You pull three putts in a row, and then push the next two, or some similarly distressing pattern. No matter what you try your putts won't start on line consistently.
Stop putting with the grip you use to hit power shots. You don't want to hit putts. Instead, angle your wrists slightly downward and move the putter grip out of your fingers and into the lifeline of your left hand.
Why it works:
Gripping clubs in your fingers allows your wrists to hinge freely and add power to your swing. That's great for your long game, but not for your putter. On the green, excess power is a big negative, so you should keep your wrist movement to a minimum. When you angle your wrists downward at address and grip your putter under your lefthand lifeline, your putter becomes an extension of your forearms. This neutralizes wrist movement and produces a much smoother putting stroke.
Try this: Use your lifeline
Hold a pencil in your fingers and move your wrist and hand in every direction. It's easy. Now slip it up into the lifeline of your hand and extend it up past your wrist. When you cock your wrist downward to get the pencil parallel to your forearm, the motion of your hand and the pencil becomes restricted. This is the feel you want in your putting stroke.
Most advice on escaping sand traps assumes nice, fluffy sand. The courses I play feature hard-packed, shallow sand that gives me fits. Suggestions?
Hard sand requires two things: (1) Your wedge cannot have too much bounce, and (2) the clubface must be wide open when it hits the sand (the open face and small bounce should allow it to slide under the ball). When the sand is so shallow even this technique won't work, chip the shot cleanly (ball-first contact). Clean contact requires practice, but it's a good shot to have.
I read an article about looking at the cup while putting. What is your take? Is this just for practice, or is it something I can use all the time?
To pull this off you need a solid and well-grooved stroke that will produce consistently good contact for speed control and also start your putts on-line. The more putts break, the more difficult this becomes (although it's not impossible). I know one PGA Tour pro who won a tournament looking at the hole on every putt. If you're going to use this technique you'll need many hours of practice first.
Research & Data: Wrist Motion Degrades Putting Accuracy
Loose wrists sink...
Well, not much actually. In testing, the Pelz Golf Institute measured a correlation between wrist motion (hinge and rotation) and accuracy in putting.
Our conclusion: The more "wristy" your stroke, the less likely you are to hole putts. Hinging your wrists adds power to your stoke, making distance control difficult to attain. Wrist rotation changes the starting line of your putt from one stroke to the next. Since wrist motion adversely affects distance and direction, why use it in your putting stroke?
Ye olde putting stroke
When you watch old films of Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, do you know why you see wristy strokes? These golfers putted on greens that would have rolled at speeds of 5 to 7 feet on the Stimpmeter. They needed wrist power to get the ball to the hole. Modern tournament green speeds of 10 to 12 feet require less power and more accurate touch for speed.