Golf can be a frustrating game. The best way to improve your score is to improve your putting. Remember that a 3-foot putt counts the same on your score card as a 300-yard drive.
Putting accounts for approximately 40% of all shots taken on the golf course. As a golf professional, I think it is interesting that putting instruction accounts for less than 10% of all golf lessons even though it is the most important shot in the game.
What can you do to improve your putting this year?
It is important to know your dominant eye when aiming the putt. All aiming decisions need to be done behind the ball with your eyes level. Left-eye dominant golfers tend to aim left of the target and should play the ball more back in their stance. Conversely, right-eye dominant golfers tend to aim too far right and should move the ball forward in their stance.
Once you are astride the ball, you should keep your dominant eye behind the ball when setting up for the putt.
Reading greens is an art and a science. A good system for reading a putt is to think of a clock. You need to read the green from 12 o’clock behind the hole first. This will help you determine if the putt is uphill or downhill.
Next you have to look at 3 and 9 o’clock from the sides of the hole. Determine the low side of the hole and then walk back behind the ball, which is 6 o’clock. Always aim to the high side of the hole and let the slope take the ball to the hole.
To ensure more accuracy, a good method for aiming is to put a line on your ball and aim the line to where you want the putt to start. It is important to do this from behind the ball and not from astride.
Distance control is more important than accuracy. If you want to improve your putting, you need to get your first putt within a 3-foot radius of the hole. In order to do this, you need to focus on distance control. If you can control the speed of your first putt, you should have a manageable second putt.
Get a metronome and find your best tempo. There are free downloads for your phone. Start at 76 beats, since that is the average tempo of good golfers. Count one-two along with the metronome and keep this tempo for all of your putts. The only thing you change is the length of your stroke back and through the ball.
To be a good lag putter, you need to use the big upper body muscles in the shoulders and arms and not the “fast twitch” muscles in the wrists and hands.
Get your arms “connected” to your body. Feel like your elbows are into your rib cage and that the shoulders and arms swing the putter back and through.
You must also keep your lower body quiet throughout the stroke. Finally, make sure that your eyes are over the ball.
It would also be a good idea to take that much-needed putting lesson in 2022.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Pinecrest Golf Club. firstname.lastname@example.org; golfdoctorjean.com