Putting Tips from the Pros
Keep your putting stroke, find the right putter.
Keep Your Putting Stroke, Fit Your Putter to It More times than not, improving your putting involves finding a club to correct your groove—not changing your stroke. In essence, you treat the symptoms rather than the cause. Thanks to its Science and Motion PuttLab system, Club Champion in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., has the expertise and technology to dissect your putts and set you—and your putting blade—straight. “When we slice a drive 20 yards, it’s easy to spot as a poor shot. When we miss a putt by an inch, it’s still a miss, but we tend to not think we hit it as poorly,” says master fitter Jim Yenser. “Most people take a putter fitting for granted, when, in fact, 40 percent of your strokes are putts.”
So what does this technological feedback do for a player’s putting game? “A true fitting will give a golfer recommendations for what style of putter they should be playing—weight, grip, length, loft, lie angle and more,” says Yenser. “It’ll show you the path of your putting stroke, your consistency, if you launch the ball at the proper loft, or if you’re popping up the ball at impact.” One Presidential Blvd., Bala Cynwyd, Pa., (215) 921-2054, www.clubchampiongolf.com.
Area Golf Pros Offer Tips for Better Putting
“Many students struggle with speed, focusing too much on direction. A drill I do is to practice putting at different lengths over 20 feet to the edge of the green, instead of the hole. Try to get the ball to just stop on the fringe. By taking the hole away, you’re able to focus on how different-length strokes produce different distances, without worrying
about their direction.” —Chris Wilkinson, Llanerch Country Club
“Add a mental count to your putting stroke. This starts when you’re done reading the putt and beginning your setup. Once you’re over the ball, ‘one’ starts the putter back, ‘two’ changes direction, and ‘three’ is impact. Once you find a rhythm, it makes short putts almost automatic.” —Justin Meyers, Applecross Country Club
“I recommend using a teaching aid called the Putting Stick by TPK. It makes us aware of our putting path and putter face. The goal is for the ball to travel down the entire putting stick without falling off. The stick is around four feet long. If your path is not very good, the ball will fall off quickly.” —Chuck Rininger, Lookaway Golf Club
“Develop a routine and practice it, just like you play. Then free your mind during the round. Practicing putting is not as fun as hitting drivers on the range, but it’s far more important. Mathematically, if you shoot par 72, hit 18 greens and two-putt them all, that’s 50 percent of your strokes being putts. Is everyone spending 50 percent of their practice time putting? They should be.” —Frank LaVacca III, Hartefeld National
“I always say, ‘It’s a putting stroke, not a putting hit.’ I like to look at the hole and the intended line while creating my practice feels. This lets my eyes transfer what I’m seeing in distance and direction into the ‘feel’ of my putting stroke. Once I feel comfortable with what I’m seeing and feeling, I set up for my putt and, without hesitation, stroke.” —Jeff Haas, French Creek Golf Club
“Never let your eyes leave the ball, and keep your head still until the ball has left the putter face. It’s amazing how much more solidly a putt can be struck just by focusing on these two things. A helpful drill is to use your shadow on a sunny day. See if your head is moving during the stroke, or you can have someone hold your head while you make your strokes. Solidly struck putts will turn into putts rolling out further.” —Clint Deibert, The Ridge at Back Brook
“One of my favorite tips for putting is what I call ‘stick the landing.’ In sports like figure skating and long-jump skiing, you need to land solidly. This is important in the putting stroke. Take a full swing to finish on balance, and hold your follow-through. Holding the follow-through helps promote a stroke that accelerates through to the finish—and it will also prevent the body from moving excessively, keeping the putter face more square.” —Jeff Kiddie, Aronimink Golf Club