Within our first three installments this year, Andy has tried to help our readers get over the proverbial hump to play the best golf of their lives. The final and some may say the most important piece of that puzzle is putting. I can’t even begin to count how many 69’s I’ve turned into 74’s because of five makeable putts that all somehow fractionally missed. Hopefully through Andy’s careful instruction, we can all switch those numbers around!
Putting is the most misunderstood part of the game by many golfers. It’s simple, if you have the correct speed matched with the correct line the ball will go in the hole, period. So what does that tell you? We need to focus on speed and work on starting the ball on your intended line.
You should always think about speed before you think about the line of a putt. The speed will dictate the line 100% of the time. When practicing on my speed I like to put a tee a foot and a half behind the hole and then try to die the ball to that tee. This mindset of putting to a tee rather than the hole frees up my stoke.
To begin with, I line up four to five balls from the hole and space them out three to four feet from one another. Start your drill with the closest ball to the hole and then go back. The goal with this drill is to control your speed. To have consistent speed from the various lengths of putts, you must have a consistent pace of the putter head. To achieve that control with the putter head try to do these two things: Number one is to count one-two in your head when you make a stroke. Count one when you start your stroke and then two when you make contact with the ball. Number two is try to make the length of your backstroke and follow through the same length. These two thoughts will definitely improve the control of your putts from any length.
Set Up Drill
The set up is the other part of putting that I focus. Your set up will help you big time to control your direction and contact from day-to-day. When I say set up I’m talking about many things that need to be in order. Alignment with my toes, hips, and shoulders, ball position, distance from the ball, eyes over the ball, squaring the putter face to the target. Create your own check list and never change it. I like to use a putting mirror (see photo) or you can also use a chalk line. When using a putting mirror, I like to pick a straight putt about four to five feet in length and hit about 100-150 putts from there. All I’m doing here is simply getting comfortable with all the things I listed on my setup check list and then trying to start the putt on line. It’s a dead straight putt so if I push or pull the putt I know it’s me. The mirror really helps with alignment with the body and putter face. On the mirror there is a line that you would use to line up to the target and a perpendicular line used for the putter face. The actual mirror itself helps with making sure your eyes are directly on top of the ball because you can obviously see yourself and where your eyes would be.
So there it is – speed and line always in that order. I would bet if you ask the best putters on the PGA Tour what they think about when they putt, their answer would be a version of the same mind set. Remember speed will always dictate your line. Keep the process simple and try to make a freed up stroke. Hopefully now the hole gets it way more often than not.
Please shade differently as always [if tight on space use smaller pix of him]
Andy Podolak is the Head PGA Golf Professional at Fire Ridge Golf Club in Grafton, Wisconsin. Andy is currently in his 10th year and before his days at Fire Ridge he played professionally on NGA/Hooters, Various Mini Tours and many Nationwide/ PGA Tour qualifiers. Andy’s lesson rates start at $45 per half hour or $75 per hour session. Various lesson packages are also available and he can be reached at Fire Ridge GC by calling 262-375-2252 or via email at email@example.com. Also visit Andy’s facebook page at Podolak Golf Instruction.