Putting is probably the part of golf that is neglected the most in terms of practice, but if you don’t practice it there is no way around it! You simply can’t shoot good scores.
Basic putting lessons are as simple as practicing getting the ball in the hole. This can even be practiced at home with a putting practice mat, or even a putt return on your carpet.
Many golfers actually strike the ball very well and yet they play off many different handicaps. Being able to consistently putt well means you can hit the ball average, and still beat your handicap.
For a professional, this would mean still shooting under par just because their short game saved them. There are a number of professionals who are very good at this, and when they do occasionally strike the ball well they win tournaments.
Yes, there are some basic technical aspects you need to implement to putt well, but they are rather simple.
The way you grip the putter is generally personal preference, but I would suggest once you get comfortable with gripping the putter to just stay with it and never change.
Golfers that are changing their putting grips all the time generally struggle with putting, so don’t follow them.
The following is a common putting grip used by a lot of the worlds best golfers.
Place your left hand at the top of the club with your thumb pointing directly down the handle. Place your right hand with the right thumb pointing straight down the putter handle.
All that happens now is your left index finger will make contact with your right pinky, ring finger, and middle finger, and your right index finger and thumb will be on the bottom of the putter handle as shown.
There are a lot of other ways to grip the putter so what feels comfortable through experimentation is generally the best way to go.
The setup for a putt is almost like the full swing in which your arms hang straight down from the shoulders, but the difference is your eyes are directly over the ball. This means you will be bending from the hips to reach the ball.
To determine if you are close enough to the ball just drop a ball from your eyeline whilst in your setup position, and if it lands in the vicinity of the ball you are going to putt, you are good to go.
Practice putting mirrors are also a great help in getting you in the correct setup position.
Stance and Ball Position
The best ball position is slightly forward of centre but not by much. The ideal stance width is mainly personal preference, but you want to be comfortable. You will see a range of different stance positions based on which putter a player uses and what feels comfortable.
The putting stroke contains zero lower body movement, and the arms and shoulders move together as one movement with no wrist break. This is easy to practice and is much like a pendulum motion.
The key to distance control is rhythm and tempo. Practicing holing a lot of short putts will increase confidence out on the golf course when needed.
In the below short video Touring Professional Stuart Appleby will give you some handy tips for the short putts.
Take note of his putting stroke and how there is no movement in his lower body during the stroke.
To putt consistently well you will need to practice, but implementing some of the basics will help enhance your putting skills a lot faster.
To make learning putting even more simple I would suggest reading Bob Rotellas Putting Out of Your Mind book. The putting stroke is not difficult, and he will help you understand that it really is no different to doing an everyday activity.
He gets you to focus on getting the ball to your target with minimal effort or thought. I wonder if Stephen Curry or Lebron James think about mechanics of how they shoot whilst playing basketball? I highly doubt it! Their only thought is to swish the basketball straight through the hoop, and they do this consistently. Golf is no different.
Bob also explains how important a preshot routine is. This can be the most simple routine you like as long as it is consistent.
The longer putts need to be practiced and different speed of greens require different feel. This one unfortunately does need to be practiced at a golf course to get the feel of the speed of the greens.
If you have ever played lawn bowls the two are similar expect golf greens have different breaks which you will pick up on as you play more golf.
Implementing some of these basics will keep it simple for you out there, and also help you hole more putts which equals lower scores.