Make Your Putts Slide

June 22, 2007

The standard putter today has 3 to 6 degrees of loft, not much less than most drivers. The loft is needed because the ball sits in an indentation and must come out of this hole before it begins to roll.

Ideally, the ball will glide the moment it leaves your putter until the time it starts to roll end over end. According to Scotty Cameron, designer of Scotty Cameron Putters by Titleist, the optimum loft at impact to produce this glide is 4 degrees. try these drills to make sure you’re getting this right amount of loft on your putts.

The Test: Let the hole be the judge

To ensure that you are hitting putts with the correct amount of loft, place a ball about 1.5 inches behind a hole and strike it as if you were hitting a 20-foot putt. Contacted with 4 degrees of loft, the ball will glide approximately 6 to 12 inches and thus carry the hole, which is 4.25 inches in diameter. Line up several balls this way and putt them over the hole. If there’s too little loft on the putter at impact, the ball likely will hit the hole and pop up. Too much loft and the ball will carry the hole by several inches. You want it to just clear the back lip.

How to get the correct loft: Start and finish at 90

If your results in the test are less than perfect, here’s how to get the proper amount of loft. Set up with the putter shaft straight up and down–90 degrees to the putting surface. Your weight should slightly favor your left foot, with your eyes over the ball and your hands in line with your biceps. The ball should be just forward of center in your stance. Keep a constant triangle in your arms while returning the shaft at impact to the same 90-degrees angle.

  • Forward press alert: If you employ a forward press, make sure to lean the shaft back one or two inches at address.

Three questions with… Scott Sackett

What is the one tip you most frequently give your students? Well, there are two actually. 1) Make sure your upper body is tilted to the right (right shoulder lower than left) at address, and 2) Make your grip stronger (the Vs formed by the thumb and forefinger of each hand should point to your right shoulder). You can give this advice to 90 percent of people playing the game.

Your father-in-law, Al Mengert, competed in 29 majors, including eight Masters. Any favorite stories from Al about his playing days? When Al was the head pro at Moon Valley Country Club (in Phoenix), the late Karsten Solheim, creator of PING, made his first putter and brought it to him. Al hit a few putts with it and Karsten asked him what he thought. Al handed it back to him and said to put it in a novelty shop because it will never sell.

To whom would you most like to give a lesson and why? Lance Armstrong, because he has great drive for everything he does. If he decided he wanted to be a single-digit golfer, he would accomplish that mission. No doubt.

SCOTT SACKETT is director of instruction at the PGA TOUR Golf Academy in St. Augustine, Fla.