Simple rules for good putting

You amateurs have no excuses for being bad putters. You could practice in your living room in the evening or on an office carpet if you wanted to. But you take putting for granted because it is often not the biggest of your worries on the course.

You are wasting a good opportunity here. It is quite easy to make some common sense adjustments to your putting stroke and knock at least five strokes off an average round.

When you think about it, your chances of hitting putt after putt consistently in the middle of the club are a great deal less if you lift the putter off the ground and open the face on the backswing.

You will also be less consistent if your putting stroke cuts across the line of the putt. One of the worst faults of all is if you have a short backswing and long follow-through so that you push, rather than hit, the ball towards the hole.

These points probably seem obvious, so why not do something about them? Go out on the practice green with a friend so that you can check each other’s stroke. And take a copy of this article with you!

Everyone can have a good day with putting but with these faults you have got to get so many things right at the same time that your good days are few and far between.

A steep backswing means you can easily either touch the ground behind the ball or top it, opening the face means you have got to get it back to the correct angle before you hit the ball and cutting across the line of the putt compounds the difficulties.

For consistent putting you need to keep the putter as close as possible to the ground at all times, keep the face of the putter at right angles to the line of putt and ensure that the putting stroke is along the line of the putt.

To hit the ball cleanly every time, you also want to check that your backswing is always significantly longer than your follow-through. Another good habit is to keep your head down after you have struck the ball (you will find out the good or bad news soon enough).

You will find that the movement has to come from your shoulders if you are to keep the face straight to the hole. Some players like to stick their elbows out to help in taking the putter back low and straight and there is nothing wrong in this.

If you are going to stray from the straight line it is far better to take the putter back on the inside, like Bobby Locke, than on the outside. The only successful tournament pro I have seen who cut all his putts was the American Vic Ghezzie (winner of the 1941 US PGA tournament), and it was not the strongest part of his game.

Remember that you have got to strike a putt properly if you are going to be consistent. You can’t get away with pushing or coaxing the ball towards the hole. Other general tips are to position yourself so that the ball is off the inside of your left foot (to help stop you swaying forward during the stroke) and to grip the club lightly so that the head of the putter does the work.

On your next round at the club, take a note of the number of putts you take. A good target is 36 or two putts a hole. A professional will aim to take 30 or less.

If you are taking more than 40 putts a round it is a sure bet that your putting stroke is faulty. You have hot to get your stroke right first and then you can put in the practice to improve your touch on the greens.

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