The art of putting
BEFORE I start on putting, a clarification on the chipping article as pointed out by some of the players at my club.
Thanks Barry, the comment about using a pencil under a wrist strap to help straighten the wrist is only to be used when practising, as when playing it would be construed as an aid and therefore have the player disqualified.
There is probably no sound more joyous to a golfer than that of a ball falling into the putting cup on the green; it’s like a symphony played by an orchestra of fine musicians as ones ears and mind goes off into the realms of fantasy at hearing it.
Alas, it’s also one of the most elusive sounds for a lot of players who can get on the green in regulation or close to regulation only to three or four putt sending ones sense of humour out the door and dark clouds of angst hanging over one’s head.
Putting is met with a great deal of awe, as heard on most courses, even when professionals play and the ball refuse to do what it is supposed to do as the collective audience of players and spectators draw their breath in an audible “AWE” as the ball lips the hole, stops tantalisingly short, goes past the hole without even coming near the hole, seems to be about to fall in and then does a lap of honour, and finally decides to skip out and stop mere centimetres from the destination it was intended for.
There have been as many hints and tips on putting as there are different putters, from broomstick to ones carved from a solid block of brass to ones that look like they are rocket propelled and the list goes on, but each and every player deciding that his or her putter is the one to do the job.
Some have perfectly normal grips that came with the putter and others have changed to thicker grips to give more stability for the hands as they grip it.
Well, here’s something that may astound, but it’s not the putter but the person doing the putting that is the sole arbitrator of where the ball goes and its technique that provide the desired outcome.
Putting is the most personal part of the game and it’s quite amazing to see the various stances that people adopt from straight backed to the Quasimodo look and everything in between, and there is no hard and fast rule as to this question, just what feels comfortable to the player.
When you watch professionals putt, it looks like an art compared to the strokes of your high handicap buddies.
If you watch most people on the putting green at your local golf club you will see the two main flaws most people make when they are putting:
* Their putter looks like it is being "yanked" back and through. Slow and steady for a smooth putt.
* They lift their head to watch the golf ball as soon as or even before they make contact with the ball. The idea is to keep your head down until the stroke is completely finished and the ball is well on its way.
While practice may not sound as much fun as playing a round of golf, what I’ve found is that practice actually makes your next round of golf much more fun because you can see if all that hard work on the practice range pays off.
Now, I know that in friendly games of golf, those 300mm to 600mm putts are often conceded by your golf buddies.
But, what happens if you get into a local tournament and you actually have to make those putts?
Yep, you guessed it… the knees might shake a little, and you might have negative thoughts in your head as you stand over the putt.
It’s pretty clear that you need to build confidence in your stroke so that you can sink 100% of those short putts.
Missing them can cost you the hole, or even the match. To practise hitting putts while allowing the club to swinging on its natural path, consider a set-up I have mentioned here.
In practice only, happy Barry, take two sticks and lay them on the ground so that the ends of the sticks point towards the hole, wide enough for your putter to travel inside.
Take the ball and set it up inside the sticks and using the sticks as a guide bring the putter back and forwards, which in reality like a pendulum with the top of the backswing and the top of the fore swing almost equal in height and with the bottom of the swing at the place of contact with the ball parallel to and without touching either of the sticks, this makes sure that your swing is correct without taking the club back in an ark across the ground.
To make sure your putter is making square contact with the ball place two tees in the ground on either side of the ball so that contact is made with the ball and the tees at the same time.
If your putter, on contact with the ball, hits only one tee then you are not hitting the ball square causing the ball to go left or right. Hit both tees and the ball will go where you aim.
An easy way to practice at home is to get on a carpeted area of floor and using the skirting board as a guide just swing the putter back and forward keeping the club parallel to the skirting.
Or place two strips of tape on the floor and use that as a guide.
Keep the arms and hands rigid and don’t allow the wrists to break as this will also affect the ball and stroke.