Putting Is Personal

By Dean Sklar, PGA Professional

Having a balanced, smooth swinging stroke is of crucial importance when putting. The image I use to visualize this is that of a pendulum – something that swings slow and steadily through a complete arc of motion, with even tempo throughout. The end of the putter forms the bottom of the pendulum, your arms provide the smooth motion.

Having a firm, balanced, solid base is an important part of putting. You need to hit the ball at the right point in your arc and get it going in a straight line. Putting your feet in the right place and connecting to the ground properly facilitates this. You want to have your feet about shoulder width apart and your eyes are more or less over the ball.

On putts of more than 30 feet in distance, pace is much more important than line. Remember, a 2-putt is all you’re aiming for, so the first putt is all about getting the distance right. A useful trick to help you with this task is to visualize a circle the size of a street manhole cover around the hole. Your goal is to get the ball within this circle in order to make the second putt an easy one.

Turning up at a golf course and expecting to perform well straightaway is unrealistic. Before going to the first tee, it pays to do a little practice or warm-up. Get yourself over to the practice green, get a bunch of balls and practice your putting stroke and get a feel for distance and pace on the greens. It’s all about building confidence for the real thing. Putting is so much about touch and feel, especially when it comes to judging distance. 

The next time you’re on the practice green working on distance putts, try closing your eyes on a few before and during the stroke. As long as you’re set up well there’ll be no problem in hitting the ball okay. With your eyes closed, focus on how the stroke feels, how the hands absorb the impact of the ball on the putter face. Open your eyes and see how you did for distance. Close them again and keep practicing until you develop a sense for how good lag putting feels as well as looks.

Don’t be tempted to spend long amounts of time agonizing over how different putts are going to break. As long as you’ve worked out an approximation of borrow, a ball to the right or inside left edge for example, just play the shot and don’t dwell on it. Your green reading skills will improve with time and experience.

Just like with the longer clubs or indeed any shot in golf, you must develop a routine and stick to it.  Obviously, careful thought and planning should go into any decent putting routine.

Ask your local PGA Professional to challenge you to a putting match on the practice green and see the way they line up their putts and go through their own routine. Remember, practice makes perfect.

PGA Professional Dean Sklar is a member of the Quarter Century Club of the PGA of America, an elite group of members who have served the PGA with honor and pride for 25 years. If you would like to talk to Dean about your golf game, contact him at [email protected] or the Rose and Dean Sklar Real Estate Group at Coldwell Banker, 1760 Bell Tower Lane in Weston, 954-389-6197, or online at www.WestonFloridaUSA.com.