By Brent Smith, Director of Instruction Legend Trail Golf Club, John Jacobs Golf Schools and Academies

How important is putting to your overall score? You do the math! A golfer who hits every green in regulation and two-putts every hole will shoot 72 – and in the process take exactly one-half his or her total shots for  the day on the putting green. Players striving to break 100 or 90 typically take 40 putts or more during 18 holes; keep in mind that even tour players who shoot in the 60s are likely to take around 30 putts per round.

With at least 4 out of every 10 strokes in a given round taking place on the putting green, it’s no wonder the best teachers place such emphasis on mastering “the game within the game.” Improve your performance with the putter, and your total score will drop dramatically.

What’s more, good touch and feel makes up for your shortcomings in other areas. After all, every stroke counts the same, whether it is a 300-yard drive or a three-foot putt. While most golfers will never be able to hit a 300 yard tee shot, virtually all players can, with practice, make most of the three-footers they face — and sink their fair share of longer putts, as well. The secret is in mastering a repetitive pre-shot routine, stroke and the right amount of “feel.”

All good putters have a regular putting routine. The discipline to follow the same pattern before each putt gives you the consistency you need for solid putting. After you’ve decided your line, align the putter with your right arm and sight the putter-face to your target. Next, put both hands on the grip, look at the target, look back at the ball, and roll it. To develop better feel, try practice putting while looking at the target rather than the ball.

Note: This is the fourth of a series of instructional columns that will be presented each month by a different John Jacobs’ Golf Schools and Academies’ Instructor.