Practice and Drills - watch out for added drills, exercises and updates from PuttingSmart.
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Henry Cotton said: 'Every shot counts. The three-foot putt is as important as the 300-yard drive'
It is amazing how much you can improve your putting by regularly making the stroke and working to refine consistency.
Pros practise and swap tips before each tournament. They need to be comfortable with their putter, confident with their stroke and gauge the feel of the local greens on the tournament day.
Spend about 10 minutes on the practice green before your tee off.
Set aside a regular practice slot for your putting practice each week. You need to practise:
- short putts and long putts
- uphill putts and downhill putts
- putts breaking from the left, and the right
- technical skills, maybe using training aids, to hone a sound, automatic, effortless stroke
- targeting skills to include visualisation and develop 'feel' without conscious thought and practice the prep-rep
Make sure you are free from distraction and practice with intensity to engrain your methods. Cultivate a determined attitude towards improvement. You can have fun with golf games and challenges (see below) as a round off to your practice session.
You can try all sorts of visual tricks and 'feel' gizmos to try to ensure consistency and confidence....or just plain and simple practice of differing lengths of putt.
This is a raised string practice with the shaft touching along the line to ensure the putter head travels towards the target.
Another linear putting aid - simple but effective.
*PRO ADVICE - From the putting green
On Plane Putting from Ray Carrasco - 3 times winner on the European Senior Tour.
Watch this practice aid tip for cold, wet Winters. Charles Giddins, former tour player and golf teacher shows us how to easily roll them in.
Here is a spring-loaded ball returner to aid practice. It fits into a regular hole and can be turned to return the ball to wherever you are standing. It is fun and encouraging to use, preventing you having to walk up to the hole and bend down to pick your ball out after each putt. Thus you can practise rolling the same putt into the hole over and over!
Zen-I-golf developed a putting training aid which encourages a smooth roll of the ball. It fits onto the front of your own putter and enables you to get the feel of rolling the ball.
You are encouraged to roll smoothly and low through the putt with this Zen trainer.
This is a mirrored putting system mirror by Eyeline which enables you to practise consistency in your stroke and helps with visuality. Demonstrated by tour pro, Bob Cameron.
Arms working together - a rod tucked under your arms helps to keep shoulders rocking as one and reduces unnecessary body movement in your stroke.
A similar putting aid to the 'Eyeline' but with extra routing edges for the putter head to travel squarely through is this CS2 - 'consistent strike, consistent square'. Ian Poulter recommends this aid which has been out for about 3-4 years.
This is a fairly new concept which will help a great deal with your pace. It is called a 'pressure putt trainer' by puttoutgolf. For me it is not so much pressure as ideal for distance consideration and particularly lag putts. I tried it out at American Golf with one of the sales guys, Harry and it took some time to get one perfect putt between us - which I got!
If you are struggling with distance control and pace then this is the practice gizmo you should try. It is very precise and unforgiving! The repetition is good and the ball will usually come back to you if you are online so no bending down to retrieve your ball.
If you are struggling with how hard to hit your putt, this encourages you not only to line up correctly but also think about the speed of your putt.
Golfers often talk about putting with a 'rail-track' reference of straight back and through. This is not strictly correct as a subtle curve around your body actually gives a more precise track. This can be achieved with the aid of the following gizmo, The Putting Arc. Personally I prefer not to consider all the technical breakdown, but for those golfers of you who like physics I have included the image! And the edge is good to practice against.
Target Focus. Throw down a ball marker or coin about a foot ahead of your ball and putt repeatedly (about 20 times) over it. This is a good warm up and gets your eye on a target. Keep it simple as an unpressured and easy task which gives immediate positive feedback.
Round the clock. First choose a flat hole and position your ball about 2-3 feet from the hole (makeable putts), moving round at intervals as though replicating the numbers on a clock face. This should bolster your confidence with technique, feel and success. You should aim to get all twelve shots in (in a row) by the end of your practice.
To pile on the pressure now take the distance out to 4 feet, and so on. Remember you must start again if you miss one!
Next, using only four balls, at 12 o'clock, 3, 6, and 9 try changing to a hole on a slight slope which gives you the chance to practice uphill, downhill and across the slope as you work your way round the quarters on your 'clock'.
By choosing a practice hole on a slight incline you get to experience lining up from all directions with subtle slope change; a break from left and a break from right. Be aware of whether you are putting to the left or right lip, left or right half of the hole, dying the ball into the hole or rattling it to the back of the hole. Be precise and pick a specific target. Give yourself some slack - ten out of twelve is good!
Here are some Phil Mickleson statistics and ideas of how to try to replicate his skill.
*PRO ADVICE - From the putting green
Sound putting drill and advice from European Senior Tour pro, Rick Gibson, - second in 2014 Order of Merit - winner of the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open and runner-up to Colin Montgomerie in the Russian Open (Seniors):-
Increasing you confidence with distance practice is perhaps best performed in a linear way, starting from a one foot putt and moving away from the hole along the same line in one foot intervals. Be mindful of the increase of your pendulum swing as you putt out up to 12 feet. To add a little pressure to your task you must start again from one foot if you miss. Patience and rhythm help in this challenge.
Here is a practice tip using markings on the green surface. Find a fairly straight put and use the SeeMore triangulator gizmo to help mark out sharpie lines on the grass. This will help ensure that your putter face comes through squarely to the target as you strike the ball.
Longer putts you can practise without a target hole by trying to gauge distance of roll and stop your ball on the edge of the green.
When practising long putts of 20' plus to the hole, then try to extend your imaginary target to a dartboard-size circle with the hole giving you a bull's eye of 50 points. A dartboard is 'tap-in' range, and very acceptable. Distance judgement is the key to this exercise rather than holing each shot. 4 out of 5 is a good ratio to achieve.
Practice making a solid stroke with one hand at a time rather than both hands on the grip. make sure the palm of your hand or back or your hand is facing the target as you grip the putter.
Practice lining up, visualising, and then executing the shot with your eyes closed.
Putting should always be fun. A great challenge is to see how many 5-6 foot putts you can sink, at speed, in one minute. This frees up your mind and just lets you concentrate on pace.
The Quarter Game (or 20p UK/0.20 E)
I was lucky enough to join my old pro pal, Les Percevski in the Napa Valley. Everyone there is pretty laid back and no more so than at the Vintners Golf Club . Could be something to do with the grapes!
At about five in the evening we rolled up to this casual game on the neat little putting green. Anyone with a pocket full of quarters and a could join in.
We bought a drink - to blend in with everyone - and then awaited our turn for twelve or so competitors to roll their putts from a chosen spot. Simple. If you three-putted you owed everyone else a quarter. If you one-putted everyone cheered despite being obliged to give you a quarter! Then, a sup of drink and on to the next chosen putt.... There's nothing better for putting concentration knowing you could win a few quarters.
The Putter length Pull-back Game
This game helps with concentration and is fun played with a partner over 9 or 18 holes on a putting green. You putt a longish putt to a hole and if you miss you must replace your ball a putter's length further from the hole than where it landed up and then putt again from there. You aim to take no more than 2 shots(par) at each hole.
Two ball Challenge
A similar game, combining the two games described above, uses your best ball out of two. Against an opponent you can score 2 points for a hole in one and 1 point for who ever gets their ball closest. You choose longish putts and it is the first player to score 15 points who wins.
Exercise and fitness are important for any sport activity, even a relatively passive movement like putting. For putting you need to develop stability, a solid base from which to make the stroke, with a certain amount of lower and upper body separation.
This 10 minute arm workout will strengthen and relax your upper body. Afterwards you should feel energised standing over your putt and in control of your putting stroke. The breathing incorporated in these exercises - inhale and exhale - will also help you to remain calm, free and produce a smooth stroke.