We explain to the students in our program that putting should be the easiest of all the skills to learn and master and that if you wish to become a successful amateur or professional golfer you must become brilliant inside the 10 feet range.
We explain to our students that there are three abilities that you need to develop and master to become effective on the greens. These abilities are not the ones normally taught and practiced but we guarantee that they will help any golfer to become really effective on the greens.
We believe that to putt effectively and consistently there are three abilities that underpin continuous success on the putting green and we hope that after reading this article that you will work on these three abilities to greatly improve your putting.
The Three Putting Abilities
Ability # 1. Point or aim your putter accurately
Ability # 2. Start your ball where the putter is pointing
Ability # 3. Hit your putt at the ideal speed where your putter is pointing
In today's article we are going to focus on the first two abilities - aim your putter accurately, and hit your putts where you aim.
You will see that we won't discuss things like green reading or which stroke path you use, or even whether you hit your putt at the bottom of your stroke or as its moving upwards. These are certainly very important aspects of putting but we have found that without the three putting abilities none of these will help you to make continuous progress with your putting.
It's interesting that many of the things that golfers work on can actually make the putting part of the game more challenging and one such example is thinking about whether your stroke is going back and through correctly whilst you putt your ball.
Expert golfers do not spend too much time thinking about how they are stroking their putt when they are putting, rather, they think specifically about how their ball will behave on its way to the hole.
Their focus is more on where rather than how.
We call the three putting abilities - Principle Based Putting. They are simple and obvious but not practiced nearly enough.
Q1/ Do you practice aiming your putter as often as you practice hitting putts? ....Yes or No
Q2/ Do you believe that aiming your putter to where you want to putt is a skill? ...Yes or No
These are good questions because they help you to understand what you value highest in putting.
If you hit lots of putts to holes, or you work on stroke mechanics a lot, how do you know whether you are aiming your putter where you think you are?
In our experience testing many amateurs and professionals we have discovered that the majority we have tested rarely if ever practice aiming their putter to a target as a skill.
Your golf instructor can help you to determine what type of putting stroke would best suit you, but when you practice putting you need to become extremely good at aiming your putter and hitting your putts consistently where you aim.
Never assume that you aim accurately, you should practice it often!
Being able to master your aiming ability will greatly improve your confidence on the greens, but if you don't practice it then it doesn't matter how good your stroke is because the ball will not go into the hole as often as you want.
So how do you practice aiming accurately?
You should spend a block of time every week practicing and enhancing your putter aiming ability and you should do it before your practice putting to holes.
We know that as a serious golfer you know and more than likely check your aim often on long shots, but for many golfers they never think about aiming their putter the same way.
This doesn't make a lot of sense because I'm sure you will agree that aiming your putter is equally as important as aiming your shoulders, hips and feet on long shots.
Aiming your putter is quite easy to do and practice and the following simple aiming routine is the one we use with our students at Pro Tour Golf College. With this simple routine we guarantee that it will help you to improve your aiming ability so that you give yourself a much greater chance of making more putts inside 10 feet.
Aim Your Putter - Step 1.
Place a coin or ball marker on the ground which will be your target to aim at and position 5 balls around the marker from 5 feet to 10 feet on a relatively level part of the putting green.
Aim Your Putter - Step 2.
Go up to the first ball and perform your putting pre-shot routine and whilst in your set-up position and when you think the putter is pointing at the coin or ball marker move the ball out of the way and carefully place an alignment stick down from the center of the putter face at right angles to the putter face.
Is the alignment stick pointing at the marker, left or right of it?
As you perform this routine you are aiming to hit your putter as if there was no break. You are simply aiming from A (the ball) to B (the hole) with no consideration of slope.
We use a very simple home made aiming device that we attach to an alignment stick that turns your alignment stick into a very helpful and powerful training aid.
We cut a piece of 1 inch by 1 inch square dowel (wood) the length of a putter face and we drill a hole into the center of the wood the diameter of an alignment stick at right angles to the edge of the wood so we can insert the alignment stick into it as you can see in the image to the left.
When you aim your putter you place the alignment stick with the dowel attachment against the putter face so you can easily check the accuracy of your aiming ability. This simple device helps to amplify putter face misalignment better than any training aid we have used.
It is not unusual for us when testing aiming accuracy to find that an elite golfer at 5 feet from the hole can have between 3 and 6 inches of misalignment. Imagine for a moment the compensation that is required to hole a putt of 5 feet when the putter is aimed this far from the hole or target?
If your alignment stick is not aimed straight at the marker/coin then repeat the procedure from the different distances until the alignment stick is pointing to the ball marker.
This usually takes 3 to 5 attempts at each ball location.
Once you have achieved a straight alignment to the target consistently you will then need to calibrate your putting stroke to your new straight alignment.
The reason for this is that your misalignment has created an unconscious stroke compensation and now you will need to adjust your stroke to improve your ability to hit your putts where you aim.
The difference from here with our method is that we don't work on improving stroke mechanics, we work on it another way...
To calibrate your new aim with your putting stroke we use a simple putting aid we call a putting hoop which is simply a steel bracket you can buy from a hardware store that is designed to attach a drain pipe from the gutter on your roof to the wall.
You could just as easily use tees that are placed just a little wider than the width of your ball to hit your putts through.
Our goal is for you to use your authentic stroke and this simple aid to make the finite adjustments required for you to hit your putts where you aim.
Initially you will find that if you aimed away from the ball marker/coin either to the right or left of the marker that your stroke and face alignment will encourage a pull or push and your putts will hit the sides of the hoop (or tees) and provide you with the instant feedback you need to improve your ability to hit your putts where you point the putter face.
Practice hitting sets of 10 putts through the hoop or tees (without a hole initially) until you can get all 10 putts through the middle without contacting the sides. This is not as easy as it sounds.
This putter aim and stroke calibration routine is very effective at improving your precision with the aiming of your putter and combined with the putting hoop you will be able to achieve the first two abilities of aiming your putter accurately and hitting your putts where you aim.
Next week we'll share with you the third step in this process and show you how to "Hit Your Putt at the Ideal Speed Where Your Putter is Pointing" which will help you to make a lot more of the putts that can turn you from a good putter into a great one.
See you next week.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne
Your Success On Tour is Our Business