Basic Elements of Putting

by Gord Percy, CPGA Head Professional, Carleton Golf & Yacht Club

Every time I see a top professional putt it reminds me how basic their great putting strokes are.  To have a simple repeating stroke you must adhere to a few straightforward fundamentals.  No matter what style you use (conventional, cross handed, long, belly, claw etc.) incorporate these three basic elements and practice regularly.

1.       AIM THE PUTTER CORRECTLY

As easy as this may seem almost everyone (including pros) has difficulty aiming.  Firstly you need to practice aiming not only to become more accurate but also to develop consistency.  To do this use a friend or use an item that has 90 degree angles that allows you to put the leading edge of the putter against it and to aim it (i.e. ruler or 2X4).  Additionally use the logo (or draw a line) on the ball as an alignment tool.  Secondly certain putter styles, lengths and hosel positions can make you aim differently so always try them out before you purchase!

2.       STABILIZE YOUR BODY

All top putters have mastered the element of keeping the body stable when putting.  The two things that stand out on great putters is that their head stays extremely still and your lower body does not move.  For most golfers both of these basic rules get broken and lead to rotation of the body and therefore the clubface of the putter.  This makes it impossible to hit putts on line or in a reliable manner.  Rotation leads to extra power so it becomes difficult to control distance.  For practice think of your legs being frozen in place and don’t let yourself peek up until the ball is well gone.

3.       CONSISTENT ROUTINE

All great putters through history have had a routine.  This allows you to consistently prepare for each stroke physically and also mentally.  Here is an example of a good routine that you can use and refine to your liking.  After reading your putt and deciding on a line to stroke the ball – (1) take a practice stroke looking at the hole feeling the length of stroke you need to achieve the required weight and then repeat without looking at the hole seeing the ball roll perfectly in your mind (2) carefully aim the putter to a specific spot with full confidence and then stroke the ball focusing again on pace.  Commit to your routine and to your stroke that you have practiced.

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