There is nothing more frustrating in golf than going from birdie to bogey. Speaking from experience, and perspective of an amateur player, it just feels terrible when it happens because you feel like you just wasted a good hole.
If this is happening to you more often than you would like then it is likely that there is a major leak in your putting game that you might not be aware of.
The good news is that it actually doesn’t take much to fix some of these leaks. You can probably take at least 5 strokes off your score just by adding 1 or 2 of the tips from this article into your routine. It did for me.
After spending a lot of time watching hours of putting videos, reading other websites, analyzing my own leaks and experimenting I’ve come up with a list of what I think are the 10 most effective ways to quickly improve your putting.
Putting Tips Summarized
- Try Different Grip Techniques & Styles
- Fix Your Posture
- Using the Right Putter
- Same Speed, Different Swing
- Find a Spot in Front of the Ball
- Keep Your Putter Head Low
- Always Follow Through
- Learn to Read the Green
- Read the Hole Like a Clock
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Try Different Grip Techniques & Styles
A common mistake that people make when it comes to putting is thinking that they need to grip the putter in a certain way or use a specific style to putt correctly.
The truth is there is no right or wrong in putting when it comes to grip technique and style. It’s all about finding out what feels right and works best for you. Even professional golfers switch up their putting styles if it’s not working.
Obviously, if you’ve been playing with a conventional putting grip and it’s been working for you then there’s no need to change anything. But, if you’re struggling to find consistency with it then there might be an opportunity for you to tune your putting game by changing the way your hands grip the putter or the gripping style you use.
We’ll take a look at a couple of the most popular methods that professional golfers are using and discuss how they can help.
Reverse Overlap Grip (The Traditional Method)
This is the conventional method that you will see most golfers use. It is widely accepted among professional golfers as the standard or “right way” to grip a putter.
The reverse overlap grip is a slight variation of the same grip you would use for your full swing. The difference is that instead of overlapping your right hand pinky finger onto your left, you would place your left hand’s index finger on top of the right pinky finger (for right- handed golfers).
This technique is good if you can maintain firm and consistent grip pressure through the stroke. It gives golfers a lot of feedback and can help you maintain a more consistent feel between your full shots and putts.Here’s an instructional Video by JJS Golf on how to hold a reverse overlap grip:
This technique is also known as the “left-hand low”. It is the second most commonly used technique among top players.
The cross handed grip is essentially the opposite of your normal group. This means that if you’re a right handed golfer like me, then you would place your left hand below your right for a “left-hand low” grip.
This technique is better suited for people that have naturally open shoulders when standing (left shoulder behind right). The cross-handed set up can help level your shoulders at address, which helps keep your putter lower to the ground throughout the stroke for a straighter shot.
This grip is also good for golfers that struggle with an overactive right hand (or left if you’re left handed). It puts your dominant hand in a position where it can still power the ball through but helps make it easier to keep the clubface square since your left hand is closer to the putter head.Here’s an instructional Video by Mike Sullivan on how to hold a cross hand grip:
The claw grip is the third most common technique you will see professional golfers use on tour. It essentially removes your dominant hand from gripping the putter to prevent you from unintentionally closing the putter face.
There are several variations for how to hold a claw grip. Right handed golfers should always use their left hand to hold the putter when using a claw grip. The placement of your right hand can vary but should only be used to add a bit of stability to your stroke.
This technique can help you produce a more consistent stroke and strike if you are a streaky player. The grip position forces your upper body to become more active during the stroke which helps with your tempo and transition.Here’s an instructional Video by Today’s Golfer on how to hold a claw grip:
Fix Your Posture
Set up is everything when it comes to putting. A lot of recreational players struggle with putting because they don’t have a consistent setup.
To get better at putting you need to first establish a baseline for how you’re going to posture up to the ball and where you’re going to look each time. Once you have an idea of what that baseline feels like your goal should be to set up the same way every time. This will help improve your putting consistency.
In terms proper posture and how to set up here are some best practices to follow:
Keep Your Knees Slightly Bent
There should only be a slight bend in your knees. It is a similar stance to your regular swing except a bit taller. The weight should be on your toes as you hinge from the hips and you should feel a slight stretch in your calves, hamstrings and lower back muscles.
Keep Your Back Flat
Some golfers tend to slouch or round their backs when putting. If that sounds like you then you need to get rid of that habit. Your back should be reasonably flat in your setup. Assuming your putter is the correct length your setup should look similar to how you would set up your driver.
Keep Your Chest Up, Shoulders Back and Hang Your Arms Softly
Many golfers make the mistake of getting too close to the ball. You can easily fix this problem by keeping your chest up which will help create more space for your arms as you swing.
Using The Right Putter
Buy a putter that compliments your natural swing tendencies. This can help take several strokes off your game almost immediately. It is the quickest and easiest way to improve your performance.
There are two very common mistakes I see golfers make when buying putters. The first and most detrimental to their game is buying a putter that works against their natural tendencies. The second is buying a putter that’s either too long or too short for them. In both cases it’s making putting a lot harder for them than it needs to be.
The key to finding the right putter is to first know what your natural stroke tendencies are when putting. The best way to do this is to go into a golf store and actually get fitted for a club. A fitting can tell you things like exactly which putter heads you should be using, and the exact club length you need based on your height. It takes all the guesswork out of it.
Here is a checklist of all the specifications you can find out if you are considering getting fitted for a putter:
- Head shape
- Lie Angle
- Toe Hang
- Shaft Length
- Grip Style/ Size
- Face Material/ Texture
If you aren’t ready to buy a new fitted putter then I’d recommend at least finding a good second hand putter that is at least the correct club length for your height or has the right head shape that matches your stroke (ideally both).
Same Speed, Different Swing
Here’s a piece of advice that a friend of mine, who has been golfing for over 20 years, taught me which has really helped improve my putting.
Try to always keep your swing speed the same no matter how far away the pin is. The only thing you should adjust is how far back you pull your putter. The further away you are from the pin the further you pull. That’s it.
This tip definitely helped improve my consistency around the green. The trick is to stay relaxed when doing this and put trust into your putter. Simple.
Find a Spot In Front of The Ball
This is a good tip to try If you are a golfer that’s consistently hitting the ball off your target line.
Instead of lining your eyes to the ball at address, try adjusting your eyes to a spot just in front of the ball. Then just focus on rolling the ball over that spot. This will help you focus more on the target line rather than your stroke.
Sometimes the only thing holding you back is just a mental block and a small shift in perspective can go a long way.
Keep Your Putter Head Low
Try to make sure you are keeping your putter head low on your follow through. Hitting up on the ball will cause it to hop and you do not want that on the green. You want your ball to roll towards the pin as smoothly as possible.
Always Follow Through
Make sure you aren’t stopping the putter after hitting the ball. You always want to follow through. This will make it easier for your wrists to stay locked.
When you break your wrist too early the putter head can get ahead of your hands. If this happens you will end up sending the ball off your target line, often to the left for right-handed golfers.
Learn To Read The Green
Take your time before addressing the ball to properly read the green. Flawed reads lead to lost strokes. The perfect putting technique and all the right putters in the world can’t save you if you are constantly misreading the bumps, bends and breaks on the green.
Squat Down and Survey
Before addressing the ball take a quick squat down from a couple of feet behind the hole, and then again behind the ball to conduct a horizontal scan of the green. This is a great way to spot any slopes that you can’t see standing.
Always Read From The Low Side
This means that if the putt is going downhill then you should be reading the green from behind the hole.
The opposite is true for when you are putting uphill. The lowside in this case would be behind the ball.
Read The Green With Your Feet
This is a technique that works for golfers of every level that’s trying to avoid a 3-putt. It is a green-reading method that was developed by AimPoint. You use your feet, not your eyes, to determine the slope of a putt and then hold up your fingers to determine the correct line.Video By Sports Inc. TV & Events explaining the AimPoint green-reading method
Read The Hole Like a Clock
This is a common technique that golfers use to help them estimate where their target line should be.
Try to imagine that the hole is a clock and that the bottom facing you is your 6 o’clock. From there you should try to visualize the rest of the dial and where your entry point should be based on where you think the green breaks.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Lastly, this one should be a no-brainer but you need to practice putting. I see a lot of golfers at the range just smacking their driver and irons without ever practicing their short game. Big mistake. That’s like going to the gym each week and only doing bicep curls but expecting to get 6-pack abs. It doesn’t work.
The easiest and fastest way to improve your performance in golf is from the inside out. That means dedicating time at the range to work on things like putting and chipping instead of hammering out a bucket with your driver.
Make golfing easier for yourself and carve out time to practice with your putter.
Wrapping It All Up
There is a lot of information and debate out there on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to putting.
Just know that a strong foundation can help elevate anybody’s game quickly. All you have to do is just make sure to start off with the right equipment, adapt the proper mechanics relative to your body, and have the ability to shift perspectives to overcome mental blocks
Ultimately, getting better at putting is just about developing your feel for the game. Often, what feels right and most natural is usually what will work best for you.