Today’s tip is brought to you by Jay Gurrad, PGA Professional at Grays Harbor CC in Aberdeen, Wash. Jay is the former golf coach at Lower Columbia College. He can be reached at [email protected].
Putting – the good, the bad, and the 3-putt
Three putting can be very frustrating. If you 3-putt more frequently early in the round, then allowing more warm-up will help. Spend the time before your round getting a feel for the speed of the greens. If you tend to 3-putt late in your round then the problem might be a lack of concentration and/or nourishment. For the rest of us who 3-putt throughout the round, a review of fundamentals and some tips should help.
A comfortable posture with the spine leaning forward is essential. Align you stance, hips and shoulders parallel to your target line. The arms hang naturally below your shoulders. The stroke should simulate the pendulum swing on a grandfather clock moving back and forth very smoothly with just a slight acceleration through impact. The hands should grip the club lightly and remain nearly motionless throughout the stroke. The shoulders, arms, hands and putter move together as a unit and are the only moving part in the putting stroke. The ball should be positioned slightly forward of center, which causes the ball to roll better as it leaves the club face. Your eyes should be directly over the ball, allowing the best angle to see your line clearly. This setup allows the putter to swing more directly and keeps the club face square for a longer period of time. Putting is about control not about power, so don’t feel that your hands have to grip the end of the club. It is more important that your posture and the hanging of the arms feel comfortable.
In reading the green, visualize the path the ball will travel. Pick a spot two feet from your ball on that path and align to it. Trust your read and alignment. Focus solely on the speed, and roll the ball with confidence. The pace of the ball is important. Each putt should travel 12-16 inches past the hole if missed. Putts hit too hard are not as likely to go in the hole and will leave lengthy comebackers. A putt lagged to the hole may lose its path as it slows near the hole. Putts that roll just beyond the hole provide you with accurate info on the break coming back.
Putting accounts for 25-50% of a golfer’s score. You can lower your scores and minimize 3-putts with good practice habits. Practice putting as often as you can. This includes time away from the course. Carpeting in your home, office or hotel room may provide a suitable practice area.
There are a number of drills to use to keep your practice time productive. Place five balls around the hole, each about two feet away from the hole. The drill is to make all five putts. When this is accomplished, then move balls to three feet, and so forth. Another helpful drill is visualizing a 10 foot putt, placing five balls on that line at two foot increments. Start with the shortest putt – if you make it, then move to the next. If you have visualized the line correctly, then each ball follows the path of the previous. Challenge yourself to make every putt.
If you continue to have 3-putts, see your local PGA staff for additional help.