Use a Chipping Swing on Really Long Putts

Use a Chipping Swing on Really Long Putts

1. A slight wrist hinge provides momentum. 3. Kick your right knee forward to shift left. <SPAN CLASS="picturesource">Leonard Kamsler</SPAN>

Did you happen to watch the putt I lucked in from 206 feet (almost 70 yards) on the 18th green at Whistling Straits, while filming a segment for The Golf Channel at the 2004 PGA Championship? I’m told it is the longest televised putt ever holed on a green (if you know of a longer one, please write to [email protected]). Pure luck it was, and I know I couldn’t make it again in maybe a million tries. I could never read the break of such a putt precisely, and I don’t practice enough on putts that long to have a good feel. But I did hit it solidly, and if it hadn’t gone in, it would have stopped close to the hole and I could have two-putted, which I’ll take every time!

That’s my point: The most important thing about long putts is to avoid three-putting. You’ll improve your scores more by learning to three-putt less frequently than by learning to one-putt more often.

In testing putts longer than 80 feet, I have discovered that most golfers putt better when they use a long, smooth chipping swing with their putter, which is what I did to hole that 206-foot monster. We teach this technique in our schools, and call it chip-putting. It requires standing taller over the ball, hinging your wrists slightly on the backswing, (1) adding a little body rotation through impact (2) and a long follow-through (3). It’s chipping with a putter.

Before you try this on the course, find the longest putt you can and practice this technique. By chip-putting, I think you’ll hit the putt more solidly than if you try to make a super-long putting stroke. Your distance control will be better and you’ll minimize your three-putts. And maybe, every once in a while, you’ll get lucky enough to roll one home.

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