The basic elements of solid putting are building a repeatable stroke and having a good feel for distance. Mastering these through proper instruction and practice can help you build confidence and avoid three-putting – and give you a chance of making the putt anytime you are within a reasonable distance of the hole.
The Pendulum Stroke
Develop a smooth stroke that has the putter accelerating when it strikes the ball. The instruction book "Private Lessons" recommends thinking of the stroke like the fluid back-and-forth movement of a pendulum – almost as though the putter is swinging itself. This highly effective pendulum tempo should be used on putts of all lengths. On long putts, the golfer should take a longer pendulum swing rather than consciously trying to hit the ball harder.
Reverse Overlap Grip
One cause of an inconsistent putting stroke is the left wrist breaking down – hinging on the backswing and then unhinging as the club nears the ball. Changing from the standard Vardon or overlap grip – the right little finger lodged into the space between the left middle finger and forefinger – to a reverse overlap position can quickly stabilize the left wrist. Grip the club first with the left hand, placing the club between the heel and thumb pad. Place the right hand on the club and move the left forefinger so it overlaps the last two fingers of your right hand. Both thumbs extend down the grip and both palms are perpendicular to your target.
Conquering Short Putts
To make more short putts, first make sure your alignment is correct. Before you take your stance, place the head of the putter behind the ball and line the face up to your target line. Then take your normal grip and stance, being careful to keep the head of the putter in this square position. Eliminate tension in your stroke that can cause you to take the club back too quickly in a jerky motion. "Private Lessons" suggests "milking" the grip, gently squeezing and releasing the grip before you begin your stroke. Anxiety can also cause you to move your head during the stroke. This can be prevented by learning to listen for success – the putt falling into the hole – rather than looking at the hole.
Speed Control Drill
If you attend a professional tournament, you may see players on the practice green hitting putts to the edge of the green, trying to have the ball come to a stop in the margin between the green and the fringe. This helps them get a better gauge on the speed of the green and improve the distance control they will have when they get on the course. Instead of focusing on the cup, they are focusing on where they want the ball to stop and getting a feel for how the ball rolls on that particular green. Once out on the course, if they miss the hole on long putts, they will likely have short second putts.