in the butt area.  Just remember: just because Jack (or Tiger, or <insert professional golfer here>) did something, doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone.  There’s nothing wrong with experimenting, however…

My Final Thought on How to Putt

When we talk about how to putt, I hope you noticed that there is a little more to it than just walking up and making a stroke:

  • There’s the things you can do before you ever step onto the green, which will put you into a good starting position, and
  • The things you can do right before making your stroke.

It all adds up.  One last note: don’t get down on yourself.  Negativity breeds poor outcomes.  Tell yourself that you’re the best putter, tell yourself you WILL make this putt.  It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not- tell yourself that anyway.  The more positive vibes you can create, the better!

 

What do you game?  Do you have more than one putter that gets a turn in the bag?  What do you like or don’t like about it/them?  Let me know in the comments!

>