I have seen putting described as many different things from “the simplest part of golf” to “a game within a game”. Whatever way you see and approach putting could be completely different to your golfing buddies. Just watching golf at any level we see many unique styles adopted. Despite the various methods used I think of putting as trying to control 3 elements
– Green Reading
– Pace control
– Direction control
It is how we achieve these controls that becomes the individual preferences. Below I have put a few tips you can try that may help your putting.
Top hand grip
Particularly for those who have a more conventional grip (RH – left hand at the top) this can be a useful way of helping to keep the clubface square at impact and make the hand a little less twitchy. I also like the idea of leading with the left hand in putting. Simply point the back of your left hand towards the target and make sure place the grip down the part of your palm where your life line and fate line meet.
Look at a spot – not the whole ball
A lot of golfers stare at the ball too long at address, this can lead to getting what is sometimes referred to as “brain-locked”. What is likely to be happening is your brain is becoming too active and is trying to take in too much information from your eyes. Using a marker place a small dot on the ball and position it so it is between the top and the back of the ball, this will give you something more specific to focus on but remember you ideally don’t want to be looking at this for much more than 2 seconds. If you notice you are looking down longer than this, get into the habit of taking your gaze back to the hole before going back to the spot on the ball. Or you can try looking at a spot just in front of the ball on your target line and rolling the ball over that spot. You can practice this by using a small marker on the ground in front of the ball when you practice. This helps gets you thinking about the target line instead of the stroke.
Work on your reading
When thinking about green reading we tend to focus on directional breaks rather than distance. A lot of golfers apparently have a minor ocular flaw which tends to lead to depth deficiency and in most cases players will perceive the location of the hole as closer than it is. One of the simplest things you can do is judge the distance from the side of the putt and not from just behind the ball. Another consideration in reading putts is to look at your putt from the low point. In other words if you have an uphill putt look at it from behind the ball and if you have a downhill putt look at it from behind the hole. The rationale here is similar to reading a book or magazine, if you tilt it away from you the words become blurry. One more thing to note on reading greens is an American magazine recently did a survey and found that 65 % of golfers under read their putts. I think it’s worth asking yourself if you’re like one of these golfers.
Paul Thompson, Fellow PGA Professional, Powerscourt Golf Club