Proper Golf Putting

By Josh Baum
Even short putts can be difficult, depending on slopes and gradients.
Even short putts can be difficult, depending on slopes and gradients.

A successful putt is one that ends with the ball in the hole, and golfers have found more than one way to achieve that goal. Proper putting isn’t a strict matter of adhering to one style while avoiding the others; it’s a process of trying techniques, learning what works and practicing regularly. Each golfer must find his own putting method, but successful techniques have basic principles in common.

Read the green. Survey the slopes to see which direction gravity might carry the ball. Get low to read the green; some golfers kneel, but others lie flat on their stomachs to view subtle dips and hills. Read the green from behind the ball and visualize the path that the ball will have to take to reach the hole.

Approach the ball and take a proper stance. The feet should be perpendicular to the line of the putt. The putter should should rest in the center of the stance with the ball just in front of the putter, while the golfer's head hovers directly over the line of the putt.

Grip the putter. A single correct way to hold a putter has not evolved. Golfers may use a standard grip with the dominant hand lower or a cross-handed grip with the dominant hand higher (known as "left hand low" for right-handed golfers). Regardless of the style of grip, the palms of the hands should face each other, with neither hand dominating the putting stroke.

Visualize the shot. Take a few practice putts behind the ball, picturing the path of the putt and considering the speed. The firmer the putt, the less the ball will break; the softer a golfer hits the ball, the more it will break.

Stroke the putt. Control the grip so the putter face hits the ball squarely. Twisting the grip will send the ball off line. Keep the elbows and arms fixed in relation to each other while rocking the shoulders to push the putter on a straight line. Think of the arms as a pendulum, swinging backward and forward in a smooth, controlled motion.

Practice regularly. Vary the length and lies of the putts to gain confidence and experience.

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