The hardest part of golf, as any novice will tell you, is not getting the ball on the green. Getting the ball from the green into the hole can be infinitely more frustrating; and it takes a lot more practice than driving does, before a beginner starts to develop a feel for putting.
Of course, practice is the key; when the world’s top golfers sink those impossibly long putts to clinch golf tournaments, it’s because they’ve put in the work to be able to set up the putt, then relax and let the muscle memory take over.
Putters & Putting
However, it’s no good practising for hours with the wrong technique; you’re only training your muscle memory to deliver consistently bad putts!
So before you practise your putting action until it becomes instinctive, make sure you sort out your putting action. Putting takes time and practice, and you need to understand your form- or style. Here’s how:
1. Left Hand First; Find the Lifeline
If you’re right-handed, you will probably putt left-hand-dominant. If you’re left-handed or your right hand is dominant when you putt, reverse the following instructions.
Place the putter, near the end of the grip, in your left hand, running along your lifeline. That’s lower of the two horizontal lines on your hand, closer to your wrist.
Close three fingers and your thumb around the grip, with your left forefinger pointing down the shaft. The back of your hand should now be parallel to the putter face, with the club shaft, your forefinger and left forearm all in a straight line, wrist cocked.
2. Right-Hand Fingers Under Left Forefinger
Now grip with your right hand slightly below the left, curling the first three fingers of your right hand under the left forefinger and tucking your right pinkie in between the middle and third finger of the left hand.
3. Don’t Overlock the Thumbs
Some golfers find placing the right thumb over the left thumb at this point gives a grip that feels more ‘natural’, but what this does is change the alignment of the putter head: the arms, hands and putter shaft are no longer in a perfect straight line.
Instead, pull the right hand back slightly, so the thumbs meet side-by-side on the grip, pointing along the shaft.
This movement will automatically cock your right wrist at the same angle as the left, and it’s important to keep the wrists cocked at that angle throughout the putt, so that your arms and the putter move in the same straight arc.
4. Judge Your Stroke, and Commit
A slow draw-back for a putt seems cautious, but it actually just gives you time to develop wobbles in your grip and your stroke. Secure your grip, get the putt lined up properly, then play the shot.
Jordan Spieth actually commits to the strength of the putt he wants to hit, draws the putter back to the right height rather fast, then relaxes and lets gravity take the putter head through the ball. It’s a technique worth mastering.
5. Try a Thicker Grip
Thick-grip putters are good enough for the likes of Phil Mickelson, who was using one when he won the 2013 British Open, so you might want to try one out.
The thicker grip makes it easier to line the putter up between your two lifelines, making the perfect hand positions much more comfortable.