Set Up
Weight should be evenly distributed between your feet. Do not lean one-way or the other.

Stance should be about shoulder width apart. Don’t use an open or closed stance. Your feet should be parallel to your target line. I prefer the feet perfectly square and not toed in or toed out. You will see an example in the picture on the right. This will make it easier to get a consistent ball position.

If you notice in the picture the face on the putter is in the exact middle of the stance. That places the ball position slightly forward in the stance. Placing the contact point exactly in the center of the stance makes it possible to perform a consistent swing arc (see technique).

The hands should place the shaft exactly vertical in the set up. Most putters are designed with four degrees of loft. Placing the shaft vertical will make it possible to contact the ball with four degrees of loft at impact. High-speed video has found that four degrees loft will get your ball rolling on its intended line the quickest.

One of the most important things in the set up is the hands must hang below the shoulders. If your hands are reaching out you will tend to bring the putter too far to the inside on the takeaway and you will tend to push your putts. If your hands are too close to the body and not under the shoulders you will tend to take the putter outside on the takeaway and end up pulling a lot of your putts.

The distance from the ball is going to be determined after you get the hands under the shoulders. That should place the eyes over the ball or slightly to the inside. Many good putters have their eyes slightly inside the ball. It is not recommended to get your eyes out over your ball or target line.

Grip is very personal. One thing that is important is the hands are opposite each other with the palms facing each other. Grip pressure for most is about a five on a scale from one to ten (one is barely holding on and a ten is a death grip).

Technique
The length of the back and forward swing will be equal. This will give you
consistently acceleration in the stroke.

Length of stroke will help determine distance. The bigger the stroke the
farther the ball will go.

The speed of the stroke will vary slightly with the length of the putt. On longer putts it will take a slightly faster stroke and short down hill putts may require a slightly slower stroke. Think about a down hill three footer and an uphill forty footer. The speed of your stroke will change quite a bit. We don’t have one speed and then just vary the length of the stroke. This is what we call feel.

I feel the secret to good putting is to swing the hands, which are placed directly below the shoulders, straight back and straight through along the toe line. Your toe line should be parallel to your target line if you are set up correctly. This swinging of the hands straight back and straight through will make the putter head slightly arc in relation to the target line. It will appear to come slightly inside the target line on the back swing and slightly inside on the follow through. Notice on the right the putter has swung to the inside on the follow through. We have all been told at one time or another to swing the putter head straight back and straight through. To do this we must make the hands go away from the body on the back swing and the follow through. That is actually unnatural and I feel it is very hard to perform consistently.

There is a training aid on the market that works on this concept of swinging the putter on a slight arc. It is called a Putting Arc. It is a guide to help your putter swing on the proper path. I suggest using it for practice swings and then hitting six footers with the heel of your club running along the device. Then hit some putts with your club one inch from the arc and make sure your club is swinging parallel to the Putting Arc.

You must consistently hold the finish in the follow through. That will insure you are consistently following through. Some people draw the putter ball right after impact. That pops the ball and does not put a good roll on the ball.

After you hold the finish on the follow through you should just swivel your head to watch the ball go into the hole. Standing up to watch the ball right away will cause you to miss hit the ball. I love to think, “Hit it, Hold it, Swivel the head.”
Routine
You will sometimes make your best reads of the green when you are just approaching the green. You should look for the general contour of the green by running your eyes around the collar as you are walking on the green. You will be able to find the high and low points on the green.

If you are not the first to putt on the green you must pay attention to others as they are putting. You should look for break and speed as their ball is rolling toward the hole.

You should always walk to the halfway point of your putt on the low side. This will give your brain a chance to register the distance of the putt. Look at the ball and then the cup and take in the distance and the amount of up or down slope. You should also do your house cleaning (fix ball marks and pick up loose impediments).

When you return to the ball to start the process of hitting the ball I ask myself one more question, “Is the cup above or below my feet?” This helps you sense how much slope you must factor in when preparing to stroke the ball at the proper speed.

You should squat down behind the ball to get one last read before you step up to hit the ball.

I like to look at the cup and I try to tell if one edge of the cup is higher than the other. The ball should want to break toward the low side.

You should visualize the path of the ball going into the hole. Remember every putt is a makeable putt.

Some people like to use a line or label on the ball to help them line the putt towards the target. This is extremely helpful on longer putts where misalignment is magnified. It gives you confidence you are lined up correctly. Notice how particular Tiger is about the placement of the ball on the right.

You now must be committed to a spot you are going to hit the ball. All your focus should now be on that spot from now on.

When you start your practice swing you should have the putter two inches inside the ball. You should make your practice swing looking at the spot you have chosen to aim at and not the ground below. This will give you feel on how hard you should stroke the putt. The length and speed of the stroke should be the same as if you are hitting the ball into the hole. Two practice swings should be max.

Set up to the ball and look at the spot you want to hit the ball a couple times and stroke the putt picturing the spot in your mind. You will be looking at the ball when you hit your putt.

Putting Drills
Someone once told me that if you want to be a good golfer you should always start at the putting green when you arrive at the course and finish there before you leave.

Don’t spend a lot of time practicing putts that are six to eight feet in length. We expect to make these putts, but the PGA Tour average from six to eight feet is about fifty percent. When you think your putts should be going in and you are only making about half of them you will lose a lot of confidence.

Do practice putts from four feet and in. This is a distance that is very important. If you practice them often you will gain a lot of confidence because the percentage you will make will be very high. That will lead to more confidence when it counts most, on the course. Most tour players hit a couple hundred of these a day. That is why they are almost automatic. Tell yourself you have to make ten in a row before you leave and that will simulate the pressure you will feel in that next big match. Phil Mickelson has to make 100 three footers before he leaves the green.

A great drill on the putting green is to putt with your dominant hand only. If you are right handed than stroke your putts with just your right hand. This helps instill a feeling of acceleration through the putt, which is absolutely critical for creating a smooth, end-over-end roll. Rear-arm putting accomplishes this largely due to the weight of the putter. With two hands it’s easy to manipulate the club and make jabbing or decelerating strokes. But with one hand on the club, you don’t have the coordination or strength to manipulate the putter.

You should putt with a chalk line or a string suspended above the target line. Practice with this drill from inside five feet. This is an excellent time to gain confidence you swinging the club correctly back and through. When you practice this from time to time you will doubt less when you miss a putt that your stroke is all screwed up. The putter face being miss-aligned at impact causes most misses. What influences your alignment at impact mostly is aim. This drill will actually train your brain to align the putter more consistently.

The best drill to gain feel for distance is to practice putting looking at the hole. Let your eyes tell you how hard to hit the ball. You will be very surprised how well your distance control will become. Hitting it on the sweet spot of the putter will require you keep the head still while stroking the ball. It will also be difficult if you break the wrists in your stroke. This drill will help your pre-shot routine because during the pre-shot routine you should be taking your practice stroke looking at the hole.


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