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How to practice putting


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#1 LouieLouie

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 05:00 PM

My apologies if this has already been covered in another thread, but I did a search and couldn't find anything.

Anyway, I don't think I ever learned how to practice putting. I have a good consistent stroke, but how should I practice putting in order to lower the number of putts I take during a round?

I feel like I can read the greens pretty well, but I think my judgement of how hard or soft to hit the ball needs improvement. Can anyone suggest the best way to practice putting?

Thanks.


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#2 LouieLouie

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:20 AM

Perhaps this needs to be in a different forum or are all of us clueless about how to practicing putting? haha

Edited by LouieLouie, 18 January 2013 - 09:21 AM.


#3 TheCityGame

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:15 AM

"Practice" is a forbidden word around here. Ask where your right index finger needs to be on the backstroke, and you'll get a million answers.


This is how I break down putting. . .

Mechanical:

1) Can I hit the ball on my intended line.
2) Can I hit the ball at my intended speed.

Non-mechanical:

1) How do I identify the intended line?
2) How do I identify the intended speed?

So, for the mechanical issues. My main things have been an indoor putting mat, or identifying "easy" straight putts on a putting green. And, hitting a ton of putts. if you find a straight, flat putt, you should be sinking all of your 3-footers. You should be able to make 15 straight 4-footers. Thousands of putts so that you know how to roll a ball on the line you intend. As to getting the intended speed. . .the most crucial thing is CONSISTENT CONTACT. You need the same swing speed to produce the same ball speed or you will never have good distance control. I've trained this through repetition. Putting balls over and over into a pillow or a boot, or anything on the floor so that I have elminated toe strikes, heel strikes, "thin" strikes, scuffs. Hit the sweet spot. Everytime. Absolutely key to distance control.

Non-mechanical: you gotta get out there. 100 3-footers in a ring. 50 6-footers in a ring. If you practice enough, you'll really start to notice how on the course, you've seen that putt before.

For "touch", I like to take about 10 balls, roll one out there about 10 feet, and then keep rolling each next ball about 1 foot past the previous ball (leap frog drill). Also, I like to put a ball a few feet from the fringe, and try to putt from different distances to get between the target ball and the fringe. These are touch drills, you don't need to be putting to a hole all the time.

To improve your judgement on how hard/soft, a good thing to practice is a 6 foot side-hiller. Hit a putt that "dies" into the hole. Hit a putt that you ram into the hole. Hit a putt that splits the difference. Learn how different your starting line has to be for each type of putt. Do it for more distances and breaks.

Sometimes you don't know if you mis-read or mis-hit a putt. I support trying 10 putts in a row from the same spot, say a 12 footer. You'll get the read after a couple putts, so this takes the element of a "mis-read" out of the question. A that point, it's just a question of "can I hit the putt I intended to hit?"

I got serious about practicing putting last year and my putting COMPLETELY responded.

In short. . .

Indoors: putting mat for straight putts. Something on the floor to ram putts into to improve contact.

Outdoors: 100 3-footers (in a ring). 50 6-footers in a ring. Leap frog drill. Repeat from same spot drill.

Lastly, identify and practice your SPECIFIC WEAKNESSES.

#4 LouieLouie

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:07 AM

Thanks a lot CityGame. I am just clueless about how to efficiently and effectively practice putting. This is a great start for me and I'm going to try this out this weekend! Thanks again!

#5 TheCityGame

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:40 AM

OK, but, it takes patience. You need to tell yourself, "this YEAR I'm going to get better at putting." I swear if you stick to a routine where you practice this stuff at least once every week, you'll get better.

Also.. . that's what worked for ME. Other guys probably have different routines. I think if you spent as much time on a  practice green as I did last year, you could do almost anything and get better. Probably, the best thing about the "100 3-footers, 50 6-footers" (which I got from someone else on this site) is just that it gives you a task, something to focus on and count and finish, so you're not just going out there and lolly-gagging. You can feel good about accomplishing something.



It's hard to notice improvement in golf and putting, but one day you'll come off the course and you'll go, "man, I shot low and I didn't even feel like I played all that well" And you start thinking about it and you go, "well, I sunk that birdie putt on 12, and that was a good 2-putt on 7, and I got up and down for par on 15 and I only had one 3-putt" and all of a sudden, you're playing 3-4 strokes better than you were.


#6 juliette91

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:44 AM

View PostTheCityGame, on 18 January 2013 - 10:15 AM, said:

"Practice" is a forbidden word around here. Ask where your right index finger needs to be on the backstroke, and you'll get a million answers.


This is how I break down putting. . .

Mechanical:

1) Can I hit the ball on my intended line.
2) Can I hit the ball at my intended speed.

Non-mechanical:

1) How do I identify the intended line?
2) How do I identify the intended speed?

So, for the mechanical issues. My main things have been an indoor putting mat, or identifying "easy" straight putts on a putting green. And, hitting a ton of putts. if you find a straight, flat putt, you should be sinking all of your 3-footers. You should be able to make 15 straight 4-footers. Thousands of putts so that you know how to roll a ball on the line you intend. As to getting the intended speed. . .the most crucial thing is CONSISTENT CONTACT. You need the same swing speed to produce the same ball speed or you will never have good distance control. I've trained this through repetition. Putting balls over and over into a pillow or a boot, or anything on the floor so that I have elminated toe strikes, heel strikes, "thin" strikes, scuffs. Hit the sweet spot. Everytime. Absolutely key to distance control.

Non-mechanical: you gotta get out there. 100 3-footers in a ring. 50 6-footers in a ring. If you practice enough, you'll really start to notice how on the course, you've seen that putt before.

For "touch", I like to take about 10 balls, roll one out there about 10 feet, and then keep rolling each next ball about 1 foot past the previous ball (leap frog drill). Also, I like to put a ball a few feet from the fringe, and try to putt from different distances to get between the target ball and the fringe. These are touch drills, you don't need to be putting to a hole all the time.

To improve your judgement on how hard/soft, a good thing to practice is a 6 foot side-hiller. Hit a putt that "dies" into the hole. Hit a putt that you ram into the hole. Hit a putt that splits the difference. Learn how different your starting line has to be for each type of putt. Do it for more distances and breaks.

Sometimes you don't know if you mis-read or mis-hit a putt. I support trying 10 putts in a row from the same spot, say a 12 footer. You'll get the read after a couple putts, so this takes the element of a "mis-read" out of the question. A that point, it's just a question of "can I hit the putt I intended to hit?"

I got serious about practicing putting last year and my putting COMPLETELY responded.

In short. . .

Indoors: putting mat for straight putts. Something on the floor to ram putts into to improve contact.

Outdoors: 100 3-footers (in a ring). 50 6-footers in a ring. Leap frog drill. Repeat from same spot drill.

Lastly, identify and practice your SPECIFIC WEAKNESSES.

Thank you for your excellent post!  Funny how one of the most important parts of the game (I still think driving is number one) is rarely discussed in detail here, taking a back seat (or usually no seat) to the lastest technology or magic pill swing fix.

#7 swizbeatz

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:58 AM

Some awesome ideas from city game, thanks for the post.  The leap frog drill is something I'm gonna pass on to a friend this year, the putting green we go to can get packed in the evenings and you don't need a hole to practice that.
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#8 finalist

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:52 PM

Every stroke has a natural bias to either favor going left or right of the hole on a miss. Learn that.

Work on speed control more than line control. Speed deterrmines line. Speed control comes from a repeating stroke that strikes the face on the same spot (may not be the sweet spot, just the same spot)

Vision is another area to practice. Does your posture allow you to see the same things everytime the same way? Line to hole, ball position, etc.

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#9 swizbeatz

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:00 PM

View Postfinalist, on 18 January 2013 - 12:52 PM, said:

Every stroke has a natural bias to either favor going left or right of the hole on a miss. Learn that.

Interesting concept.  How would one go about doing this?  If I miss left or right, I made a bad stroke and try to correct it.  Basically over a huge sample size I would think missed putts would even out.
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#10 finalist

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:43 PM

View Postswizbeatz, on 18 January 2013 - 01:00 PM, said:

View Postfinalist, on 18 January 2013 - 12:52 PM, said:

Every stroke has a natural bias to either favor going left or right of the hole on a miss. Learn that.

Interesting concept.  How would one go about doing this?  If I miss left or right, I made a bad stroke and try to correct it.  Basically over a huge sample size I would think missed putts would even out.

http://puttertalk.co...oard,125.0.html

For example: TW's 2000 putting stroke was an arc that tilted to the right... sort of in to out, but still an arc. He would release the head like a draw. The whole stroke was very much like a draw. His gamers have always been based on heads that favor a release. If he didn't release the putt would miss to the right.

As far as finding your miss... I don't know enough, but Bruce Rearick in the link above definitely does. It's some of the VERY BEST putting talk I've ever read.

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#11 swizbeatz

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:10 PM

I clicked through to that forum, I'm assuming your talking about the top thread with a link to Bruce's blog?  Quick look didn't show anything about that or are you saying you can equate your stroke type to what your normal miss would probably be? Seems like tiger's miss could be closing too early just as easily as leaving the face open.
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#12 skraly

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:40 AM

View PostLouieLouie, on 17 January 2013 - 05:00 PM, said:

My apologies if this has already been covered in another thread, but I did a search and couldn't find anything.

Anyway, I don't think I ever learned how to practice putting. I have a good consistent stroke, but how should I practice putting in order to lower the number of putts I take during a round?

I feel like I can read the greens pretty well, but I think my judgement of how hard or soft to hit the ball needs improvement. Can anyone suggest the best way to practice putting?

Thanks.
   I will add what works fairly well for me.  I consider myself a better than average putter.  I read about this method in some golf mag. a while ago but which one escapes me right now.  My procedure is as follows, and I do this both at my home course and when I play elsewhere.  It is particularly useful on courses I have never played before.  It is based on two fundamental putting ideas.  One-speed control is paramount as speed controls line.  Two-you have to have confidence that you are going to putt well.  If you doubt yourself then all kinds of putting issues begin creeping into your stroke.
  When I first go to a putting green I start by practicing 20 footers to get an idea of green speed.  I try to get a feel for speed that will have the ball go no more than 18" past the hole if it misses.  Why 20 footers?  The basic idea is that at 20 feet and in you have a chance making a putt unless you are looking at a severe down hill or side hill putt.  Outside of 20 feet your odds of making a putt go down quickly as the distance increases.  So outside 20 feet you are in lagging mode.  Outside 20 feet your goal is to not 3 putt.  However if your speed is good you will get an occasional nice surprise.  Once I have a good feel for green speed I move to the 3-4 foot range.  I never putt 5-10 footers.  Why?  Because even the best make less than 50% of their 5-10 footers.  I want to feel confident that I can make those shorter putts and seeing the ball go in the hole time after time breeds confidence.  If possible I will try slight up hill, down hill and side hill putts from both sides of the cup.  But my main goal here is to see as many putts go in the hole as possible.  The best  I have ever done is 68 3 footers in a row.  Last I move out to 45 feet.  From this distance I am only trying to get a feel for green speed that will leave me with an easy two putt.  Above all else I hate 3 putting.  Why 45 feet?  If I can get a good feel for green speed at 45 feet it is easy for me to take a little off for a 30 footer or add a little for a 60 footer.  Plus you really don't have that many putts outside of 45-50 feet.  If I am putting form 80-90 feet, which is rare, I lower my expectations and realize even tour level players will 3 putt occasionally from this distance.
   I first started practicing putting this way about 3-4 years ago.  It has served me pretty well.  One last detail.  For any putt over about 6-8 feet I will pace off the distance so I have a pretty accurate idea of the distance of the putt.  This goes into my mental memory and I can seem to call up the required distance from past experience easier.  It is also helpful when I play an unfamiliar course.  At my home course I know it so well I can usually tell the distance almost to the foot from almost anywhere on any green.  At an unfamiliar course I can be fooled.  Once again, if I know the exact distance my memory helps me know how to hit the putt.  My biggest weakness is green reading on an unfamiliar course.  At my home course I might 3 putt once every 4th or 5th round.  It's not much worse on an unfamiliar course but I make far less shorter ones than at my home course due to what I consider my mediocre greens reading skills.  I hope this might help you.  At the least it is an easy to follow system that you can try to see if it will work for you.

#13 stryper

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 07:27 AM

View Postswizbeatz, on 18 January 2013 - 01:00 PM, said:

View Postfinalist, on 18 January 2013 - 12:52 PM, said:

Every stroke has a natural bias to either favor going left or right of the hole on a miss. Learn that.

Interesting concept.  How would one go about doing this?  If I miss left or right, I made a bad stroke and try to correct it.  Basically over a huge sample size I would think missed putts would even out.

Get the iPing app and cradle if you have a phone that can handle it.  If you don't have the phone, upgrade...it's worth it.  You're probably much more inconsistent than you think, and this little setup will show you; basically you'll quickly learn why you miss putts.  From there you can develop a strategy on how to correct the flaws in your stroke.  

Conversely, if you learn your stroke is fine, you then know it's a matter of green-reading and aim. The iPing won't help you there, but at least you then have another way to prioritize your practice and work on the things that will make the biggest difference in your putting.

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#14 CD17

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:43 AM

My putting drastically improved this last year when I

1. Practice putting with only one ball & to a tee, not a hole & go through your routine on each putt

2. Stand behind the ball & looked down the line & try to imagine the ball rolling across the green & dropping into the hole

3. Stopped taking any practice strokes

4. Move into the address position & aline my putter

5. One look at the target & hit

Some other points, don't try to get a putt close, try to hole it, or hit the tee, if you're trying to get it into the 3 feet circle & you miss by 3 feet, you're 6 feet away, if you try to hole it & you miss by 3ft, you are 3 feet away.

Always try to make practice harder than actual putting, so putting to a tee is good because you have made your target smaller & if you miss the tee you can always tell yourself you would have holed it anyway.

Putting to a tee is so good for a few reasons.

1. Holes on practice putting greens sometimes stay in the same position for a while & can become crowned.

2. You do not see yourself missing putts

Develop a selective memory, where you only remember the great putts you holed & either forget of accept the ones that miss

One more point I would highly recommend have your putting analysed in a putting studio & your putter fitted, I had this done also & now strike the putts so much cleaner, this will help massively with you distance control. They can adjust the lenght, lie & loft of your putter so you get the ball rolling sooner

#15 Flatstick77

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:25 AM

Check out Putting Doctor, Glenn Coombe's website, a lot of good useful information on putting


#16 mikpga

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:54 AM

#1 - Distance Control Focus
#2 - Short Putt Focus

To be a good putter, IMO, you must be very good from 3-4 feet and in...

And you must control your speed/distance well...

To be a great putter, IMO, you must be very good from 4-6 feet and in...

And you must control your speed/distance well...

"Very Good" simply implying making a high percentage...

#17 butch33611

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:43 PM

I've been doing a lot of putting practice this winter. I've found grip is a huge issue for me. If I dont have the exact right grip the ball goes left or right slightly depending on the error in grip. Now that I figured that out I work on 3 and 4 footers a lot. I figure if I can roll the ball straight for 4 feet a 6 footer is just a slightly stronger swing. My garage floor as a slight fall back to front as most do so I have about a 17 foot practice area. For straight putts I putt up and down the hill. For that slight break I putt side to side. Lastly this might sound stupid to a lot of people but I've played a lot tiger woods golf on the XBOX. In that game when your on the green you can get a putt preview. Its a green line that shows the path of the ball to the hole depending on the break. When im looking a real putt I imagine that green line from the ball to the hole and try and roll it on that line I have in my head.

Id say putting is like anything else. The guy who hits a million putts is going to be better then the guy who hits 100. There's no sustitute for practice even if it is boring.

#18 PuttingDoctor

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:13 AM

Focused Practice... random and blocked drills.  Speed and distance drills. Success drills to help you build your confidence.  Check your PM's.

#19 Hstead

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:37 AM

There is some very good information here for improving your putting.  Two things I would add:

First, my favorite drill for speed control is to take three balls, starting at three feet, make one ball hit the back of the cup liner firmly, then one that goes in the cup without hitting any of the liner, and then one that just barely gets to the front edge of the lip and barely falls into the cup like it was almost about to stop and then topples over.  Then back up a foot or two and repeat.  Once you can control your speed from 3 to 10 feet with the ability to hit the putts with those three speeds, firm off the back, swish, and barely getting to the front edge, your speed control will be awesome.  The difficult one is making the ball barely reach the front lip.  On the course, I use the SWISH speed for all putts if possible except severe downhillers.

Second, focus completely on how the ball is entering the cup.  What speed and where the ball enters specifically.  DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT, think of your stroke while trying to make putts.  I have traveled that path and it leads to a lot of missed putts.  Your brain has to focus on making the putt, not the stroke itself.  Good luck

Edited by Hstead, 21 January 2013 - 10:37 AM.

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#20 CD17

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:31 PM

View PostHstead, on 21 January 2013 - 10:37 AM, said:

There is some very good information here for improving your putting.  Two things I would add:

First, my favorite drill for speed control is to take three balls, starting at three feet, make one ball hit the back of the cup liner firmly, then one that goes in the cup without hitting any of the liner, and then one that just barely gets to the front edge of the lip and barely falls into the cup like it was almost about to stop and then topples over.  Then back up a foot or two and repeat.  Once you can control your speed from 3 to 10 feet with the ability to hit the putts with those three speeds, firm off the back, swish, and barely getting to the front edge, your speed control will be awesome.  The difficult one is making the ball barely reach the front lip.  On the course, I use the SWISH speed for all putts if possible except severe downhillers.

Second, focus completely on how the ball is entering the cup.  What speed and where the ball enters specifically.  DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT, think of your stroke while trying to make putts.  I have traveled that path and it leads to a lot of missed putts.  Your brain has to focus on making the putt, not the stroke itself.  Good luck

Very good advice :taunt:

Another simular drill that Brad Faxon used to do was to find a breaking putt & make the same putt at three different speeds.

1. Fast very little break

2. Softer more break

3. Really soft, lots of break


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