Five steps to restoring confidence on the greens
From learning to control the putter face to fixing your posture, getting the right grip and the best tips for practice, here are five simple steps for restoring your confidence on the greens.
#1: Learn to control the putter face
Your hands need to work together when you putt. A good approach is to think about your hands performing slightly different roles. Your left hand (for right-handers) controls direction while the right hand controls the rhythm. To help with the former, hit some putts with just your left hand on the club then recreate that feel when you hold the putter with both hands.
#2: For good putting, get relaxed at address
Ever wondered why you can hole putts from anywhere on the practice putting green, yet struggle out on the course? The answer is tension. If you're comfortable at address, you'll putt more confidently. Having said that, there are some best practices.
1. Get your eyes as close as possible to directly over the ball.
2. Make sure the putter shaft and your forearms form a straight line.
3. Keep your grip pressure relaxed – two or three on a scale of 1-10. A simple thought is to keep the grip pointing at your sternum throughout the stroke.
#3: Four tips for putting posture
1. To feel for the perfect putting posture, tilt from your hips until your arms hang vertically.
2. Your eyes should be directly over the ball with your arms and putter in line.
3. Keep the putter shaft vertical at address with the ball just forward of centre.
4. Simply maintain the "Y" shape created by the shaft, hands and arms during the stroke.
#4: In practice, focus on dispersion
The best way to make the perfect stroke is not to worry about making the perfect stroke! On the course, avoid getting mired in the mechanics of putting at the expense of feel, pace and line. Remember, it's OK to miss. Putting isn't life or death.
Practice tip: When you work on your putting on the practice green or before you head out onto the course, always spend some time working on speed. It can be easier to do this without the distraction of the hole so hit some long putts to no specific target. Your want them to finish in a very tight dispersion. Once you've hit five balls into one area, choose another spot to aim at and repeat.
#5: Grip high in palm for better putting
There are no set rules when it comes to putting. It's the most individual and personal part of the game. However, most of the world's top golfers are fastidious about their grip. Most prefer to hold the putter with the handle resting more in the palm of their hands than in their fingers. This reduces the excess wrist action in the stroke that can lead to inconsistencies. It also sets the shaft angle in a more upright position at address, which 'arches' the lead wrist. It's easier to track the putter back and through from this position.
Avoid the finger grip
When the grip runs along the base of the fingers, it can set your hands too low at address and also encourages a loose wrist action and forearm rotation. Those two elements can destroy your putting technique since they invariably lead to a loss of putter face control.
Match grip to your lifeline
Position the putter grip in a more vertical position so that it runs more along the lifeline of your palm. If you draw a straight line from the end of the grip, it should extend up your forearm instead of pointing at your belt buckle as it would do on a normal full shot.
Fingers point straight down
Holding the putter more in the palm of the lead hand sets it in a more upright or 'arched' position. If you extend your fingers, they should point down at the ground. Similarly, you should not be able to see too many crinkles at the base of your wrist.
Foolproof for chipping, too
You can adopt this principle for chip shots. Setting the grip in the palm effectively turns your iron into a putter. You can now play the shot using your putting stroke. While it's a little restrictive, it's a great solution for when you want to remove all the risk from a chip shot.