A stroke is a stroke. So if you save strokes on the putting green, you’re going to lower your score. You might want to set your goal for 30 putts per 18-hole game. Having only 30 putts is bound to reduce the overall number of strokes per round. Now, let’s see how we can best do that.
First, let’s look at your putting grip–thumbs should go straight down the shaft (right). Your overall pressure on the putter should be light.
Second, let’s look at your stance–your feet should be shoulder-width apart with the top of your toes parallel to the target line (left). The ball should be placed in the middle of your stance.
Third, let’s look at your posture–you should stand close enough to the ball so that when you bend over your eyes are directly over the ball (right). Tip: You can test whether your eyes are directly over the ball by taking another ball and dropping it straight down from the bridge of your nose. If the second ball hits the ball on the ground, then you know your posture is correct and your eyes are directly over the ball.
Now, let’s look at the putting stroke. The putting stroke is initiated by the shoulders and not by your wrists (left). By turning your shoulders, you will move only the upper part of your body. The shoulders, arms, and hands form a triangle, and you move this triangle as a pendulum. This pendulum motion, practiced repeatedly, will provide you with a consistent putting stroke.
To make sure that the putter strikes the ball well, you will want to bring the putterhead straight back and then straight through the ball. You will want to keep your head as still as possible. Since you have a wide peripheral vision, you may be tempted to move your head, but don’t. If you want to imitate someone who keeps her head still, just look at Annika Sorenstam putt and you will understand what I am talking about. Tip: Don’t watch the ball roll to the cup. Listen for it to drop in.
Lining up a putt may be the most difficult part of putting. Always line up from behind the ball, drawing an imaginary line from your target through the ball (right). Then make sure that your feet are parallel to this line. You will also need to “read” the green, i.e., identify the hills and valleys to determine which way the ball will roll. Tip: If you practice a few putting strokes at the course’s practice putting green before your round, you’ll also get a feel for how “fast” or “slow” the greens are. This mini practice session will help you to determine how lightly or firmly you will want to stroke the ball on the putting surface during your round.
After you have identified the hills and valleys, you may then need to pick a new target line. A good way to learn how to read the greens is to go to the practice putting green and aim your first ball directly at the hole. You will be able to see whether the contour and texture of the green caused the ball to go right, left, or straight and whether it went too far or was too short. Then take a second ball and attempt to get it into the hole as you adjust for how the first ball performed.
This information should get you started on good basic putting. Remember, a stroke saved on the putting green is as good as a stroke saved off the tee or on the fairway.