Do you want to improve your putting consistency and performance? I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “If you want to get better, you need to practice, practice, practice .” I agree with this, for the most part.
Practice is essential to improve your putting skills or any other athletic skill unless your inconsistencies are rooted in poor putting fundamentals. Practicing a poor putting habit will reinforce it, causing it to become firmly established, making it more challenging to correct. My experience has taught me that your putting will improve quicker if you examine your fundamentals, fix what needs updating, then practice, practice, practice!
Golfers generally strive to be more accurate than precise, especially on the putting green. However, it is ideal to be precise and accurate, especially if the goal is to sink more putts instead of just getting it close to the hole. Knowing if you are more accurate than precise will provide you with the necessary information to determine the adjustments you need to make to your putting technique.
What is the difference between accuracy and precision? If you are an accurate putter (image 3), your aim will always take the ball close to the hole. However, the ball can be on either side, short or long. If, on the other hand, you putt with more precision (image 2) than accuracy, your putts will always be in the exact location, just not necessarily near the hole. The images below illustrate the difference.
First, collect your putting data to determine whether you are more precise or accurate. Doing this will make it easier to determine what putting fundamentals you should focus on, keeping you from re-inventing the wheel and or buying a new putter!
Go “old school” and use a piece of paper to record your data. Pick a flat non-breaking area of the green (to rule out “green reading” as the culprit)—warm-up first by taking several putts from short, medium, and long-range. Once warmed up, run the test. Hit at least five balls at short range (5 to 7 feet), mid-range (12 to 15 feet), and long-range (18 to 25 feet). Separate the results by distance, as this also provides pertinent information. It could be, you are more accurate on medium-range putts than short putts.
It would also be helpful to use a mini cell phone tripod to hold your phone and set it behind you on the green to video record yourself putting, helping to reveal and confirm possible issues.
After reviewing your data, you determine you are more PRECISE than accurate…., then these are the things I would look at first to add more accuracy.
- Alignment – You may be aligning either your stance or putter off target, causing your ball to be offline. A quick reveal would be to use a golf club or yardstick to check your alignment; place it down at your feet to reveal your aim immediately. Many golfers have a habit of allowing their front foot to be slightly forward of their back foot; this may block the stroke as they pass the midline, causing your putts to be consistently offline as well.
- Your Distance control – may be off if your putts cluster either past or in front of the hole. A few simple strategies to combat this are; a) walk the length of the putt, as pacing the distance provides additional information to help determine the distance. b) stand about 10 feet behind the ball and look at the hole and pick at least three points along the path to the hole that you want the ball to roll over. Doing this also helps you gauge the distance more accurately. c) Take at least two practice strokes behind the ball while looking at the hole.
- Check your balance left to right and forward and backward at set up; you may be leaning either too much on the front foot or the back foot or leaning more forward or backward and not centered. To help be more balanced in your stance, march in place for a few seconds, lean left to right and forward and back to help you feel where centered is.
If you are more ACCURATE with your putting than precise…then consider the following suggestions to add precision.
- Being completely still as you take your stroke will help you be more consistently precise. Incorporating my Breathing Control Tip into your putting routine will keep your head and body completely still as you take your putting stroke. You are allowing your eyes to relax and focus on the ball.
- Having a Balanced Stance plays a role in accuracy and precision; you may be off-balance left to right each time you set up or leaning forward or backward too much. March in place for a few seconds, as mentioned above, and find your center.
- Consistent Ball Placement at address is essential. If you want your putts to be more precise, make sure your ball placement is in the same place every time. Placing the ball a bit forward of center initiates an upswing of the putter past the midline and creates a topspin resulting in a smoother roll. This position also puts your head and eyes behind the ball and gives you a better opportunity to see the line.
- Muscle Imbalances may affect your putting precision. You may have more tightness or weakness on one side of your body than the other, which can cause you to have an inconsistent or unsteady putting stroke. If this is the case, a Physical Therapist or Postural Alignment Specialist would be more equipped to help you identify and remedy this situation.
After gathering the putting data, you discover that your putts are neither precise nor accurate; I recommend you seek professional putting lessons with your local PGA Teaching Professional. The fundamentals of putting include; Equipment Selection (putter grip first, then putter), Gripping Style (a gripping style that is best suited for you), Stance, Breathing Technique, Ball Position, Tempo, Alignment, and Green Reading. You can learn more about putting fundamentals on my Putting Tips Page and my other Putting Blog Posts.
Using your putting data will provide you with the facts you need to make the appropriate changes to be a more fundamentally consistent putter. Then, practice, practice, practice. Learn more about putting and how the PalmBird Putter Grip can help you reach your putting goals.
PHILLIP JAFFE, PGA MemberFounder / President PalmBird Putter Grips