Reading the green.....
An ability to read the green comes from two sources, experience and
natural instinct. No one can tell you exactly how to read a particular
green because they have no idea of the speed you are going to impart to
the ball. As you approach the green, let your eyes go to work. Look at the
terrain. If the green looks slightly tilted, it usually means the ball
will break toward the low side. Gravity plays the most important part in
determining how a putt will break. Look at the ball from behind the cup. A
putt loses speed as it approaches the cup, gravity takes over and as the
ball slows down it breaks to the low side of the cup. So..... pick your
line, determine your speed and trust it.
2. The stance..... There is only one factor in determining your
stance; your eyes must be over the line of the putt. This is absolutely
essential in determining the proper line and executing a good putting
stroke. If your eyes are not over the line of the putt you will see a line
to one side or the other. This would be like standing a foot or two to one
side of a fence line and trying to line up the fence posts...not very
practical. If you have your eyes over the line you will have no problem
with eye error. To check this, place a small mirror on a level floor and
then place your ball an inch or so In front of the mirror. Look down at
the mirror and adjust your eyes until they are directly over your line.
3. Sweet spot.....Every putter has a center of gravity; itís called
the sweet spot. Generally, itís close to the center of the putter face. A
putt must be struck on that sweet spot every time to have any consistency
in your putting. If you donít hit the ball on the sweet spot you will have
variations in the distance the ball travels and the line the ball takes.
It would be like shooting pool with a bowed cue stick. If you donít hit
the sweet spot, the putter will twist when itís struck on the heel or toe.
You can be as much as 4 feet short on a 15 foot putt if you donít hit it
on the sweet spot. To check for the location of your putterís sweet spot,
hold the putter by the end of the grip, then tap the face with the point
of a tee. When the putter swings straight back without twisting, you have
found the sweet spot. To check your accuracy in hitting your sweet spot
when putting, tape a piece of paper over the face of your putter, then
tape a piece of carbon paper over the paper. Three or four putts should
show you exactly where you are striking the putter.
4. Square Putter Face..... In order to correctly aim a putt, the
putter must be square ( or at right angles) to the intended line of putt.
It is absolutely essential to start the ball on the line you want it to
go. Itís like firing a gun. The barrel must be aimed at the target at the
moment the bullet is fired. A ball bounces off the putter face; therefore
it will only bounce at right angles to the face at the moment of Impact.
What the putter head does prior to that moment is of no consequence.
5. Distance..... If there is a secret in putting, it can be stated in
two words - ďHow farí? Distance is truly the greatest factor in making a
fine putt and it should be the final objective in the putting act. Itís
how far you toss the ball with your putter that counts. Itís like tossing
a wad of paper into the waste basket; you donít think about the mechanics
of throwing the wad, your basic concern is the distance. Most 3 putts
occur as a result of improper distance. rather than direction. When
putting, always try to putt the bail to go a foot beyond the hole. More
often than not, it will stop at the bottom of the hole.
6. Routine..... Every great putter has a routine which he, or she,
does over and over on short or long putts. The basic routine we see in
tour players goes like this; after reading the green and determining the
line they want to send the ball, either from behind the ball or to the
side of the ball, they look at the target, or the line to the target.
While looking at the target, (not at the ball) they will take practice
strokes to get the feel of the speed they want to hit the ball. After this
rehearsal of feel, they get themselves set over the ball, and after a
final look at the hole, they try to repeat the feel of their practice
stroke. After the stroke, they stay absolutely still, and remain in the
posture they set up in at address until the ball stops rolling. Looking up
too soon is the worst sin in putting. Get yourself a great routine and
stay with it!!!
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Because youíve got lousy technique and not feel and you donít stroke the
ball on the sweet spot on the putter.
Letís talk about the last part first ó the good old sweet spot. Every
putter has one. Usually with the modem putter thereís a line on top of the
putter indicating where it is. Now letís do a little experiment. If youíre
right handed, take hold of the top of your putter handle with the thumb
and right index finger of your left hand. Now take a pencil in your right
hand and tap the toe of the face of the putter and watch how it twists as
you strike it with the rubber end. Now strike it on the heel of the putter
and watch it twist. Now strike it on the sweet spot line and watch it move
straight back. Moral of the story is: you better hit it on the sweet spot.
If your head and lower body are moving all over the place, you sure wonít
be hitting that spot.
An old friend of mine, Larry Gilbert, was a three time PGA Club Pro
Champion and then joined the senior PGA Tour. He was making a million
bucks a year before he passed away. This man could really putt his ball.
His theory about putting was that of the proverbial pendulum. He likened
the putting stroke to the pendulum on a big grandfather clock.. The bottom
of the pendulum went back and forth an equal distance, while the fulcrum
at the top stayed stationary. Thatís your head at the top. If itís moving
and youíre peeking up to see where the ball is going, you wonít hit that
sweet spot. According to Gilbert, that fulcrum or base, was the back of
the neck. If that spot on the back of his neck moved, the whole fulcrum
was thrown off kilter and the putt would be mishit.
Letís proceed to technique. There are a lot of ways to putt. Just look at
the tour players. They use short putters, long putters, belly putters,
etc. They putt with open stances, feet together, feet far apart. Lord
Almighty, which is the best way? Well, thatís one youíll have to figure
out yourself or maybe get help from a good PGA teaching professional.
There are a few things most good putters do:
ē They get their eyes over the line of the putt. There
are exceptions of course, but very few.
ē They have a consistent back and through stroke, with
the putter traveling down the line on the follow through.
ē They strike the ball with the putter face square to
the line of the target.
Now letís get to the last part; feel. Everybody has feel in their hands or
body unless itís been lost because of a physical disability. How do we
produce feel? ówith good technique and posture.
Putting a ball is like tossing a piece of balled up paper in a waste
basket. When you toss the paper you look at the target and your eyes tell
you how far to throw it. The next time you see Tiger or David Duvall putt,
watch the routine they use on three footers and fifty foot putts. Itís the
same way every time. They read the line they want to putt the ball on.
Then they stand beside the ball and take practice strokes while looking at
the target. They are letting eyes tell them how hard to stroke the putter
as they swing it back and forth, feelin2 it in their hands. Then they put
the putter behind the ball, take a last look at the target, and execute 3
that same practice stroke for real. Thatís how you produce feel. If you
learn the above fundamentals and you will learn to putt and putt well.
Let me ask you to consider one last question. How much time do you put in
working on your putting stroke? If itís anything less than 25% of your
total practice time, itís not enough. If you spend three hours hitting
balls on the range, you should be putting in at least one hour on the
putting green. Gary Player once told me, ďThe more I practiced, the
luckier I got.Ē
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