DURING the past three seasons, I’ve moved from 112th on the US PGA Tour in the strokes gained: putting category to No.2 this year. How? Well, there are a few reasons.
For starters, we built a house in Virginia Beach, Virginia, that we moved into 18 months ago, in which I had a putting green installed in a room over the garage. That’s been a massive help, because on my off weeks it’s nice to be able to go upstairs for half an hour and putt if I’m bored. I’ve also found a putter I really like in the Odyssey O-Works #1 Wide, in a nice black-white-black finish. It’s easy to line up and I’ve been feeling good every time I step over the ball.
Here are my three tips for you to get that feeling, too:
It’s so important in the golf swing, especially the short stick. Your weight has to be evenly distributed from left foot to right, and from toes to heels. If you want to be consistent, it’s essential you always have your weight placed in the centre.
2. Keep the putter low to the ground
If you’re not doing this, you’re not going to put a consistent roll on the ball. Some putts you’ll impart too much topspin on the ‘pill’ and on others the ball will come up short. Thinking about keeping the putter close to the ground will help the steadiness of your stroke.
3. Concentrate on hitting the middle of the putter
This may sound obvious, but it’s hard to miss short putts when you hit the ball out of the centre of the face. Most amateurs I see in pro-ams miss short putts because they’re not making solid contact on the face. Line up putts on your practice putting green and focus on middling the face, and you’ll start to see more putts drop.
In March, I won my first US PGA Tour event in five years at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Key to my one-shot win was a 51-foot eagle putt I drained on the par-5 16th at Bay Hill during the final round. What was going through my head? Honestly, all I think about on long putts is trying to hole it. If you’re trying to putt to a three-foot circle, for me that’s too big a target. I need a really small target, so I pick a spot inside the hole and aim at that. Why not? If you’re not trying to make a 50-footer, you won’t.
If I’m ever struggling with my putting, I’ll pick a dead straight and flat part of a practice putting green and hit eight to 10-foot putts, over and over. I’ll concentrate on seeing the ball go in the hole, because that builds confidence and confidence breeds good putting. If you’re not feeling good over the ball, generally you’re going to putt poorly. If you are confident, you’re not thinking about missing – and that’s when I putt my best.
No.1 fault among amateurs:
One of the biggest putting faults I see with club golfers is not taking it back and through the same distance. Whether the stroke is six inches, nine inches or a foot back, it needs to come through the ball just as far. Focusing on that will actually improve the rhythm of your stroke and it also prevents deceleration. Combine that with a light grip pressure and you’re on your way to better putting.
– with Evin Priest