Wanna learn how to putt like the pros? If I were to tell you the most significant difference between an amateur golfer and a professional, it would be in their putting! A professional golfer limits their amount of errors on the green to almost nothing. They rarely have three putts, they have exceptional distance control, and they seem to save their par from practically anywhere! But how do they do this?
Fortunately, you can learn their secrets too! I have put together 9 weird golf tips to putt like a pro that you can use right away on the course…
1. Simple Putting Mechanics
First off, I want to teach you about the proper putting mechanics without making things too dull or confusing. There isn’t much complexity in a putting stroke, contrary to what most people think.
Here are three simplified ways to have a proper putting technique:
- Ball Position
- Body Movement
You need to have a stable putting stance when over the golf ball. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, and you should be standing right over top of the golf ball. My old golf coach told me that if you drop a ball from your nose, it should land on top of your golf ball. This puts you in a more upright position and increases stroke consistency.
Your golf ball position does matter when putting. Make sure that your ball is inside your front heel. This just above the low point of your putting stroke so you will make contact with the ball with a slight up-stroke. This allows for a better roll on the ball and improves your chances of making a putt.
ONLY USE YOUR SHOULDERS when making a putt. Too often do I see golfers use their wrists trying to “control” the distance of the putt. Your putting stroke should feel almost robotic where it is all the same speed with no jerking motions. By using only your upper body and eliminating any wrist movements, you will see improvements in your distance control. (pssst… check out some different putting grips here that can influence your putting stroke and improve confidence!)
2. Find a Putter for your Game
Just like my article about getting fitted for a driver, finding the right putter for your putting stroke is very important! You could spend $100’s of dollars searching for a putter that “feels” right. However, it still may be causing inaccurate putts! That’s why you should have a Professional club fitter look at:
- Shaft Length
- Lie Angle
- Clubhead Weight
- Loft Angle
- Various putter head styles (mallet putter, weighted putter)
- Men’s average putter shaft length is 33-35 inches
- Women’s average shaft length is 33 inches
The length of your putter is determined by your height. If your putter is too short, or too tall, it will affect your lie angle and lead to inconsistent putts.
Here is a simple way to understand your putter’s lie angle:
- If the toe of your putter is too flat (pointing more towards the ground), your golf ball is going to start out towards the right of your target if you’re right-handed. This usually means that your putter is too tall for you
- If the toe of your putter is too upright (pointing more towards the sky), your golf ball is going to start out towards the left of your target if you’re right-handed. This usually means that your putter is too short for you
Your putter’s lie angle should be “flat” on the ground to consistently hit the center of the clubface.
Many putters these days have “weighted” clubheads that control how open or closed the clubface will be at impact.
- Having more weight on the top of your putter will open the clubface slightly, causing the ball to start out more towards the right of your target(if right-handed)
- Having more weight on the bottom of your putter will close the clubface slightly, causing the ball to start out more towards the left of your target (if left handed)
A professional fitter will determine if adding weights (if any) helps your particular putting stroke.
As you would expect, you want the launch angle of your putting stroke to be as close as possible to 0 degrees (flat putt). This is caused by the loft angle of the putter clubface. Unfortunately, most putts do launch after impact producing extra sidespin or topspin. Your fitting will decide which loft angle you require to give you the lowest launch angle on your putts. You’d be surprised how much extra spin you may be putting on your golf ball if your putter isn’t custom made for you! Call local golf stores to schedule a putter fitting.
3. Find a Putting Grip that Works for You
Now that we know the necessary movement to make a putt, it’s time to find which putting grip you want to play with. There is no “right” putting style that is going to help your game. That’s why you need to experiment with different grips and styles to find the one that works best for you.
A few different options are:
- Traditional Grip
- Reverse grip
- Claw grip
- Finger Point
If you want to learn more about which grip to use, I have a whole article about them here
4. Develop a Pre-Shot Routine
You all have probably seen a basketball player go through some pre-shot routine before taking free throws. They do this to quiet their mind and to visualize their shot going through the hoop. Golfers do the same thing!
Having a pre-shot routine is the best way to prepare your mind and body for your putt. Professionals have a routine for every putt out on the green. (Even the short ones) The key is to get your brain so focused in on your putt that you quiet all of those thoughts running through your mind.
Here are a few examples you should add to your routine:
- Look at both sides of the cup to read the break
- Put a ball marker down and line up your golf ball to your liking
- Make practice strokes, feeling the distance of your putt
- Repair any divots or obstructions in your putting line
It’s up to you which order and how long you want to use the above examples. I recommend taking your time and remember using your routine for every putt.
5. Putting Rules
There are rules that you need to follow when on the putting surface. (Violating some of these rules can result in penalty strokes)
- You’re not allowed to pick up your golf ball unless you first put down a ball marker. You will receive a one-stroke penalty if you touch your golf ball before the marker is laid down. (read all about ball markers here)
- Whichever player is farthest from hole goes first
- Always repair your divots made on the putting surface with a divot repair tool
- If everyone is on the putting surface, take the flag out of the hole (2 stroke penalty if your putt hits the flagstick when you’re putting)
- Set the flag on the fringe or off of the putting surface, so it is out of the way when putting
- Avoid other player’s putting lines. Walk around or step over their lines as not to disrupt the ground
- If a putt is long and you have difficulty seeing the hole, ask for someone to tend the flag. (Tend the flag for others if asked)
- Whoever finishes putting first will put the flag back in the hole after everyone has completed the hole
- If a putt is within a makeable distance,(tap-in range), you can elect to finish out the hole to speed up the pace of play.
- Make sure you and your shadow are not visible to your playing partner’s vision when they are putting.
- Matchplay Only: If your opponent is within a makeable distance, you can tell them to pick up their ball, trusting that they would have made it.
6. Essential Putting Accessories
When on the putting surface, you are going to want to have:
- Ball marker – Place behind your ball
- Divot Tool- Repair divots on the green
- Golf Towel- Clean your golf ball
For more information on what you should buy, check out my article here for on my recommended putting accessories
7. Better Long than Short
Alright, now it’s time to dive into some putting strategy!
One of the best ways you can improve your putting is by making sure that your golf ball always makes it to the hole. When Wayne Gretzky famously said “You miss 100% of shots you don’t take”, in golf terms that means “You’ll miss 100% of putts that don’t make it to the hole”! Now, this doesn’t mean blasting your putts at the hole and hoping it goes in; there is a strategy behind it. The pros on TV tell themselves that, if they miss, their golf ball will be 2 feet past the cup. This ensures that their putt at least had a chance to go in the hole.
Big Hole Strategy
To help you understand your putting speed, use this visual out on the course. Pretend you have a 20 foot putt for birdie. Now visualize that the cup size is about the size of a hula- hoop. Tell yourself all you need to do is get the ball inside the hula – hoop, so you’ll have a nice tap-in par if you miss! Instead of thinking “which way is this putt going to break” think, “what speed do I need to have to get the ball as close to the hole as possible. This change in your putting mindset will help you focus more on speed and less on the break, improving your consistency and lowering your score!
(This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look at which way your putt is breaking, it means that your top priority should be getting the ball to the hole)
8. Miss On the High Side
Another strategy to improve your chances of making putts is to miss on the high side. Let’s pretend that you have a 5 ft. putt that breaks from right to left. The high side would be the right side and the low side would be the left. Similar to the step above, you want to play your putt on the high side to give yourself the best chance of making it. If you play on the low side, the ball never has an opportunity to go in at all. It’s better to play too much break than not enough.
So after going through your pre-shot routine and have decided on which way your putt is going to break, make sure to aim for the high side of the break to give yourself a chance at sinking it!
9. Conclusion / Being Mentally Tough
An essential trait that every good putter has is their ability to stay mentally tough on the putting surface. I know I said it before, but when over 40% of your round is on the green, things aren’t always going to go your way. This is why it’s so important to keep your cool and too not get flustered or impatient. You have to know that you’re going to make some putts and miss some putts, it’s all part of the game.
Remember our step above about creating a pre-shot routine? This is why you need one, so you can stay aware and prepared for all different types of scenarios!
Different scenarios include:
- Putting to win a tournament or round against friends
- 5 ft. putt to save par
- Making a three-foot putt to settle with a bogey
There are plenty of other situations that can occur, but you get the idea. You are going to feel pressure on the putting surface, and the only way to succeed is to rise above it and limit your risks!
Lower your Putting Risks by:
- Having the correct stance and ball position, using your shoulders to make the putting movement
- Find a putter for your game by getting fit
- Find a putting grip style that feels comfortable
- Develop a pre-shot routine that you will use for every putt
- Know the rules on the putting surface, so you don’t get into any trouble
- Purchase the necessary putting accessories
- Be a little too long rather than a bit too short on your putts
- If you are going to miss, miss on the high side of the hole
- Be mentally tough and play at your own pace
Follow these putting tips, and you will start seeing more putts drop just like the pros!