Golf Putting Tutorial

By Brian Hill
A sound putting stroke resembles a pendulum.
A sound putting stroke resembles a pendulum.

If you watch several golfers on the practice green, you may notice how different their putting styles are. Over time, golfers learn to make subtle adjustments in their stance, grip and ball position while still adhering to the basic fundamentals of putting. Good putters rely on a sound and dependable putting stroke that creates confidence on the greens.


Seeing the correct target line is crucial to starting a putt on the right path. After marking their ball on the green, many golfers replace the ball by putting the name of the manufacturer along the line they want the ball to travel for the first few feet. Another option is to draw a line on your ball as an aiming guide. Stand so your eyes are directly over the ball as you line up the putter. To find the ideal ball position, take your stance, look down and drop a ball from the bridge of your nose. The spot where it lands is where you should address the ball.


Two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange is one of many great players who prefer the reverse overlap grip when putting because it allows the hands to work together and prevents the left wrist from hinging or breaking down during the stroke, if you are right-handed. With this grip, the left index finger rests in the space between the middle and ring fingers of the right hand. He cautions against holding the putter too tightly, which can reduce the sensitivity in your hands that gives you a feel for distance on putts.


The instruction book "Private Lessons" recommends standing with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Distribute your weight evenly. Flex your knees to to remain stable over the ball. Tilt forward from your hips and let your arms hang freely. Your shoulders should be parallel to your target line. To check this, hold the putter across the top of your chest to see where the shaft points.

Rocking or Pendulum Motion

The shoulders and arms should form a triangle shape at address. Maintain this triangle as you swing the putter. The stroke consists of a rocking motion in the shoulders that produces a path like the sweep of a pendulum. One of Jack Nicklaus' putting fundamentals is to remember to keep the putter low to the ground as you swing back and through.

Head and Body Remain Still

Head movement during the stroke pulls the shoulders out of the correct pendulum-like path. Many good putters use the simple technique of listening for their putts to drop; this keep the head completely still. Also keep your lower body still as you putt. Nicklaus suggests putting more weight on the balls of your feet, which makes it harder to inadvertently move your legs during the stroke.

Learn Distance Control

Golfers often three-putt from 30 feet and beyond not because they badly misjudge how the putt will break, but rather because they hit the putt way too short or get too aggressive and bang it by the hole. To get a better feel for the right distance, "The Golf Book" recommends putting a line of tees in the ground starting 20 feet away from the cup and moving outward toward the edge of the green at three-foot intervals. Putt to the first peg, then the second and so on until you have hit a ball next to each peg. This drill helps you learn to see a distance and translate it into a feel for how hard you should hit the ball.

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