COLUMN: Aim wide then give it a little tap

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Putting has never been my strong suit. People who don't golf would like to assume that putting is the easiest part, where you can gain some strokes but in reality ... putting is what tends to kill my rounds rather than make them.

One of the first things I was taught about putting was that -- above everything -- you have to take the putter back and through on a straight plane.

The length of the swing back and the speed coming through are also very important as speed and distance control seem to be what people struggle with most.

One tip to make putting easiest is to hit your approach shot in a spot that leaves you with a straight, uphill, 3 footer.

Failing that, you're going to need to get a read off the green.

Reading a green is fairly simple when you find the low side of the cup. The putt is going to turn that way but how much it turns is determined by how hard you hit it.

A ball with more speed will break less but if your goal is to shoot a low score and you're trying to let the ball fall in the hole, hit it softer and play it out to a spot for a little more break and let it trickle into the hole.

Short straight putts are more tricky than they sound. Something I like to do is use the line in my ball, point it at the hole when I place it, and use my stroke so as to make an extension of that line straight back and straight through so I don't push or pull it.

The most crucial thing that you must do in order to be a good putter is to be confident. Step up to every putt planning to make it, short or far. I struggle a great deal with this.

Putting is something that is overlooked by many (including myself) and practicing this skill doesn't always seem to happen when you have the option to go out and play instead.

But if you're waiting on the group in front of you and no one is behind you, take a few balls to the green and work on your putts from five feet.

Even doing this twice a week will be extremely beneficial.

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