Different Stokes: Tom’s Putting Tip

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, November 17th, 2017

Untitled-1(1)TOM WARD
TOMPWARD@SBCGLOBAL.NET

What’s the easiest shot in golf? It’s the gimmie putt. There’s
an old expression “there is golf and there is putting.”
There are many thoughts and theories on the putting stroke…it’s
the one stroke in golf that every one should be good at. But it
doesn’t work that way. Perhaps that’s why golf allows two putts on the
green when absolute perfect putting would sink them all in one.
On most regulation golf courses par is 72. If a player were to
hit all 18 greens in regulation, 50% of those strokes would be made
with the putter which translates into two putts per hole which would
total 36 putts per round. Since putting constitutes at least half of
the score it only makes sense to put some time in on the practice
green. That’s why the putter is one of the most valuable clubs in the bag.
Although the putting stroke is individual, there are many
variables to follow in producing a good consistent putting stroke.
Putting is a combination of concentration, confidence and touch. Any
putting stroke that finds one feeling free and relaxed, and allowing
the hands to smoothly stroke the ball is a good stroke.
There are a few simple drills that can help improve your putting
stroke. The key to good putting is to take the hands and wrists out of
the equation. That’s because under pressure we start gripping the club
tighter and this improper action can sabotage your stroke. The only
purpose of hands gripping the club is to hold it and not manipulate
it. The only contact we have with the club is the hands so it’s
natural to apply pressure when attempting to make a crucial putt. As
mentioned before …I have worked with numerous physically challenged
golfers over the decades. Some of them were blind or only had one arm
and all ended up being very good putters.
Notice the accompanying photo….the student started doing these
drills only a few feet away from the hole then moving farther away as
she improved. She is right handed and using a reverse grip as seen in
the top left photo highlighted with a circle around the hands. You’ve
probably seen this type of grip on the PGA and LPGA Tour by the
professionals as its pretty popular. This stroke is designed to take
the hands out of the stroke which is quite effective. I like this grip
because it helps make more of an arm and shoulder motion instead of
hands and wrists.
The top right photo shows her making a stroke with only the right
hand on the club. After a few strokes she could really feel how the
putter was moving down the line towards the hole. The bottom left
photo showcases her making a stroke with her left hand. This stroke
was much more difficult in controlling the putter head because the left
hand was weaker than the right. Once we walked through the correct
movement of her left arm she was able to make the necessary
adjustment.
The bottom right photo is her normal grip which ironically felt
strange after practicing with the other grips first. As we discussed,
when making the stroke the hands are only there for the ride..not to
guide the putter towards the hole.
I suggest mixing it up a little while doing these drills and had
Sue close her eyes while making these different strokes….this a
great way to learn to feel.  Another suggestion is to look only at the
hole when putting (instead of facing down at the ball.) As a result,
she made some great putts…even holing a number of them in
succession.
I highly recommend putting in more time on the practice green
because being a good putter is the greatest equalizer in the game of
golf. Having the ability to cut down on three putts and making
critical up and down putts to save par translates into better scores
and having more fun on the course.
Who knows, perhaps as you start holing more putts your playing
companions will look in amazement quoting the late child actor Gary
Coleman’s character Arnold from the popular NBC Show ‘Different
Strokes’ with his memorable catchphrase “Whatchu talkin’ about?” as
you drain another putt.
Tom Ward can be reached at www.teetimewithtom.com

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