Improve Golf Putting Technique with These 4 Easy Tips
A Stellar Golf Putting Technique is Less Complicated Than You Think. Try These 4 Foolproof Tips and Find Your True Potential on the Green.
If you’ve been trying to improve your golf putting technique, you are probably drowning in conflicting advice and contradictory opinions. Putting seems like such a simple motion, but once you start digging deep, you discover it’s a tremendously technical skill. And the “insights” others offer you can be complicated and confusing.
Don’t worry. I’m going to help simplify your putting practice by zeroing in on four extremely basic techniques that can have a major impact on your putting.
I’ll also share one of my favorite putting drills. It’s a drill I use with all of my students, from beginner golfers to touring professionals. This exercise is surprisingly effective for how easy it is to do.
So if you’ve been struggling to master the green, hang in there. The solutions are not as complicated as you thought. Just try these four tips, and you’ll be rolling the rock and making more putts before you know it.
Tip #1: Correct the Length of Your Putting Stroke
When I talk about the length of your stroke, I’m referring to the distance the putter head travels both back from the ball and forward towards the target.
Now, the ideal overall length of the stroke depends on how far you want the ball to travel. If you have more distance to cover, you want a longer stroke. If you’re close to the hole, you want to keep that stroke nice and short.
So the total length varies depending on the shot. However, one aspect of stroke length is consistent no matter what.
In every putt you make, the putter head should travel the same distance back and forward. Many beginners tend to be shorter on the back stroke and longer on the forward stroke. This results in less control over the ball.
Now, to get that nice, even stroke for a nice, even roll, I like the Rimer Short Game Trainer. This is a super simple training aid consisting of an alignment ruler and a sliding chip. (Side note: The Rimer can also be used to master chipping and ball position.)
Here’s how you can use this trainer to practice stroke length:
- Take your golf putting stance with the short game trailer on the ground in front of you, running parallel to the path of your stroke. The ball should be between your feet and the Rimer.
- Position the sliding chip in the very center of the alignment ruler, and be sure the trainer is positioned so that the chip lines up with your golf ball.
- As you make your putt, watch the alignment ruler to be sure your putter head moves an equal distance forward and back. For example, if your stroke travels all the way to the end bracket on the back of the trainer, you want the putter head to then move to the opposite bracket on the front of the trainer—no more and no less.
If you take the time to practice putting this way with different stroke lengths, you’ll get the feel of an even stroke in your body. You’ll also gradually train your eyes to measure distances better, which make a huge difference on the green.
Tip #2: Check Your Ball Position
You may already know that a solid putt requires hitting the ball on a slight ascending motion. But knowing this doesn’t make it easy to execute. The arc of a putting stroke is already pretty minimal, and it’s hard to control your stroke to make sure it hits the ball at the exact right moment.
The good news is, you don’t have to manage the timing of impact with your stroke. It’s more about positioning the ball correctly in your stance so that your putter inevitably makes contact at the right time.
So where do you want the ball?
As we discussed, your putter stroke should be nice and even, with the low point in the center of your stance. With this in mind, you want to position your ball just forward of center. That ensures you’ll make contact just as your putter face is on its way back up.
Now, “slightly forward of center” isn’t the easiest position to visualize. This is where the Rimer Short Game Trainer comes in. Use the slider to indicate where forward-of-center is, then line your ball up with the arrow. Again, this is an excellent tool for training your eyes. With consistent practice, you’ll get better at visualizing exactly where in your stance that perfect position is.
Tip #3: Control the Shape of Your Stroke
Before we dig into the shape of your stroke, let me clarify what I mean by “shape.”
Imagine the underside of your putter head sprays paint directly onto the ground as you putt. The line it draws on the ground is the shape of your stroke.
Now, when it comes to shape, there is some difference of opinion. Some people believe the putter should travel in an arc. This means that paint line would be a little more in towards your body at the back end of your stroke, curve out so that it’s square with the ball at impact, then curve back in on the forward end of the stroke.
Others believe that the ideal shape of a putting stroke is a simple straight line, back and through.
I personally have found that either one works great, but only if you have control of it. If you want to putt with an arc shape, it needs to be an even arc. If you like a straight line, it needs to be straight as an arrow and aligned with path you want for your golf ball.
Once again, the Rimer Short Game Trainer works great for this. Use it as a ruler to help visualize your stroke shape. Having a straight line in your setup helps you better recognize if, when, and how your shape is veering off course.
Tip #4: Keep Your Head Steady
I’d be willing to bet you’ve heard this tip before. One of the most common putting tips out there is to hold your head position. When you rotate your head, you shift your body position and compromise your careful and deliberate setup. This results in a less controlled (and less successful) putt.
Now, I’ve said before that one of the 5 essential keys to putting setup is to position the ball below your lead eye. To get in the habit of keeping your head steady through your entire putt, give yourself a second focal point by using the Rimer. Line the slider arrow up with your ball. Instead of following the ball with your eyes after impact, hold your focus on the arrow. That ensures a steady head.
Bonus Tip: The Look Away Drill
If you take some time to practice all four of the previous tips, I guarantee you’ll start sinking more putts and feeling more confident on the green.
That said, I would like to throw one more trick into the mix. This is a super easy drill that I use with all my students, from beginner golfers to touring professionals. In over two decades as a PGA instructor, I’ve found this to be the golden putting drill for almost everyone.
It’s called the Look Away Drill, and all you need is your putter, your golf ball, and a penny. You can also use the Rimer Short Game Trainer to help with ball position. Here’s how the drill works:
- Take your regular putting setup.
- Place the penny on the ground 8-12 inches behind the ball.
- Make your putt. At impact, look back at the penny and keep looking until you think the ball has reached the cup.
Believe it or not, this drill serves multiple purposes. It helps you keep your head centered, keep your body centered, hit the ball in the center of the face, and put a good roll on it. You may be a bit thrown by the counter-intuitive motion of looking away from the target, but after few tries, I promise you’ll start to see smoother putts.
Improve Your Golf Putting Technique: A Quick Review
As surprisingly complicated as putting can be, some of the most effective solutions come down to minor adjustments. Check your technique to make sure it includes the four following tips:
- A stroke that is the same distance both back and through.
- Ball position just forward of the center of your stance.
- A controlled stroke shape, whether it’s a straight line or a gentle arc.
- Steady head position.
It’s true that putting is far more technical than it looks. But that doesn’t mean you need professional-grade skills to start landing more putts. (Although you can find a few pro-level tips here.)
Stick with it, be open to making a few changes, and I promise you’ll see the difference in no time.
What Are Your Favorite Golf Putting Tips?
Is there anything here you disagree with? Any tips you feel should have been included? Was this helpful?
Whatever you’re thinking, think it out loud. Join the discussion in the comments below.
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What about a right handed putter with a dominant right eye? How should head and eyes be aligned?
Great question! Our experience has found that the dominant eye does have some importance when positioning the ball. There is no hard fast rule for everyone. Our suggestion, move the ball slightly forward maybe half a role and see how it goes. This would be a good place to start. Thanks for the question.