Putting Distance Is Key

Distance Is Key To Good Putting

"Drive for show, putt for do ugh". Anyone that plays the game has heard that said at one time or another. Sure, it would be very impressive to hit 300 yard drives all the time. But what good would it do if, after hitting it 300 yards on a par 4 and hitting your 2nd shot on the green, it takes you three or more putts to get the ball in the hole (after all, that is the object of the game).

Par is defined on any given hole as "how many shots it should take to reach the green plus two putts". Therefore, on any 18 hole, par 72 golf course, if you play each hole the way it was designed to be played (the no. of shots it should take to reach the green plus 2 putts), you'd shoot an even par 72. Of those 72 strokes, exactly half of them would be putts. So you can see how being a good putter goes hand in hand with shooting good scores. Yet in all my years of teaching, I only had maybe a handful of golfers that scheduled putting lessons.

So let's talk about putting. There are only two things that you have to think about when it comes to putting…distance and direction. Any idea which of those two are the most important? If you said distance, you are correct.

Think about it…I could hit a relatively straight 20 foot putt directly over the hole and finish 20 feet away. Great direction…terrible distance. Most people are going to be in the ball park in relation to direction. If you take that same 20 foot putt and gave 100 golfers 1 putt each, I'd bet that all 100 golfers would be lined up either on, or close to, the correct line. Therefore, if you get the distance correct, and you don't make the putt, the worst you should be is no more than a few feet away, and a good amount of the time you'll have a tap in.

This can be accomplished any number of ways. If you play and/or watch golf on TV, you will have noticed that there are many different putter styles, and many different putting strokes. The key is to get a putter you feel comfortable with, and a stroke you feel comfortable with. You must be able to repeat that stroke over and over again.

If this is something you struggle with, try concentrating on using your shoulders to putt rather than your arms. Set the putter square to the line you want to start the ball on. Feel like your wrists are locked (this will take the hands out of the putt). Now practice taking the putter back with your shoulders and through with your shoulders. If you can learn to judge the distance using your shoulders to putt rather than your arms, your putting will become much more consistent.

Now find a flat area on a practice green, and start hitting putts from about 12 to 15 feet away. Make sure that you step away after each putt, so that before you hit your next putt, you need to set up and re-align yourself. Take note of which side of the hole your misses are on. If your stroke is consistent and your distance is good, the key to making more putts is simply to adjust your alignment (direction).

Nobody is going to purposely line up incorrectly, but sometimes our eyes can fool us. Have you ever played golf with someone who hit a tee shot in the woods, and then you or someone in the group says "that's where you were aiming" or “that’s where you were lined up”. Does anyone think for a minute that that person meant to aim in the direction of the woods? To their eye, they're lined up where they want to hit the ball. In this case, as with putting, the person needs to "re-train" their eyes as to what “looks” lined-up correctly.

So don't adjust a putting stroke that feels comfortable just because you always seem to "miss to the right" or "miss to the left". Continue doing what feels comfortable to you, and "re-train" your eyes to see the correct line.

This can be done simply by using one of your irons. Set the shaft along the line of the putt and align your feet to the shaft. At first, you’re probably not going to feel like you’re lined up on the correct line. As you start practicing like this, you'll start making more putts, and the more putts you make, the more comfortable your eyes will get being lined up on the correct line. After awhile, you'll just start aligning yourself to your target line better because you will have trained your eyes to "see the line” better.

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