In The Cup -- 15 Putting Tips, Lessons & Pointers That Can Change Your Life

“In golf, driving is a game of free-swinging muscle control, while putting is something like performing eye surgery and using a bread knife for a scalpel.”

“Terrible Tommy” Bolt (1916 to 2008), winner of the 1958 U.S. Open

There aren’t too many golf days ahead for those of us who live in colder climates. January and February almost always have their way.

However, whether you are housebound because of freezing temperatures or you are in quarantine because of Covid or you are enjoying warm days in one of our sunshiny states, you can and should be working on your putting. After all, on average, a golfer uses the putter over 40 percent of the time. So whether it is on your living-room carpet or on a perfectly groomed putting clock, you should always be searching for a tip, insight, reminder, idea or thought that may lead to more made putts and more bets won. As Scottish pro Willie Park Jr. (1864 –1925), winner of the 1887 and 1889 British Open, said, “The man who can putt is a match for anyone.” Perhaps one or two of the quotes below will speak to you.

In The Cup -- 15 Putting Tips, Lessons & Pointers That Can Change Your Life

“The majority of short putts are missed by looking for imaginary slopes and hitting the ball softly, trying to ‘baby’ it into the cup. -- TOMMY ARMOUR (1894 to 1968), the Silver Scot won three Majors: 1927 U.S. Open; 1930 PGA and 1931 British Open. He won all three of his Majors when he was in his 30s. 

“Practice is essential to good putting. Unfortunately, there is no alternative. Develop the feeling that the club is part of you. Handle it, use it, stroke balls with it whenever or wherever you can so that you have confidence in it as with an old friend. If you can’t get out for some reason, practice putting on a flat run; every bit of practice help.” -- JULIUS BOROS (1920 to 1994) won three Majors – the 1952 and 1963 U.S. Open and the 1968 PGA Championship. 

“Accurate putting is impossible when the body is swayed. And keep your eye on the ball, not looking forward anxiously to the hole just as the club hits the ball. This is very human but very fatal fault and it costs many holes to those who make it.” – Scottish professional JAMES BRAID (1870 to 1950) won the British Open five times (1901, 05, 06, 08, 10). He was also was a renowned golf architect.

“In standing over a putt, my first priority is comfort.” -- BOB CHARLES (Born 1936) is the first left-hander to win a Major. He won the British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1963.

“Keep the putter head low throughout the stroke. This helps keep your mind on the process of making a good, controlled stroke and prevents you from trying to steer the putt or looking up too soon to see if it’s going in. No matter how important the putt is, this swing thought makes you feel like you’re just rolling the ball on the practice green. -- PAULA CREAMER (Born 1986), winner of 10 LPGA tournaments, including one Major, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont.

“I suppose you'd have to say that one of the main reasons for my putting success is that I've tried to always keep my method simple. Leaning over the ball, I don't think precise or mechanical thoughts. I just stay loose, comfortable and easy. I think of the pace I want the ball to travel, then picture how far to the right or left ball should travel around the hole.  Think of it this way: The object is to see how close you can come to the hole every time.  The bonus is when, and if, the ball falls.” -- BEN CRENSHAW (Born 1952), who had 19 PGA Tour wins, including the Masters in 1984 and 1995. 

“I tried to never let one particular putt be more difficult than others. Some people don’t like a downhill left-to-righter. I liked to play my putts as if they were straight. I’d pick out a starting line. That was always easier for me to do.” -- BRAD FAXON (Born 1961) led the PGA Tour in putting three times -- 1996, 1999, 2000. In 2000, he set the season record for All-Time Lowest Putts Per GIR in a Season (1.704)

“Gripping the putter too tightly is one of the surest ways to miss a putt of any length, for it is proof in the first place that you are not relaxed and that you are over anxious.” -- WALTER HAGEN (1892 to 1969) won 11 Majors (U.S. Open: 1914, ‘19; British Open: 1922, ‘24, ‘28, ’29; PGA Championship: 1921, ‘24, ‘25, ‘26, ‘27).

“The best system for me is to stroke the ball with as smooth a swing as I can manage, and try always to gauge an approach putt, or any putt except the short holing-out efforts, to reach the hole with a dying ball.” -- BOBBY JONES (1902 – 1971), winner of 13 Majors, including the Grand Slam in 1930. At that time the four Majors were: British Amateur, British Open, U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur.

“Experienced golfers talk about missing on the ‘pro’ side of the hole, meaning they overestimated the amount of break on a putt. Amateurs rarely miss on the pro side because they underestimate the amount of curve. Try doubling the amount you think the putt will break.” -- Instructor DAVID LEADBETTER (Born 1952).

“If you’re missing a lot of short putts, try making a conscious – even exaggerated – follow-through along the path you want the all to take.” – 18-time Major winner JACK NICKLAUS (Born 1940).

“When I walk around a practice green on the PGA Tour, I can usually tell right away who's putting great. You can see everything in the finish. Guys who are putting awesome accelerate through the ball, so the putter-head and the lead shoulder finish low and forward. Even on soft, short putts, an assertive stroke is immediately recognizable.” – JORDAN SPIETH (Born 1993), winner of three Majors: 2015 Masters, 2015 U.S. Open and 2017 British Open.

“Playing on fast greens? Two keys: 1). When you hit putts gently, gravity has more time to work, so you need to account for more break than you think. 2) Make a short, slow backswing instead of a big, fast one – which forces you to slow the putter down through impact.” -- STAN UTLEY (Born 1962), a retired PGA pro who is currently an instructor who specializes in chipping and putting. 

“Aim the putter, then align your body.” -- TOM WATSON (Born 1949), who has won eight Majors.

“No Peeking!  If you’re like me, you can’t wait to see if the ball is tracking toward the hole right after the ball leaves the putterface. But the urge to glance up too soon has some nasty consequences. The tendency to peek too soon causes my head to move and leads to sloppy contact.” – 15-time Major winner TIGER WOODS (Born 1975).


Allan Stark

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