FUNDAMENTALS FOR A HIGH HANDICAP
CHOOSE YOUR METHOD
As a higher handicap golfer, putting isn’t so crucial to your overall score, it probably doesn’t define you on the course. But no matter how your round is going you do not want to regularly miss those short putts. Having a ‘neutral’ grip is key to keeping a square face. By neutral we mean that the palms face each otherwise one hand will become too dominant and cause an open or closed face at impact. If one hand becomes too dominant it tends to affect your body aim also. Our general tip is to experiment with some different techniques used by the worlds best. All but the traditional method are designed to minimize the effect or influence that the right hand can have. Each technique has its own merits, lets have a look at the most popular:
TRADITIONAL- AS USED BY TIGER WOODS
CACK-HANDED – SERGIO GARCIA
FUNDAMENTALS FOR A MID-HANDICAP – FROM 10-18
TENSION AND TEMPO
Tension and tempo are two very common words in the lexicon of golf. What can they mean for you and your putting? It seems obvious to say that the better you are at something the more relaxed you become performing the task. If you are struggling with performing a smooth and relaxed putting stroke simply trying to relax yourself will yield little improvement. You must practice some fast downhill putts focussing only on a slow soft stroke – do not even putt towards a hole. When next on the course and facing a difficult or important putt the key is to have a focus similar to your practice. As soon as you think about the final result more than the process, old habits will kick in.
Practicing one handed is a great drill used by Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods among others. Read our in depth article and see the benefits it will bring. It generally removes the manipulation of the wrists in your stroke. As mentioned above, it will help create a relaxed smooth stroke controlled by your chest – not your wrists. Here is a great video to visualise next time you are on the greens, two of the most famous putters in golf.
FUNDAMENTALS FOR A LOW HANDICAP – FROM 0 – 9
READING THE GREENS
Green reading is a very underrated skill in golf especially as it is very hard to quantify. A great reader of greens is likely a very decisive, committed putter and by reading the greens well creates a bigger margin of error when putting. Indecisiveness on what the putt will do often leads to a negative or defensive stroke. The ability to perceive the effect of a slope is key to two putting from distance. Aimpoint is a great system explained in the video below that helps you read greens in an exact manner.
ROLLING THE ROCK – END OVER END
You may think that your angle of attack (eg steep or shallow) is irrelevant in putting but I would disagree. On very good greens a launch angle of three degrees is the consensus amongst experts while more launch is required on slower greens. It is very common for the Americans to switch putters or bend their putter to create more loft. Some players instinctively move their ball position further forward on slower greens. The video below shows with fantastic clarity what occurs at impact. This is a perfect putt with minimal skid. If you struggle with distance control on the greens and frequently see your ball hop or bounce just after impact it is likely that your ‘launch angle’ is poor.
FUNDAMENTALS FOR AN EXPERT – BETTER THAN SCRATCH
STROKES GAINED PUTTING STATISTIC
Putting has long been heralded as the only difference between the winners and the also rans at an expert or elite level. There is no getting away from its importance, a five foot putt on the final green can determine the outcome of a tournament. The recent introduction of the “strokes gained putting” statistic, created by Mark Broadie has put paid to the theory that phenomenal putting is the only road to success.
The statistic measures your performance on every putt versus the tour average success percentage from that distance including the number of putts it takes you to finish. For example a holed ten footer gains you 0.61 of a stroke as only 38% make that distance of putt. The final 1% is accounted for in three putts. If you were to hole a 30 foot putt you would gain 0.93 of a stroke. In summary this means you could shoot 67 and factually claim that you putted average! This knowledge is important as it keeps your results in perspective. We are often misled by the great putts constantly shown during live coverage.
SAM PUTT LAB
If you haven’t already you should read our our article on Magnus’ visit to putting expert Mike Kanski where he was measured on the SAM PUTT LAB device. Its basically a Trackman for putting providing a multitude of reports and analysis on every part of the stroke. It’s a great way to identify any issues that may be causing you frustration on the greens and will provide a clear focus for your practice. Far from causing confusion with this analytical approach, the player is left with a technique adjustment that he can feel and trust. The before and after performances can be judged objectively, for example Magnus was able to change his shoulder alignment and create a much more consistent path. The tolerances are small between success and failure in golf in general, but putting especially. Don’t take guesses with your game, understand exactly how you compare to the world’s best.