Don't Putt Blind

Steve2Golfer's Guide instruction by Steve Whidden

Most people who struggle with their putting have a problem with their distance, or feel, than they do direction. While correct aim is very important in putting, proper speed over rides it because speed dictates direction.

If you pick a certain spot to roll the ball over to hole the putt, the putt has to be hit at the correct speed to go in. If the putt is hit too hard it will not break as much as a putt that is hit too softly, so the direction is dictated by how hard you hit the putt.

Unfortunately, many players do not have a true feel of the pace of their putting stroke. Some people take a long, flowing slow putting motion where the ball rolls slowly and will break more. Some have a short, quick stroke where the ball moves faster and will not break as much. You need to realize which you are to become a better putter. Here is how.

Too many people are concerned with equating the length of a stroke to a distance. I’ve even seen people pace off their putts. I’m not sure what this accomplishes, since we do not have a gauge on our shoulders saying “6 inches back and 6 inches through equal 12 feet.” No, most of us putt “blind” and rob ourselves of the feel of eyesight.

What if I told you to go to a green, put a blindfold on over your eyes, and now putt the ball 37 ½ feet?

Hopefully most of you are laughing, or scratching your head. Exactly, we do not know what 37 ½ feet looks like or have a picture of a stroke for that distance. You have admitted that would be a difficult exercise, because what we need to realize is that our eyes tell our arms, and shoulders what length stroke to make.

Do this drill: go to the green (or even at home). Set up to a putt, but instead of looking at the ball, look at the hole while you are putting the ball. Your eyes will tell your arms and shoulders what to do. Your brain will take into account your tempo, and make an appropriate length stroke for that distance. You should have no idea how big or small your stroke is to hit it 20 feet, nor should you care. But you do want to know what it "feels" like.

When you play, take practice strokes while looking at the hole (not the ball), and just start moving the putter back and forth. Your brain will tell your arms and shoulders when it feels right. Get up to the ball (don’t wait long) look at the ball and try to do the same feeling stroke as the practice stroke.

Let your eyes be your guide to better putting.

Steve Whidden is a PGA Master Professional, director of instruction and owner of The Steve Whidden Golf Academy at the Rosedale Golf and Country Club. He has been featured on the Golf Channel’s SwingFix segment and was the 2010 Southwestern Chapter of the North Florida PGA Teacher of the Year.


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