How to Putt From the Start

How to putt from the start.

This tip is all about how to putt from the start, and why putting is such an important part of the game, as I have mentioned in a previous post putting is 50% of the game, if it’s a par 72 golf course x 18 holes = 36 putts if you are putting in regulation, so as you can see an important part of the game.

If you look at the best putters over the years, whether it be Ben Crenshaw, Brad Faxon or right up to Jordan Spieth in today’s modern game, they all had one thing in common – they knew and know how to read a putt and to execute it precisely when making the stroke.

So I am going to look at ways of using pre-putt routines, you never know one of these might just suit your game, whether it be lining up your putts by eye, by using the putter as a pendulum or by knowledge of the green from previously playing the course, there will be a method that suits your game.

I prefer the plum line method, this is when you use your putter as a ‘plum’ line by closing one eye and lining up the shaft of the putter behind the ball and seeing where the line is as a quick reference, what I mean by this is shown in the next image. This method takes out any doubt you may have on which line you should be aiming at when looking at or reading the putt, it is not an exact science but is has worked for me for many years and with a bit of practice will definitely help your putt reading.

How to putt from the start - plum lining the ball

When you have got the rough line of the putt using this method you can then start looking at further details of what you think the ball will do when you decide on the putt. Is it downhill, is it uphill, does it break right to left or right to left, the grain of the green, spike marks around the hole, there is a lot to take into account prior to making your choice. But don’t be thinking this method will take me ages to do and my playing partners will think you are taking too much time.

All of these things can be done whilst you walk onto the green to mark your ball, waiting for your playing partners to play, in other words, you can be ‘stalking’ and looking at your putt while other things are happening around the green until it is your turn to putt, then this way you are not rushing your shot and have made an informed decision on the break and speed of your putt.

How to putt from the start - direction of break

As you can see I have made a very broad decision on what the golf ball will do when it nears the hole? I know it’s an uphill putt, I know that the ball will break from left to right and also that the hole is cut on the crest of the slope, so if the putt is over hit you could possibly end up further from the hole on the other side of the green – so all you need to do now is really focus on the pace or speed of the putt, and aim to get the ball to stop within say 12 inches/300 millimetres of the hole, preferably slightly past the hole so it has a chance of dropping in the hole if you have read the putt correctly. But one thing to take into account is that if the putt is hit over you are going to have a sneaky return putt to contend with, so aim for that 12 inch/300 millimetre mark then you can be confident off having a relatively short tap-in putt to finish the hole off with, getting too bold can and will result in a tougher putt to hole out, so always have in the back of your mind that if the putt doesn’t drop in the hole your return putt will be ‘tap in’.

Now that we have covered the reading of the putt, I want to add another tip to ensure that you start the ball off on the correct line of your selected path. The method in the image below shows how I mark the golf ball with a line, this enables me to line up the putt from behind the ball and the line is pointing in the direction of the break or line of the putt, all you need to do then is ensure that you line up the line on the ball with the line on your putter, if you have one that is, this will then take any doubts away of hitting the putt in the wrong direction from the offset.

How to putt from the start - Putter lined up with line on the ball

Hopefully, you are now starting to see how simple reading a putt can be but don’t be fooled just yet, now finally it’s all about the pace and speed of the green. This final tip I want to tell you about a couple of drills I use on the practice putting green prior to playing a round of golf regardless of the course I am playing, the practice green might not be exactly as the ones out on the course but they won’t be too far away on giving you some information on the speed, pace and whether or not the ball rolls true, remember the same green keeper keeps the practice green in good condition because that is the first green members or visitors see when they arrive, so it’s a pretty good indication on the state of the courses 18 holes out on the golf course.

My first tip on getting the feel for the green when practicing is role about 3 balls towards the hole, a bit like rolling marbles when you were a kid, this method will not only help you with the pace but also see if the greens are running true and online, plus you will be surprised how close you get the balls with this putting tip.

Secondly, hit about 6 putts using just one hand, use your right hand if you are a right-handed golfer and the left hand if you are a left-handed golfer, this is then sort of the same sensation or feel you have just experienced when rolling the balls like marbles towards the hole with that ‘rolling’ motion. The next time you are watching a professional golf tournament on the television just watch how many professional tour players use this method without striking the ball, they are going through the motion of using the one handed method getting the feel and muscle movement of making the putt when they are ready.

Once you have gone through the two warm-up drills on the practice putting green, you can now practice with your normal putting set up, you will immediately get that ‘feeling’ of the pace, speed and how the ball is going to roll, it has worked wonders for me over the years and I am confident it will work for you too.

So to recap on today’s putting tips:

  • Stalk your putt and use the plum line method
  • Look at the variables around the hole that can affect your putt
  • Aim for that 12 inch/300 millimeter ‘stopping zone’ to enable an easy tap in
  • Mark up your ball with a marker pen
  • Line up your putter with the line on the ball ensuring you are putting on the correct line
  • Get the feel of the greens on the practice putting green prior to playing
  • Roll about three balls like marbles towards the hole
  • Putt one handed with about 6 balls to get that same feeling or sensation
  • Then continue practicing with your normal putting set up
  • This will then give you a good insight on what the greens are like on the day

In my next post I will be talking about playing those little chip shots just off the green, it’s the same in practice as above with putting, but we will be looking at how to chip the ball onto your desired ‘putting’ path if you were lining up a putt, making the chip shot that will enable you to do this – little chips that land softly but have topspin on them, this keeps the ball rolling so it ends up being like a putt but executed by chipping the ball.

I hope that this post will help and assist your putting and lower your putting scores, and as always if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below, I am more than happy to respond to any questions or comments regarding this post.

Link here to a previous post on putting drills CLICK HERE.

Happy golfing as always!



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