Develop a Sound Putting Stroke

Dave Pelz, one of the foremost short game and putting instructors in golf, offers schools and clinics across the U.S. Click here to find out more information.

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To improve putterface aim, place 10 balls in a circle three to four feet from the hole. Now try to hole them all, continuing until you do so. If you adjust well from putt to putt, you’re aiming the face correctly.

To groove a straight-back, straight-through stroke path, set two 2x4s on the green four feet from the hole, leaving enough room between them for your putterhead. Mark a pencil line in the middle of each board perpendicular to the target line; use these lines to check putterface alignment at address. Roll 20 to 30 balls from between the boards, trying to keep the putterhead from hitting either board.

Short but intense practice sessions are better than marathon sessions. Whenever possible, commit to 15 to 20 minutes of intense practice. Any longer and your focus, not to mention your back, will suffer.


How well should you roll your ball? Thanks to Golf Research Associates database, we can show you exactly how well golfers putt at every handicap level.

We’ve chosen one-putts from four to 10 feet and three-putts from 21 to 50 feet as prime indicators of putting prowess. Inside four feet there is little difference between most golfers, whereas at 10 feet most golfers two-putt most of the time. It’s in this four- to 10-foot distance that the better putter excels compared to poorer putters.

The 21- to 50-foot range was chosen because 95 percent of lag-putt attempts occur within it. Longer than 50 feet and everyone is likely to three-putt. Again, from 21 to 50 feet, the better putter shows the biggest advantage. Track your putts when you play and compare your percentages with the chart below. GOLF Magazine readers can receive a free three-round putting analysis from Golf Research Associates. Get more details at (click on On-line Putting Analysis) or call 800-628-4481.

Handicap Level Percentage of 1-putts Percentage of 3-putts from 4-10 feet from 21-50 feet PGA Tour 55% 9%
0-2 50% 10%
3-5 46% 13%
6-9 45% 14%
10-14 41% 20%
15-19 37% 23%
20-24 36% 25%
25-29 35% 29%
30-36 34% 44%

Source: Golf Research Associates