The thing about putting is that the average golfer hardly ever feels the need to practice more of it. And the logic behind why this happens is quite simple. If you’re a beginner or even a recreational player, then you take the majority of your strokes on that green, right? And whenever you practice too, you do it on the range hitting golf balls.
Whatever the case may be, it’s never a bad idea to focus your attention on putting practice. After all, the putting stroke has a very straightforward approach. And you can manage to ace it quite effortlessly, but only as long as you dedicatedly learn how to putt a golf ball (step by step).
This beginner’s guide to putting is surely put in place for helping you shave strokes off the game. What we have included is a set of the most effective drills, tips, and tricks without any oversight. And the best part about it all is that the step by step instructions are crafted for basic understanding. Meaning there’s no complicated pro-level talk here!
Putting In Golf - Step by Step Instructions to Learn the Ropes
Before you begin, you need to understand two basic concepts for easy alignment. The first is a coin and the second is a golf ball. Draw a dead-straight line across each of them by hand using a sharpie. Once these two things are in order, it’s time to get started.
1. Approaching the Green
At this point, keep it simple and begin by looking at the location of the hole and that of your golf ball. In that case, is the ball lower or higher to that pin? Is it downhill or uphill? What about after your golf ball travels past that hole - downhill or uphill then?
Let’s say you’ve got yourself an uphill putt, which is great news because this means you’re free to produce a putting stroke with more aggression. But what if it’s downhill? Then consider taking on a slightly softer approach.
2. Marking the Golf Ball and Guessing Your Line
Take a good look at the green that lies between the hole and the ball. Can you manage to quickly guess a line? Keep in mind that this line need not be a highly accurate one since you’re most likely to adjust it in the following steps.
The next thing to do is mark the striped golf ball using the marker if you have a right-to-left putt. Make sure the stripe is in the direction of the hole’s right side. And if you think you have a straight putt, then the line on the coin points straight toward the hole.
Now pick up the golf ball and check the alignment.
3. Reading the Green
Now that you’ve marked your ball using that striped coin, stand back. Then check the alignment, look at the line your putt is very likely to follow toward the hole. If you feel the urge to change the path, then trust your instincts. Decide on the new line and move on.
4. Remark and Aim Your Golf Ball
What happens now is very important to the whole process. Take a look at the turf that lies between the hole and the ball. Then decide the line you finally want to use for your putting stroke.
Make sure the coin line is facing the correct direction. If not, place the golf ball on the ground again to adjust the coin’s direction to face the new target. The best way to go about this is to spot a different color or blemish of grass on the decided line. Then you line up the coin stripe along with that point. Once again, pick up your ball and wait.
When your putting turn comes, place the golf ball onto the green. The ball stripe lines up with the coin stripe? If yes, know that the former is lined up perfectly, meaning proper alignment is sealed.
5. Practice A Few Strokes to Get A Sense of the Distance
Keep a safe distance from your golf ball when performing these practice strokes. Swing your club and get the feel of the distance to the hole. Discard worries regarding alignment and lining up the ball. The goal here is to feel just how much power you require for striking the golf ball past that hole by a foot.
Many golfers visualize their putts getting through the hole. Imagine your putt curving right down the line and into the cup. More often than not, players also hit the practice green prior to their round. Hitting a couple of putts from different distances downhill and uphill allows you to get the feel for the greens. So there’s no magic secret here, just keep practicing.
6. Putt the Golf Ball
Finally, here’s the part that decides everything. Finalizing the line, feeling the distance with practice strokes, and deciding to confidently hit the golf ball. These areas you’ve got covered so far. So what’s the next step? It’s pre-putting!
Pre-putt is a simple approach to line up your putter’s alignment line to the ball stripe. At this point, it’s very important to understand that there’s no one correct way of putting. So it doesn’t really make a difference if the stroke is straight-through, straight-back, rounded, open-to-closed, etc. What matters the most is what works in your favor.
The secret, however, is not lifting the head. This includes not even sneaking a peek on the putt. When it’s a lag putt, it’s alright to do so once the golf ball leaves your putter. But when you’re within 10 feet, seeing your ball getting into that cup is a complete NO-NO. Only hearing the rattle is in your best interest.
Acquiring the Best Putting Stroke - Basic Mechanics
We don’t want to get into the complicated physics part of the putting stroke. But what we certainly wish to do is focus your attention, as a beginner, on the basic mechanics. Putting, no doubt, seems like a very intimidating task to perform if you’re new to the game or if you just play golf recreationally.
But the good news is that the fundamentals remain the same. And once you get the hang of these, you can climb up the ladder at your own pace.
Let’s Start with Setup and Stance
Needless to say, the setup part of the process in every aspect of golf can either make or break your experience. And this includes putting of course. So what is the best stance for putting? Is it simple? Here’s all you need to know.
And that’s how simple it is. This is exactly what a good setup for putting looks like.
Moving on to Shoulder Turn
For putting, your shoulders are the means through which you drive your stroke. And it’s only common for beginners to not know this. That explains why most of them use their arms and hands for generating power through the putting stroke.
At impact, your shoulders turn back the putter. At the height of the back stroke, the putter weight allows the movement to change course in order to get back to the address position. So the shoulders continue to produce power through the stroke. The outcome of which is a smooth, well-balanced putting stroke. And that’s how it should be.
Keep in mind that the task at hand is to produce a stroke, not a hit. So the best approach is to power through your shoulders. It’s the only way for ensuring consistency, and this results in optimal speed control.
Path of the Putting Stroke
The putter head travels straight back and then straight through to make sure the clubface is square at impact. In the case of longer putts, it’s only natural for the arc of this path to change. When back stroke is in motion, the path begins straight, moves inside slightly, and then returns to the straight path at impact before ultimately finishing slightly toward the inside of the follow-through.
It’s the impact zone, no doubt, that matters the most when talking about putting strokes. You can classify the impact zone as 6 inches before and after the ball. So if the clubhead with a squared face moves through this zone, what happens next doesn’t really matter.
Your goal, as a beginner, should be to focus all your attention on squaring the clubhead through impact. Get this done more consistently and you may never have to worry about your putting strokes ever again.
The Wrist Action
There is a major difference between a hit and a stroke. For putting, it’s the latter that demands more attention, which is why your wrist action plays a crucial role. Keep it quiet and strong, so your shoulders can power through and deliver good putting strokes.
The Easiest Putting Drill Beginners Might Want to Know
1. Train Tracks
Both beginners and experienced golfers benefit from a straight-back, straight-through putting stroke in the game. With longer strokes in the case of lag putts, the putting arch is slightly toward the inside, as it should be. But the initial 3 to 4 inches of the back stroke as well as follow-though ought to be straight.
When your putter head moves through with a squared clubface, you get access to consistency in terms of direction and strike. And that means greater putts achieved with optimal speed. Thus, this particular Train Track technique is very effective as a putting drill.
Align 2 golf clubs or alignment sticks in the form of train tracks. Set up these train tracks, which are at a 6-feet distance from the target, on the green. And the distance between the two tracks is just a little wider in comparison to the width of your putter. The goal is to be able to move the golf club between those tracks freely.
Needless to say, the approach here helps in improving putting stroke path. And the fact that you can do this even at home, along with practice golf balls, means it’s the most useful for beginners.
2. Prayer Grip
Here’s another drill for improving putting stroke consistency. A well-balanced rhythm, no doubt, improves the consistency of distance and strike control. And that, in turn, improves putting results.
So how do you produce this well-balanced rhythm? Through your shoulders and by gripping your putter using two fingers. Simply open up your hands and place them on the grip, on either side of course. At this point, your hands take on a prayer position. You know you’re doing it right when the only two fingers touching the grip are the middles ones.
Now it goes without saying putting like this is not easy. But you have to allow your body to make use of the shoulders the most for generating the speed required for a successful putting stroke. And a drill like this does indeed create the much-needed shoulder turn to improve rhythm.
3. 2-Putt Speed Drill
Good speed is necessary when it comes to putting, and even more so if you’re a beginner. So you can maximize distance control over your longer putts. And this 2-putt technique goes a long way when it comes to eliminating dreadful 3-putts.
Start by selecting two holes on the green, they should be around 30 to 40 feet away from one another. Now take 2 golf balls and putt between these two holes. Continue putting until you achieve 10 2-putts consecutively.
Beginners struggling with performance anxiety or lack of confidence should practice this putting drill as much as possible in order to get used to the on-course circumstances.
How to Make A Higher Number of Short Putts
Be More Aggressive and Take Fewer Breaks
Yes, short putts are very annoying. So how do you fix the problem of the golf ball lipping out onto the right of the hole?
Aim toward the center of that cup, and HIT HARD. Also, never lift the head at this point. If you follow these instructions, you’re the most likely to produce a firm stroke. This approach works best to fix 1-foot putts.
As for 2-4 foot putts, aim for the spot within the hole, and not outside the right or left lip. In this case, your chances of hitting a firm putt at the back of that cup are very high. Just don’t make your golf ball trickle into it, rather focus on hitting the back of the cup.
You may have heard of the traditional golf saying, it goes like driving is for show while putting is for dough. Considering the topic at hand, we’d say it’s pretty accurate. It’s hard for beginners in golf to realize the importance of putting. And that’s only common. But it doesn’t change the fact that almost half the game of golf revolves around putts.
Needless to say, acquiring a good putting stroke is very, very important. It goes a long way when it comes to saving a huge number of shots in your every round of golf.
Just don’t get confused in the process. Prioritize basics such as proper alignment, setup, and putting stroke. And power through the shoulders at all times, and no matter what.