As great as it is to hit a 300 yard drive, it's worth exactly the same as a 3 foot putt. Here's the thing though... Not everyone can hit the ball 300 yards, but everyone can make a 3 foot putt. If you're serious about shooting lower scores, you have to become the best putter you can possibly be.
According to PGATour.com, the Top 10 putters average 27.75 putts per round That's only 1.54 putts per hole! If you're not already tracking your putts per round, keep track next time you play and see how you compare.
It's not uncommon for beginners to have 60-70+ putts per round averaging 3.5 putts per hole when first starting out. There's a potential to drop 30+ strokes in putting alone!
The beauty about putting is that anyone can do it! It doesn't matter if you're 3 years old or 103 years old, you can putt! You don't need height, strength, special talents, heck, you don't even need a putting green to practice! Yet, when it comes to Golf instruction, the majority of golfers spend their time and money working on their full swing and complain when their scores aren't going down as fast as they'd like. That's because at the end of the day, regardless of how well you strike the ball, you still need to get it in the hole.
The 4 Fundamental
Components of Putting
Let's take a brief look into the components of putting so you can understand how to make a better stroke.
The face of the putter is by far the most important part of the stroke. Putter face influences the direction and roll of the ball with an 80+ percent direct correlation. You could have the perfect setup, perfect aim, perfect grip, but if the putter face is off at impact, you'll miss the putt.
When training muscle memory, I love to eliminate as many variables as possible and isolate only what I'm trying to change or improve. One of my favorite drills to isolate the putter face is "It's Automatic." It's not about making the putt... It's about making a good stroke.
Because each putt is from the same distance, you've eliminated speed. Because the putt is flat, you've eliminated direction. Because there are alignment sticks on the ground to help aid your eye, you've eliminated path. All that's left is putter face. The idea is to groove the feel of the stroke so when you hit a putt on the course it's automatic.
Speed is the second most important part of putting. That's because the speed in which you hit a putt will determine how much the ball breaks. The faster a ball is moving forward, the less it'll move side to side. Pick your speed first, aim second.
That being said, a putt that doesn't have enough speed and comes up short has a 0 percent chance of going in the hole so we want at least enough speed to get to the hole but not so much speed that we can't make the comeback if we miss. The ideal speed for a putt is one where the ball goes 1-2 feet (17") past the hole when missed. To isolate your putting speed, try a putting speed ladder.
I usually set up my putting ladder so the "minimum" distance line is 10 feet away and the "maximum" distance line is 20 feet away. That being said, if you struggle, let's say, with 30-50 foot putts, set the minimum distance line 30 feet away and the maximum distance line 50 feet away. Tweak as needed to isolate the distances you struggle with most.
You may be able to hit the ball square, and at the right speed, but if it's not going the right direction, it's not going in the hole. Direction, or aiming, is sometimes elusive because there's no one correct answer. Like we said earlier, speed determines direction. That means hitting the ball firmly will require a different aim than dying the ball in the hole.
There are plenty of cool tools on the market such as the perfect putter and systems for reading greens such as AimPoint, but whatever your method, it's important to practice consistently so you don't lose your touch.
I like to do Around the World or Clock Face style putting drills to clean up and fine tune my aim. This allows me to see putts that go straight, fade, draw, and everything in between.
The path the putter takes through impact certainly plays a role in the direction the ball will go and how true it will roll. At only a 20 percent influence over the ball, this is where you can fine tune the consistency of your stroke.
One of Tigers favorite drills is a 2 tee gate drill where he sets the tees slightly wider than the width of his putter. This is to make sure when he strokes back and through that his putter is going as squarely as possible. With that same setup he can also work on face angle and speed control. It's simple, cheap, and effective.
While Tempo isn't one of the 4 fundamental components of the stroke itself, it is vitally important for creating consistency. Without tempo, it becomes very difficult to repeat the stroke, especially on fast, slick greens, where the tiniest difference in your stroke changes the result. By working with something like Blast Golf, you can train your tempo and make sure you're not changing the integrity of your putter face. A tempo of 2:1 backstroke:forward stoke is ideal. This will ensure you're always accelerating through the ball and creating a true roll.
By the Numbers
So now that we know what the 4 fundamental components of putting are, it's time to understand some basic statistics...
3 feet is probably one of the most important distances in all of Golf. 3 feet from the hole is when we have nearly a 100 percent chance of making the putt. Tour players are averaging 95+ percent from this critical distance. All lag putts, chips, pitches, and approaches are all trying to get to this 3 foot circle.
When the ball is 6 feet away from the hole, chances of making the putt significantly drop off. Tour players are averaging 50-60 percent from 6 feet which may surprise you because of how relatively close that really is. what happens when we go from 3 feet to 6 feet is we can't overpower the break of the putt anymore. It'll start to become more predominant and you'll have to take it into consideration.
10 Feet is a critical distance in Golf. Tour players typically hit wedges to 10 feet and make 30-40 percent of the putts from that distance. That's why they're able to make so many birdies. If a tour player hits a drive inside 100 yards, statistically speaking, there chances of converting a birdie go through the roof.
In my book, when we're 20+ feet away, we're no longer trying to make the putt. If it happens, great, but the goal is simply to get it within that 3 foot circle so you can convert your next putt. Again, it all comes back to that 3 foot circle.
The Secret to Putting
Everyone wants to know the secret to putting. Is it the putter? Is it the grip? Eyes over or eyes slightly down and behind? Is it the tempo or is it the forward press of the hands?
The secret to putting is to treat every putt as if it's a straight putt. I'll let that sink in for a second...
Regardless of how long the putt is or how much it breaks, treat it as if it's straight. The difference then becomes where you start the ball, and at what speed. That's why the drills above are so important, because they isolate the 4 components of the stroke and allow you to take your stroke out on the course.
Bonus: Putting Posture
One important thing to keep in mind is that regardless of how much time you put into making your technique solid, if your posture is off, your consistency will be off.
When you're able to stand in a proper posture with stability, connection, balance, and rhythm, your stroke will become much more repeatable. Here's a few things you can do when warming up your putting stroke to open your range of motion and set yourself up for success on the greens.