13 Ways to Fix Your Game: Putting

Friday March 2nd, 2007
Fix Your Lag Putting

"Feel" the length

After determining your line, settle into your putting stance a few inches in front of your ball. Make a few practice strokes while looking at your target. Keep the putter moving back and through. What's happening is that your eyes are sending signals to your brain to move your arms and shoulders at the correct speed to putt the ball the needed distance. If you make practice strokes with your head down, obtaining a feel for distance becomes very difficult.

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To make more long putts, make your practice strokes while looking at your target. Making practice strokes with your head down won't give you a good sense of distance.


Copy Goosen from long distance

Already owner of a game without any weak links, two-time U.S. Open Champion Retief Goosen is making more than 5% more putts from greater than 25 feet. Good scores require making the long ones every once in a while.

"Long-range putting is all about pace. I start to read my putt before I get to the green by looking at the fall of the ground. This gives my long putts that much more of a chance to get near the cup."
-Retief Goosen


PGA Tour Most Improved Putts holed from more than 25 feet
Player 2005 Putt%/Rank 2006 Putt%/Rank Improvement (%Rank)
Retief Goosen 1.1%/202nd 6.6%/1st +5.5%/+161
Ted Purdy 4.5%/150th 9.1%/3rd +4.6%/+147
Chris Riley 4.1%/172nd 8.5%/7th +4.4%/+165
Craig Barlow 4.7%/143rd 9.1%/3rd +4.4%/+140
PGA Tour Average: 5.6%
Fix Your Mid-Range Putting

Try an alternative grip

If you have difficulty keeping the putter on line, or notice that your putts start in a direction other than what you planned, you might want to try a new grip. The "claw" is a popular alternative. To use it, your left-hand grip remains the same, but your right hand holds the handle lightly with the thumb and forefinger, and your palm faces in. Your right hand should just rest on the handle—don't push the putterhead with your right hand down the target line.

The Claw The Belly Putter


Catch fire like Vaughn

Only the likes of Jim Furyk are rolling putts better than Vaughn Taylor right now. He's always made the short ones, but now he's making those tough do-or-die putts from 10 to 15 feet (almost 50 percent more compared to 2005).

"I never hit the ball far as a kid, so I learned how to putt. I've always been technically sound, but I've worked hard at it for the last couple of years."
-Vaughn Taylor


PGA Tour Most Improved Putts holed between 10 and 15 feet
Player 2005 Putt%/Rank 2006 Putt%/Rank Improvement (%Rank)
Mark Calcavecchia 20.9%/201st 33.7%/19th +12.8%/+182
Michael Allen 25.7%/159th 34.1%/13th +8.4%/+146
Lee Janzen 25.6%/161st 33.7%/19th +8.1%/+142
Vaughn Taylor 26.5%/149th 36.3%/9th +9.8%/+140
PGA Tour Average: 18.6%
Fix Your Short Putting

Stay in your triangle

They key to successful putting is keeping the triangle formed by your forearms and hands intact during your stroke. That means zero wrist action. Power your stroke with the muscles in your shoulders and arms. If your wrists flip the putterhead past your hands, you'll never be able to control the distance of putts.

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  • To sink more putts, keep the triangle formed by your arms and chest intact, as you would on a full swing.
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  • Don't let your left wrist break down at impact.

  • Weir on a roll

    Mike Weir's average number of putts per hole was 0.063 less in 2006. That may not sound like much, but when you're hitting greens in regulation like a Tour pro, that 0.063 turns into 50 to 60 saved strokes over the course of a year, one reason that Weir also jumped nearly 100 spots in Scoring.

    "My putting let me down at the U.S. Open, so I've been working extra hard on that area of my game. And now I'm seeing signs that it's paying off. It proves that practice is a big part of improvement."
    -Mike Weir


    PGA Tour Most Improved Putts-per-hole average
    Player 2005 Average/Rank 2006 Avergae/Rank Improvement/Rank
    Mike Weir 1.801/173rd 1.743/15th -0.063/+158
    Tommy Armour III 1.801/163rd 1.745/17th -0.056/+146
    Chris Riley 1.822/192nd 1.765/61st -0.057/+131
    Stuart Appleby 1.802/165th 1.760/44th -0.042/+121
    PGA Tour Average: 1.781
    Success Story
    Top 100 Teacher Dana Rader, director of golf at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, N.C.

    Attitude is everything

    Tom came to me as a 12.5 and, as of this month, is a 6.5 and trending downward. More impressive is the fact that this giant drop in his handicap occurred over the course of a few months.

    Every golfer has a "tragic flaw," and Tom's was an inability to turn his hips and shift his weight to his left side on his downswing. One of the first things we worked on was keeping his left foot planted and in position to accept weight as he made his way back down to the ball. It didn't take long for Tom to learn the move and erase his tragic flaw. He's now hitting the ball longer and straighter than ever.

    What really helped Tom, though, was his attitude. He was serious about improving. He arrived at each lesson with questions and detailed reports on the status of his game. He took notes during our sessions and faithfully brought a CD to copy a video of his swing to take home and analyze. He charted his progress and and learned to selfdiagnose. Not only did this benefit Tom, but it helped me better direct lessons to match what he felt were his wants and needs.

    Tom fully expected the learning process to take time, so he kept every gain and fall in perspective. It's amazing that such longrange expectations fueled one of the quickest turnarounds I've seen in 30-plus years of teaching.

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