How to putt with precision
In the second part of our exclusive
instruction series covering the
fundamentals of the game, Lynn McCool
suggests a series of simple DIY exercises
and drills that can improve your accuracy
on the greens – and shoot lower scores...
FIND YOUR ‘CENTRE’
Balance is your foundation
to a solid, repeating stroke
Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Tiger Woods, Steve
Stricker…all great putters and while they each display a
different stroke one thing they all have in common is
that when you see them set-up to strike a putt they look
as though they could stand there all day. Their address
position looks so comfortable and stable and that’s
because they all have great balance in their feet.
Rock gently back and
forth until you find your ‘centre’ – and then
build your posture on
that perfect balance.
Either of the two extremes – i.e. weight too much on the heels
(left) or towards the toes – will jeopardise your overall balance
In contrast, poor putters can easily be identified by
their lack of balance in the set up position, their weight
often tipping their body either backwards away from the
ball or forwards towards it (illustrated below). Given the
objective of a repeating stroke is to deliver the putterface
squarely to the back of the ball along a pre-determined
line and path, the importance of balance should
be quite obvious. Without it you simply introduce another
variable that destroys your consistency.
Finding good balance is easy: take a good posture
and then ever so gently rock your body weight back
and forth until you can sense that ‘centred’ feeling in
your feet (right), your body planted securely. That is the
feeling you want as you stand over every putt – total
stability. With a balanced base the clubface is more likely
to stay online as the stroke is executed.
Feet, hips & shoulders all track the
ball-to-target line for perfect alignment
The second common fault I see all the time is poor body alignment.
Most golfers concentrate on aiming their putter correctly at their target
and fail to think about where their body is aiming. The hips really
are the indicator. If the hips are open or closed in relation to the target
line it will affect the putter face at impact leading to pulled or
pushed putts. I like golfers to address their putt with their body perfectly
square to the target and then to focus on maintaining these
parallel lines by keeping the hips still as they make their stroke.
Use a cane or an old
clubshaft to check that
a line across your hips
is square to your feet
at the set up
And then make sure
that the relationship
is kept intact throughout
A simple way to improve your body alignment is to slide a cane
or old golf shaft through your belt loops so that it follows your target
line. Get a friend to take a picture of you at address to ensure your
body lines are parallel. Then make your stroke and focus on keeping
the hips square with no rotation so that the shaft stays pointing at
the target. The shoulders should rock back and through allowing the
putter to strike the ball straight to the target.
Fault: If you address the putt with your hips and body alignment too
open or too closed the putter will have to make compensations to
follow a straight path and you’ll be prone to pulled or pushed putts.
Fix: Refer to the drill above regularly so that you keep the hips
square so that the shaft points parallel to the ball to target line
throughout the stroke.
Fault (left): with the
hips closed, the
putter can work
too much inside
the line on the
Fault (right): while a
open the hips
impact area can
cause the putter
to work left
KEEP YOUR BODY ‘CENTRED’:
And let arms & shoulders control the stroke
We all have the temptation to look up as soon as the
putt has been struck. It’s natural to feel anxious and
want to know whether the putt has dropped, but
even taking the slightest peek too soon can be
destructive. When the head turns, the body moves,
the hips open and the putter face turns.
The greatest putters are the players who trust
their stroke implicitly and don’t need to look up to
see where the ball has gone. They simply keep
their eyes down and listen for the sound of the ball
dropping at the base of the cup. A great way to
ensure your head and body stay still is to rest a
cane or shaft against each of your hips as I’m
demonstrating here. Now make your stroke and
concentrate on keeping your eyes focused on the
point where the ball was struck. The shafts should
remain in place.
Fault: Any slight body movement and the shafts
will fall to the floor – a clear indication that you
have looked up.
Heighten your sense of ‘feel’
Golfers often say to me that they struggle to judge
the pace of their putts. I explain that we all have an
inherent, in-built, feel on the greens; you just need to
learn to tap into your instincts. Part of the problem is
that we tend to practise putting towards a hole and
rarely spend any time on non-target related feel exercises.
The eyes-closed drill is a simple yet effective
way to enhance your senses. It also has an amazing
effect on de-cluttering your mind so that your brain
doesn’t interfere with your stroke.
Close your eyes and make sure your eyelids don’t
flutter (if they do it’s an indication that you’re still
thinking too much!). Now, make a practice stroke
and pay attention to the feel of the motion. Do this
for a few minutes and then add a ball. Visualise how
far you think it has rolled across the green. Then
open your eyes to see the result – how accurate
was your guess? Repeat this drill increasing the
length of your stroke, and you should have a much
greater awareness and feel for what length stroke
rolls the ball what distance.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine