4 keys to making more putts, according to a PGA Tour pro
Earlier this month, I made my third Masters appearance. And even though I missed the cut, every start at Augusta National is a learning experience.
Take 2020, for example. I was paired with eventual winner Dustin Johnson in the final group on Sunday, and that gave me immense confidence to build on. Some people say winning the Masters is all about putting, but believe me: you have to be precise with every part of your game there.
That said, putting is essential, not just in Augusta but anywhere you play. I placed 41st and 29th in Strokes Gained Putting my first two years on the Tour, and that helped me earn a win and a Top 20 OWGR finish. I try not to complicate things: I work on four moves to get the job done. Go with the flow and you’re almost guaranteed to shoot lower scores.
Keep reading below and let’s get started.
1. Go for a square configuration
I understand that putting is personal, and that it is important to be comfortable at address. I’m also aware that many great putters throughout history have adopted highly customized setups, but unless you have tons of time to rehearse a single address, I recommend setting up square. This is something you can practice with alignment rods. Just make sure your shoulders, hips, knees, toes and putterface point in the same direction. It’s easy to do, and once you have it, it’s very easy to repeat. For my money, a consistent setup that you can replicate over and over again is a huge confidence booster.
2. Keep your elbows together
Sloppy elbows can wreak havoc on your stroke and really mess with your timing and rhythm. Do what I do: 1) Stand up straight and tuck your elbows into your sides while making final adjustments to your grip; 2) Without moving anything else, flex your hips and put the putter on the ground behind the ball. “Connecting” your elbows to your body in this way makes it much easier to maintain your movement when you start your movement; it almost naturally squares you up so you know exactly where you’re aiming.
3. Start your run with your left shoulder
The fastest way to lose tempo and manipulate the putter head off line is to power the start of your stroke with your hands. Things are getting too wonky. I imagine starting the putter using the back of my left shoulder. (Sometimes I practice with my hand on my shoulder to remind myself, as I demonstrate here.) This technique might look a little different, but when you try it, you’ll notice how super stable it keeps everything – from your body to putterface – from start to finish.
4. Aim close, not far
Like most golfers, I see a break from the hole, as in “This putt should start two inches outside to the right of the cup.” The mistake most players make is that they then focus on and try to aim their putter to a spot two inches outside the right. Easy to make from three feet, but not 30, where many putts come from for recreational golfers. Instead, focus on a spot just two feet in front of you that’s on your chosen line, then just roll the ball over that spot. If your speed is good, you will still be around the hole.
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