Have you ever heard of the immensely popular golf phrase, “You drive for show, but you putt for dough”? That’s because over 40% of your strokes during a round are with the putter! Sadly, lots of golfers never seem to get around to practicing their putting and this costs them dearly on their scorecards.
When I first started playing golf, my PGA teaching professional told me that phrase quite often. He did this to remind me to spend just as much time on the putting practice green as I did on the driving range, if not more. Once I started heeding his advice, my overall golf game improved rapidly.
Is your putting stance keeping you from shooting your lowest score ever? Here are some quick tips to help you improve your putting stance. These are some simple things to remember when you are practicing at the putting green.
1. Find the Proper Stance Width
Two keys to hitting great putts are having balance and stability. In order to maximize balance and stability, spread your feet out slightly wider than your shoulders during your set-up. The best way to do this is to stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart, then move each foot one to two inches away from each other.
Why do we want a wide stance when putting? Not only will you stay more balanced throughout your putt, but a wide stance will help limit your head movement. Any type of head movement before or during your putt will decrease your accuracy.
How wide of a stance is too wide? Well, you never want to feel uncomfortable while putting. If your stance is putting unnecessary stress on your back, hips, or knees, consider standing a little bit more narrow. The ideal putting stance is wide enough to maintain balance but narrow enough to keep you comfortable.
2. Practice the Perfect Ball Position
To sink more birdie putts, you have to make sure you position the ball properly in your stance. The perfect position for the golf ball is right in the center of your stance. This will put you in the ideal position for sinking more birdies and eagles.
It may help to picture an imaginary line right in the middle of your stance. That’s exactly where you want the ball. Keeping the ball right in the middle of your stance will ensure that the golf ball is aligned right between your eyes. The most talented putters in the game keep their eyes directly over the ball.
When you line up with the ball in the center, you ensure that you’ll make contact with the ball at the bottom of your swing arc. This will get the ball started with the necessary amount of speed. Speed is the most important factor to having more success on the putting green.
If you play the ball too far towards your back foot, you’ll often hit the ball with too much force and it’ll run by the hole. If you play the ball too much toward your front foot, you’ll catch the ball at the end of your putting stroke and it likely won’t have enough speed to get to the hole. Obviously, neither one of these results are what we’re looking for on the putting green.
3. Aim for a 50/50 Weight Distribution
When working on your putting posture, aim to keep your weight equally distributed. This means you want the same amount of weight on each leg. This will lead to better balance, increased stability, and less head movement.
If you put too much weight on either leg, it will change your swing path and decrease your consistency. If you have too much weight on your right foot, the bottom of your swing arc moves too far back. If too much weight is on the left foot, the opposite is true.
Remember, we never want the swing arc to change. Try your best to maintain that perfect 50/50 balance throughout your entire stroke. Your scorecard will thank you for doing so!
4. Don’t Forget to Practice Your Putting Grip
We’ve discussed in great detail how important your grip is when making normal golf swings. Having the proper grip is also crucial to reaching your full potential with the flat stick! Here’s a quick drill you can perform to make sure your grip is correct.
- Let your arms hang naturally out in front of your body
- Hold the putter shaft with both of your palms facing each other
- Practice hitting a few putts while making sure that the back of both your right hand and left hand are following through with a straight line toward your target
Also, make sure your grip pressure is correct. Just as with your normal golf swing, you never want to grip the shaft too tight. If you can see white on either of your thumbnails, your grip is too tight. Loosen up and don’t choke your putter.
5. Check Your Alignment
Having the proper alignment is critical to putting success. If your alignment is off by the slightest of margins, you’ll find yourself pulling or pushing putts just outside the hole. Work on keeping the shoulders square towards your intended line.
The best way to make sure your shoulders stay square at impact is to putt cross-handed. Lots of players on the PGA Tour employ this method when they’re in the midst of a putting slump. If you’re right-handed, simply practice some putts with your left hand lower than your right hand on the shaft. (If you’re a leftie, it’s obviously the other way around)
It may feel a bit weird at first so it’ll take some time to get used to the feel of it. Once you feel more confident in your alignment, you can always go back to your normal putting stroke with your left hand on top.