Fundamentals to Better Putting

Mark Oswald
General Manager
The Highlands at Dove Mountain in Marana, AZ.
Marana, AZ

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While there are many different styles of putting, these are some common fundamentals preferred by most golf professionals. 

Eye line over the ball. At address, your eyes should be looking down directly over the ball. Position your head, arms, putter and ball in such a position that will enable you to look at the ball and down your desired putting line. To test if your eyes are over the ball, take your address position while holding an extra ball in your hand. Bring the golf ball up, centering it between your eyes, now release the ball and let it fall. If your eyes are on the line over the ball, the ball you drop will hit your putter or the ball you addressed on the ground. If the ball hits inside of your putter, move closer to the ball. If the ball hits outside of your putter, move further from the ball.

Set the club face square with the target. In the address position make sure the putter is set properly on the putting line. The toe and heel (opposite ends of the putter blade) should be in a straight line, square to the target line. Allow for the break in the putt by pointing the clubface to where you want the putt to begin and break towards the hole. A line on the top of the clubface may help assist you in aligning the clubface on your target line.

Position the ball forward of center in your stance. This preferred ball position slightly ahead of center allows for the optimum solidness of contact in the putting stroke. Maintain consistency in your ball placement.

Keep body motion to a minimum. The putting stroke is done with the arms and shoulders. With the pendulum stroke used for putting, the proper stroke is initiated from the shoulders that swing the arms and in turn swing the putter. Keep the moving parts of your stroke to a minimum. Picture the arms on the clock, swinging back and forward, over and over.

Accelerate into the ball. The putting stroke, like every golf shot, should be done with the club striking the ball at its maximum swing speed. The backswing should be slower than the downswing. Accelerating into the ball at impact will help keep the clubface square and on line with your target. Work on a smooth stroke that gradually accelerates into the ball.

Hit the ball in the center of the clubface. Hitting the ball off center will allow the clubface to open or close at impact. Marking the center of your clubface will help for alignment and in emphasizing hitting this target for impact.

Be comfortable. Find a putter, take the set up and make the stroke that is the most comfortable and repeatable for you. Consistency is the key to a good putting stroke.

Match your putting stroke to your full swing. Your putting stroke should resemble your full swing. The tempo and pace of your swing should be compatible to that of your full swing. If you have a short, quick golf swing, you will probably prefer a short, quick putting stroke. Make your putting stroke more like your full swing.

Practice Drill: For the short putts start in close, about 18 inches from the hole. Place four balls down in a half circle. Putt around the circle until you can make all four. Move back another 18 inches and continue this drill until you reach a distance of more than ten feet from the hole. To practice your long putts work on your distance control. Draw or measure out a circle around the hole. If you are 12 feet from the hole your circle will be 12 inches in diameter, for a 30 foot putt you will have a 30 inch circle. Try to lag each ball into the circle. Continue until you can do this on a regular basis.

Summary: Putting is a very individualistic stroke: but it must meet some common fundamentals. Putting makes up from 45 - 65% of your score. Is it getting this much of your practice time? Follow the fundamentals above to improve your putting and lower your score.

For more help with your golf game, contact Mark Oswald at