How To Fix Your Putting

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Cristie Kerr Golf Instruction

Putting is my favourite part of the game. But I struggled some in 2007 despite the good things that happened to me – getting married and winning my first Major, the U.S. Women’s Open. Like our amateur counterparts, we pros have trouble sticking to a practise routine. I became less focused and got away from doing the drills that made me a good putter. I went from leading the tour in putts per green hit in regulation in 2006 to 16th in that category in 2007. So I got back to work. For the mental side, I started talking to Dr. Joe Parent, author of Zen Golf. He encouraged me to believe in myself and not get upset when I miss a putt. You’ll see a couple of Dr. P’s tips here. With my swing coach, Bryan Lebedevitch, I’ve been concentrating on basics: making sure my stroke isn’t too long and my speed is good. Plus, I’m back to my drills, 20 minutes to 45 minutes every time I practise. I know exactly what I want to do before I hit that first putt. And I’m back on top in the putting stats for 2008.

Speed Drill

Speed Drill

Many of the drills I do are pace-related. Here, I lay a club down 1 1/2feet beyond the hole. My goal, if I miss,  is to roll the ball up to the shaft, without touching it. That would leave an easy comebacker. I’ve learnt a putt has the best chance of dropping when it would go a foot by the cup.

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My Grip

My Grip

I want my hands to feel comfortable when I’m holding the putter. I grip the handle in my left palm, not in the fingers, and right under the fleshy pad as I’m showing here. Then I add my right hand, also gripping in the palm. I wear a glove for full-swing shots, but never on the green.

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Gate Drill

Gate Drill

I place two tees a few inches apart, forming a “gate”, and putt through it. The only way the ball will pass through is if the putterface is dead square at impact. It’s hard not to hit the tees through the narrow opening. So if you’re doing this for the first time, start by placing the tees six inches apart. As you start squaring the putterface consistently, move the tees closer together.

Dr. P's Advise

Commit yourself to the putt, but before you hit it, take a full breath and let it out. This clears your mind and settles your body.

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Backstroke Drill

Backstroke Drill

My stroke is naturally flowing, and the danger is that I sometimes make too big a motion. With this drill, I place a tee about 10 inches behind the ball and practise mid-range putts. That forces me to take the putterhead back only so far. I’m trying to maintain the same, smooth tempo for putts of all lengths – no steering or decelerating. The putterhead should go through the ball smoothly and positively. You’ll also notice I stick a tee next to my ball – this is so I can monitor ball position.

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