Develop A Practical Putting Pattern
By: Bob Burns
Almost half the strokes or more of any average golfer are recorded on the putting green, yet oddly, when most golfers practice golf, they do so mostly at the driving range with a driver. The easiest way to cut any golfer's score is simply to learn to putt better.
Although putting style is quite a personal matter to some extent, there are certain fundamentals that must be learned and observed if one hopes to putt consistently.
There are many variations of grips, even among the pros, but the most widely used and recommended is the standard overlapping grip with fingers of the right hand gripping the club. There are three broad categories in gripping pressure. The golfer may choose to use a loose grip, a lighter grip, or a tight grip. In my opinion, a loose grip doesn't give enough control and the club may slip in the golfer's hands. A tight grip produces tension and causes over-control which will reduce distance, especially on longer putts. The ideal pressure is light-to-give control, maximum feel, and freedom of motion during the stroke.
Anatomically and mechanically, the best position of the hands should be for them to face each other squarely. If the club were to be removed, the hands would lay face-to-face as if in prayer.
There are variations with the stance position as with the grip. The standard square stance, however, seems to be the most advantageous for most golfers. In the square stance, the feet, hips and shoulders are all parallel to the intended line of putt. It might be well to distribute the weight predominantly on the front foot (left foot for right handers), as this will prevent swaying or moving. The most important thing in the stance, whichever style you use, is that you do not move while stroking the ball.
Once you set up over the ball, with the prescribed grip and a square stance, all that remains is to place the putter face squarely behind the ball—at a right angle to the chosen line—and to swing the putter head back and through along that line. Ideally, your club head should feel as if it is accelerated during the forward stroke. You should feel that the club is picking up speed gradually as it moves into and through the ball. One of the most common causes of feeble putting is taking too long of a back swing and then decelerating the putter head prior to impact. Swing the club head only with your hands and arms, never use your legs or hips or move your head. We are trying to build a simple stroking pattern with a minimum of extraneous movement.
Remember that your goal is to create repetitious patterns that will develop confidence. You should experience the visual and physical reactions of seeing and feeling successful putts. Through practice, this will eventually become habitual in your muscle memory.