The Worst Putting Mistakes You Can Make and How To Get Better
John Daly once said he enjoyed the “aahs” from golf fans after he ripped a long drive, but was tired of the “awws” when he failed to drop an easy putt.
The funny thing about golf is each of these shots counts the same.
The big difference with putting is you will use your putter more than any club in your bag.
Putting makes up around 40 percent of all the shots you take in a day on the course.
Lack of Confidence
More than any other part of the game, putting is all about confidence.
None of the putting tips and tricks we will show you in this article will matter if you do not have the proper positive mindset needed to roll the rock in the hole.
Alison Lee is one of the top putters on the LPGA tour.
She says to create a visual in your mind of the ball rolling into the hole and dropping to the bottom.
Creativity is not just reserved for the short game and heroic 7 irons from behind a tree.
Engage your mind, and see and feel the putt rolling across the green.
Your actual putt is just a physical manifestation of the mental movie you have already programmed into your mind.
Lack of Putting Ritual
Have you ever seen a pro golfer back away from a shot in the fairway after hearing a camera go off?
They step completely out of the shot and begin their pre-shot ritual all over again.
They do that because the shot itself is just the ending of a well-planned sequence of movements they have practiced thousands of times.
Likewise, on the green you need a putting ritual as well.
The key is to repeat it exactly the same every time.
On tour, you will see some players barely glance at the putting line before they step in and quickly make the putt. Others will walk around the putting line, viewing it from every angle before settling in.
Others will look at the line as they walk up from behind, lining the putter up behind the ball.
A putting ritual is very personal.
You should do what makes you comfortable, what “feels right,” and do it every time.
You may feel that this structure and repetition will diminish your creativity.
In reality, you’ll find that the ritual relaxes you, freeing up your mind to, as Jack Nicklaus used to say, visualize your shot by “going to the movies.”
Moving Ball Position
On the course, you might move the ball around depending on the shot at hand and your club selection.
Doing that on the green will kill your consistency.
You will get a wide variety of roll speeds and spins.
Your goal is to strike the ball just as the putter is ascending from the low point in its swing, hitting the ball just beneath the center.
If you move the ball around, it will be next to impossible to replicate this striking action.
Here is one way to determine the ideal ball position if you use a straight-back-and-through stroke.
Take your putting position, line up a putt, and drop another straight down from the bridge of your nose between your eyes.
If done right, the dropping ball will hit the ball you are lining up.
If you use an arc in your putting stroke, the falling ball should land right on the putter.
Worry About Results
As you can see from our putting tips so far, a big part of success on the green comes from focusing on the process, not the outcome.
Have you ever choked on a short putt because you were worried about whether it went in or not?
Then you know firsthand the downside of thinking about results.
By the time you are lining up to take a putt, it is too late to get in any more training.
At this point, instincts will take over whether you want them to or not.
That is one reason why you practice putting so often.
The more you make the putting stroke and ritual a constant, unchanging machine, the less you will stress about the result.
You will make more putts and beat your buddies more often.
When someone tells you that you are too “handsy” with your putting stroke, it means you are allowing your hands to influence the stroke.
You try to “steer” the ball by twisting, pulling or pushing the clubface at the very last minute.
Eliminate any of these disastrous hand actions by thinking of your shoulders arms wrists and hands as a single pendulum.
After lining up properly, all you have to think about is moving the “Y” formed by your grip in smooth pendulum fashion.
There is no wrist or hand action to speak of.
Keep in mind this does not mean to grip the putter tightly with iron force.
Hold it firmly but retain your feel and touch.
Move the shoulders back and through, striking the ball cleanly and smoothly.
Consider using a mental trigger like a “one-two” count as you move the putter back and through.
Inconsistent Left Wrist
Many golfers tend to lean the putter excessively toward the hole as they wind up a putt.
Instead, focus on keeping the left wrist and the putter shaft at a consistent angle.
This may feel overly “cupped,” but it allows the putter face to stay true to the putting line.
Some instructors teach you to start the putting stroke with a mini “forward press,” which is designed to help begin the pendulum action, rather than starting from a completely still position.
Problem arise when you overdo this move and lose the angle of your left wrist.
Super Tight Grip
Why are you holding on to the putter so tight?
It’s not going to blow away in the wind.
So how firm should you hold it? It’s important to use what is comfortable, but consistent pressure is the key.
If you apply too much pressure on the top hand, you’ll tend to close the face, and vice versa if you grip too hard with the bottom hand.
Relax your arms, shoulders, wrists and fingers. Hold the putter firmly but not tightly.
Concentrate of feeling the weight of the putterhead as it moves back and forth.
It comes down to gaining control while retaining feel.
Golf instructor Glenn Billington from Boarstall, Buckinghamshire in the UK teaches that a grip pressure of seven on a scale of 1 to 10 offers the best combination of feel and control.
You’ll have to determine for yourself what number works for you, but that gives you a good starting point of reference.
Deceleration of the putter head is a common mistake you see every weekend.
If you are consistently leaving your huts short, there is a good possibility you are slowing down your forward stroke without knowing it.
You want to maintain a consistent tempo and smooth action, but the putter head should be slightly accelerating into the back of the ball.
The putter should be picking up speed as it makes contact.
Some professionals think that putter deceleration is more a matter of improving your mental game than your putting stroke itself.
The reason you may be decelerating the putter head is that you are trying to “baby” the ball into the hole, or let it “die” into the cup.
Statistics show that you will have a better roll and truer line if you strike the ball with enough force to roll it past the cup by at least 17 inches.
This prevents you from trying to hard to coax the ball into the hole, and frees you up to play with authority and confidence.
Bad Green Reading
You will be very inconsistent around the green if you are unable to make an accurate judgment of the line and speed of your putt.
Many golfers make the mistake of focusing on the area around the whole more than any other part of the putting line.
It is accurate to think that this part of the putt will affect the outcome because the ball is losing speed and is thus more influenced by the break.
But it is just as important to get a reading of the green overall, including drainage and collection areas.
It also helps to gain local knowledge as much is possible.
You’ve played courses where locals tell you the putts “break toward the ocean.” or “everything rolls away from the mountain.”
You know from experience they are often right.
In the end, the best putting tips talk about confidence.
Confidence comes from a combination of practice, ritual and lots of mental toughness.
Practice your putts to the point where your stroke is automatic.
This will allow you to concentrate on visualizing the ball making its way from your putter head to the bottom of the cup.
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