It’s time to learn how to Putt

Most amateurs do not score as well as they would like and perhaps as well as they are capable of. One of the easiest areas to improve your scoring is on the green. Considering that half of the strokes in a round of golf are putts, it is interesting to see just how many golfers think that they are either good putters or are willing to except that they are not good putters.

Golfers who think they can putt well  tend to grade themselves on a curve. Comparing yourself to golfers who don’t putt well, is not a way to determine how well you do. We all know that two putts per hole are allotted to a golf score. But remember, this is assuming that you reached the green in regulation.   The two putts you are given for each hole assumes that the first one will be some distance away. Most professionals consider a chip shot from off the green to be the same as a putt. that means that unless you are on in regulation, you should have one putt remaining not two. With a reasonable chip shot, you should have a putt somewhere inside a 10′ circle. Relying on two putts from this distance is not good putting. Since most putts have some break to deal with no matter how long or short they are,  a successful putt will depend on your green reading ability combined with the effectiveness of your club face and body alignment, the amount of energy you intend to apply to the ball for distance, and the pureness of your mechanics in order to get this all completed as planned. The amount of potential error during this process is substantial. But along with this list of challenges is the biggest hurdle in this challenge, which is the lack of support and reliability the putter you are using is providing. A small and light putter may feel good but this kind of “feel” support does not translate to better putting. All of the essentials for good putting completely rely on the last two items on the list, mechanics and the putter. Without either or both of these elements in place, you will never be a good putter, period.

As for being “OK with not putting well”, I would say my hat is off to you. This apparently means that scoring is not of interest to you and you are out there on the course to simply enjoy the day. I would applaud this notion if you didn’t have any reaction to a poor shot or didn’t keep score. But I am guessing that there are only a handful of golfers out there that shrug off a 3′ putt that doesn’t go in or don’t care about their score.  Nothing brings you back to the course faster than a long solid drive or sinking a long breaking putt. The idea of any endeavor in life  is to except the results after you have given it your best effort. Not giving this game a good try and being ok with the poor results is not how most of us are built. Although some of us are limited with our ability to repeat a full swing motion which can affect our score somewhat,  There is no need to resign yourself to being a poor putter. Since putting is not as demanding as the motion of the full swing can be, your ability to improve on the green is doable.

So where do you go from here? Perhaps a real putting lesson that may involve changing your “style” may be in order. Many golf instructors seem to have given up on presenting methods of putting that would go against the “natural” tendencies that golfers apply to the putting stroke and instead do minor repairs like sticking a band aid on a big wound. A golf lesson on the range involving full stroke changes goes on all the time but the protective nature and resistance to change your putting stroke can be debilitating to your game.  Dominant hand manipulation during a putting stroke is very natural and may feel like you are really in control, but in reality this method does not work. If it did, you would see more tour pros with their right index finger down the shaft as the give the putter a slight back stroke followed by a wristy smack at the ball. Sound familiar?  If you look at the stroke of the average tour player, you will see a dead hands, shoulder rock that is as smooth as silk but does not really look natural. The left hand low method seems like a great way to solve the problem and it is to a point. But remember again, the tour pros use this method to reduce the dominant hands need to control. This in turn improves their dead hands motion. If you use a left hand low method but still allow your hands to have an effect on the stroke, you will not get the best results from this method either. A non dominant hand controlling the stroke while the dominant hand is being limited because of the grip position merely means that now you have two hands that are not performing well. The idea here is to not have any hands at all. This resulting dead hands action will reduce energy input to the ball resulting in putts that go short. This is the reason for the shoulder rock.

You can see how much you can improve your putting if you are willing to really try. It’s time to improve your scoring and enjoy the game even more than you do now. So give your mechanics a good, hard, critical look and don’t be afraid to try something different. While you’re at it, give that putter a good look as well, since the physics of their designs haven’t changed in 100 years, perhaps you can take advantage of the high level technology of the L2 Putter as well. Ask your pro for a real putting lesson which may mean trading in that putting stroke you have had since you started golfing.  You have nothing to lose except a few strokes off your game.

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