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Drills to hit the best putts you possibly can

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I had just hit a 6 iron pin high, about 15-feet right on No. 17. I was about to play my second-to-last hole in the 108-hole European Tour Qualifying Tournament, and was either right on the cut line or one shot from getting my tour card.

I remember walking up to the green thinking that I hadn’t made many putts that day, and I was due (jedi mind tricks on myself). I just kept telling myself to go through my routine and hit the best putt I could. That was my goal. I had practiced and prepared to the best of my ability and on that day, I holed the putt. The process helped me a great deal, and I went on to secure my tour card, tying for the last spot by making birdies on Nos. 17 and 18.

The process and practice routines I used to make clutch putts down the stretch have no magical formula; any a golfer of any level could hole the putts that I made. I’ll share what I’ve used to practice and prepare to make putts in my career, and if this helps you make some putts, well, who doesn’t like to make putts? Here’s my short list of priorities.

  • Great putters don’t care if the ball goes in or not. I’m serious.
  • Speed rules.
  • Hit putts where you are aimed, which is more difficult than it sounds.

A little disclaimer before we get going; I’m going to share with you what I’ve used for years to work on my putting. I’m not getting paid to promote certain products; I just know what works for me and if that helps you, fantastic.

Here’s what I’m looking for during my practice sessions.

Alignment

golfwrxputting1

The first image is a typical practice setup I would use. The thing on the ground is made by Dave Pelz, and it gives me feedback about my setup and my putting stroke. Once I’ve got a good read on the putt, I’ll use some tees to anchor the device to the green and get to work. In this image, I’m looking for a couple things.

  • The coin on the ground, in coordination with this device, gives you great feedback about where you are aimed, letting you know exactly what it feels like to aim at that coin on the ground. You are teaching your mind, body, and eyes how to aim properly, which is very important in putting.
  • By gently pushing the putter face up against the device, you know the putter is perfectly aligned and perpendicular to the starting line of the putt.

Eye Line

putting2

This image shows where your eyes are in relation to the starting line of the putt. A quick way to check your eye position without this aid is to get over a putt like you’re ready to hit it, but have an extra ball in your hand. Then hold the ball right in front of your eyes and drop it. Where the ball lands shows where your eyes are positioned in relation to the line of the putt. I’ve always putted with my eyes just inside of the line, which is represented by the image below.

This image below shows what it would look like if your eyes are too far over the line of the putt.

putting3

Most great putters I’ve known operate with their eyes slightly inside the line of the putt or directly over the line of the putt. Here’s an image of the overall setup. You’ll see the tiny gap under the ball and the putter flush against the device. That shows me that I’m perfectly lined up with my eyes just inside of the ball.

putting4

Hitting Putts

The goal with all of this is to start the ball on the line you have chosen for the speed you’ve chosen. In the images above, you’ll see two little steel marbles at the end of the device. If you’re not starting the ball online, the ball will hit one of these ball bearings and you’ll get immediate feedback. You’ll have to intuitively figure out how to consistently get the ball through the two bearings. Sometimes the path of the putter head may travel too far inside or outside, and sometimes the putter face will be closed or open at impact. This is where you learn how to hit putts on line consistently. Start with comfortably hitting putts through the widest setting then slowly move the bearings in as you become more consistent.

Taking It To The Course

When I get on the golf course, all I’m trying to do is imagine every putt I hit is coming out of this device. I simply have to aim myself correctly for the speed I’ve chosen. It doesn’t matter if the putt breaks one way or the other. All you can do is hit the best putt you are capable of hitting on the line you’ve chosen. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this was all I was thinking about when I holed that putt on the second-to-last hole of European Tour qualifying.

Here’s the same putt without the training device, a putt you’d likely see on the golf course. I try to find something 8-to-12 inches in front of my ball I can use as a reference for alignment.

See the leaf on the ground. Even though it’s close to my line, I’m not going to move it because if I hit it I’ll probably miss the putt. You can look for anything on the green to help you line up your putt: old ball marks, discolorations, etc.

putting5

Knowing I’m aiming just inside the leaf, I’ll get over the putt and imagine the device sitting on the ground with the white line aimed just inside of the leaf. Once I get over the ball, I know I’m aimed to the best of my ability and the only thing left to do is pull the trigger.

Remember, all you can do is hit the best putt you can. Once the ball leaves your putter face, there is nothing you can do. Sometimes bad putts go in, and sometimes great putts don’t. The most important thing you can do is create a measurable, consistent setup. Once you get on the golf course, you’re just picking a line, using your setup and letting go of the outcome.

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Rob earned a business degree from the University of Washington. He turned professional in June of 1999 and played most mini tours, as well as the Australian Tour, Canadian Tour, Asian Tour, European Tour and the PGA Tour. He writes for GolfWRX to share what he's learned and continues to learn about a game that's given him so much. www.robrashell.com Google Plus Director of Instruction at TOURAcademy TPC Scottsdale www.touracademy.com

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. KA

    Jun 7, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I got one of these devices about two months ago and it’s drastically changed my putting for the better. When you roll those putts through the marbles on the tour setting you gain so much confidence. It was also an eye opener on playing enough break. Worth every penny of that $50!

    • Rob Rashell

      Jun 7, 2014 at 10:00 am

      KA,

      Agree, very simple and very effective, an eye opener for people who have never used it. Takes a bit to get used to rolling the ball through the close setting and ramps up the quality of your practice.

      Rob

  2. Jadon

    Jun 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Where can you get one of these used? Pelz website has them for $50. That’s too much. I can rig something up similar just not as fancy for less than $50.

    • Rob Rashell

      Jun 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      J,

      Pelz website only place I’ve found that has them. Let me know if you find another place that sells them.

      Rob

  3. Rob Rashell

    Jun 4, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Jeff,

    Thanks! You more of a feel player?

    Rob

  4. jmichael204

    Jun 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Good article because I feel we get too wrapped up in telling people how to gain an extra 15 yards on our drives. Becoming a better golfer will always come from being better around the greens and putting. Putting is also something you can work on at home if you can’t make it out to the course regularly.

    • Rob Rashell

      Jun 4, 2014 at 10:13 am

      204,

      You bet, I used to spend hours in front of the tv rolling putts on the carpet. Thanks for the thoughts.

      Rob

  5. Todd Turner

    Jun 3, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Great device.. It works and is easily stowed in bag.

    • Rob Rashell

      Jun 4, 2014 at 10:16 am

      TT,

      Have you spent time hitting putts with Pelz’s device? Has it helped to improve the quality of putts you hit?

      Rob

  6. Jeff

    Jun 3, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Solid article. Not too techy.

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Instruction

The 3 best ways to train your golf swing

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Understanding how to effectively train and practice is critical to transferring skills to the golf course.

In golf, I view training as a thoughtful, deliberate rehearsal of a motion to develop technique. This is better rehearsed away from the golf course. Practicing golf consists of developing your skill to take to the golf course—an example being learning to hit shots in certain winds and shot shaping.

“A lawyer will train to be a lawyer, then he or she will practice law” – The Lost Art of Golf

I find the below examples the best ways to train effectively. These techniques will also help facilitate a swing change and make your training and practice more efficient.

Mirror Work

I like my student to implement what I call “mirror work”. This is done by looking into a mirror from the face-on position.

This is a great way to get external feedback (information delivered from an outside source). Learning by external feedback will help facilitate the required body movement to produce a particular shot. It’s also a cheap and effective way to train. Research suggests observation in a mirror is considered external, so the use of mirrors will elicit external feedback, enhancing the learning process.

I prefer students to only check positions from the face-on view. If a player starts checking positions in a mirror from down-the-line, moving your head to look in the mirror can cause your body to change positions, losing the proper direction of turn.

Train Slow

Learning a new motion is best trained slow. At a slower speed, it is easier to monitor and analyze a new motion. You will have increased awareness of the body and where the shaft is in space. At a faster speed, this awareness is more difficult to obtain.

I often use the analogy of learning how to drive a car. First, you took time to learn how to position your hands on the wheel and position your foot next to the break. When comfortable, you put the car in motion and began to drive slowly. Once you developed the technique, you added speed and took the car on the freeway.

In martial arts, there are three speeds taught to students: Slow-speed for learning, medium speed for practice and fast speed for fighting. Again, the movement was trained slow to start. Once comfortable, the motion was put into combat. This should be similar to golf.

Finding Impact

Use an impact bag to get the feeling of impact and an efficient set-up. If you don’t have an impact bag, a spare car tire, bean bag or something light and soft that can be pushed along the ground can be used.

I like to refer to the impact bag as a “Push bag”. Start by setting up into the bag, lightly pressing the shaft into the bag. You will notice how your trail arm slightly tucks in and as your right shoulder drops below the left with your body leaning forward, an efficient set-up.

To get the feeling of impact swing the club back and down into the bag while maintaining your body shape. Don’t move the bag by hitting it, rather pushing it. Note how you maintain your wrist angles while pushing the bag (not flipping) and the right side of your body moves through impact.

Train your swing with these three training techniques to play better golf.

@KKelley_golf

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How posture influences your swing

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S0 what exactly is posture and how can it alter your swing? Posture is often the origin to a player’s swing pattern. I like to look at posture as the form of the body from the front view and down the line position at address.

“Shape” in posture is the angles our body creates at address. This includes the relationship between the upper and lower half of our bodies. This article will examine the importance of this shape from the face on view.

For an efficient posture that creates a simple, powerful, and repeatable swing, I like a player’s shape to be set into what I call their “hitting angles.” Hitting angles are similar to the impact position. In the picture below, note the body angles at address highlighted in green.

Once we are set into these hitting angles, the goal of the backswing is to maintain these angles, coiling around the spine. When these angles are maintained in the backswing, the club can return to impact in a more dynamic form of our set-up position. This creates minimal effort that produces speed and repeatability—essentially doing more with less.

The further we set up away from these hitting angles, our bodies will have to find impact by recovering. This is often where a player’s swing faults can occur. We want our body to react to the target in the golf swing, not recover to strike the ball.

Think of a baseball player or football player throwing a ball. When the athlete is in their throwing position, they can simply make the movement required to throw the ball at their intended target. If their body is contorted or out of position to make the throw, they must re-position their body (more movement) to get back into their throwing position, thus making them less accurate and powerful.

The good news about working on your posture is that it is the easiest part to control in the swing. Posture is a static motion, so our body will respond to 100 percent of what our mind tells it to do. It’s talentless.

Here is a simple routine to get you into these hitting angles.

To start, tuck in your trail arm making it shorter and below the lead arm, which makes your trail shoulder lower than the lead shoulder. This will give you the proper shape of the arms and wrist angles. Pictured right is Ben Hogan.

With these arm angles, bend from the hips to the ball and bump your body slightly forward towards the target getting ‘into yourself’. You may feel pressure on your lead foot, but your upper half will still remain behind the ball. Note the picture below with the blue lines.

Practice this drill using a mirror in front of you, head up looking into the mirror. Research has shown mirror work enhances motor skills and performance. Anytime you have external-focus based feedback, the learning process will escalate.

There are a lot of different postures on the PGA Tour and many ways to get the job done. There are no cookie-cutter swings, and players have different physiology. However, research and history have shown that an efficient posture gives us the best chance for solid contact and our desired ball flight. Work hard on the areas that are easiest to control: the set-up.

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Golf 101: How to chip (AKA “bump and run”)

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Although golf for a beginner can be an intimidating endeavor, and learning how to chip is part of that intimidation, this is one part of the game that if you can nail down the fundamentals, not only can you add some confidence to your experience but also you lay down a basic foundation you can build on.

How to chip

The chip shot, for all intents and purposes, is a mini-golf swing. To the beginner, it may seem like a nothing burger but if you look closely, it’s your first real way to understand contact, launch, spin, compression, and most importantly the fundamentals of impact.

What is a chip shot? A pitch shot?

Chip: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a 3-iron to a lob wedge that launches low, gets on the ground quickly, and rolls along the surface (like a putt) to the desired location.

Pitch: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a PW to a lob wedge that launches low- to mid-trajectory that carries a good portion of the way to your desired location and relies on spin to regulate distance.

Now that we have separated the two, the question is: How do I chip?

Since we are trying to keep this as simple as possible, let’s just do this as a quick checklist and leave it at that. Dealing with different lies, grass types, etc? Not the purpose here. We’re just concerned with how to make the motion and chip a ball on your carpet or at the golf course.

Think “rock the triangle”

  1. Pick a spot you want the ball to land. This is for visualization, direction and like any game you play, billiards, Darts, pin the tail on the donkey, having a target is helpful
  2. For today, use an 8-iron. It’s got just enough loft and bounce to make this endeavor fun.
  3. Grip the club in your palms and into the lifelines of your hands. This will lift the heel of the club of the ground for better contact and will take your wrists out of the shot.
  4. Open your stance
  5. Put most of your weight into your lead leg. 80/20 is a good ratio
  6. Ball is positioned off your right heel
  7. Lean the shaft handle to your left thigh
  8. Rock the shoulders like a putt
  9. ENJOY!

Check out this vid from @jakehuttgolf to give you some visuals.

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