Improve Your Putting Skills

By: Kev Woodward

How can it be that on one day you putt beautifully, and the next you're all but helpless on the greens? Putting in golf is one of the most inconsistent skills in all of sports. Good putters usually putt well, but even the smooth strokers go into short or prolonged slumps.Pros are fairly equal from tee to green, with a few notable exceptions like Tiger. It's the guy or gal who putts well throughout a tournament that brings home the bacon.Unlike the basics - golf set up, grip, and swing - putting is a world unto itself. There's no right way or wrong way; it's what works for you that counts.Your putting grip is important, but what feels good and works for you might be a handicap for a fellow player. Check with some good putters and see how they place their hands on the club. It doesn't hurt to experiment with new methods occasionally. The putter - as a club - is vital to your success or lack thereof. And it doesn't have to cost $100; some of the prices for golf clubs have become ridiculous.Foremost, you need a putter that looks good to you; that seems silly, but if you don't gain confidence from your putter's appearance, you won't putt well with it. Clubheads on putters come in so many diverse shapes and sizes that just selecting one that seems right for you can be a chore in itself.The weight is important, but only insofar as it feels right to you; almost everyone has a different weight preference for their putter.Don't hesitate to buy an inexpensive or used putter if you find one you think might fit your style.

If you like everything but the grip, you can get that changed in a golf shop. And it's not expensive.If you have and old and trusted putter that has served you well and you're slumping, try placing a new and different-sized grip on it. All of these seemingly insignificant changes can give your confidence a needed boost.Don't neglect your putting when you practice. But avoid becoming obsessive about it. If you practice putting over a long period of time, your back will begin to ache and your concentration will wander to greener pastures.The majority of golfers ignore two important shots while practicing their putting: They don't work on putting from the fringe. And that's a shot that most golfers use frequently on the golf course.Make sure you devote part of your putting practice to stroking approach putts from the fringe, both close to the actual putting surface and - depending on the texture of the fringe - as much as eight to ten feet off the green. A second troublesome putt that should be practiced from time to time is the dilemma that's presented when your ball comes to rest on the putting surface against the first cut of the fringe. That can be a daunting shot if you haven't practiced it. The key is hitting the top half of the ball while stroking the putter smoothly over the top of the fringe. If you try and chop down on this putt, it can have disastrous results. However, having said that, sometimes chopping down on the putt is the only way you can hit the shot if the fringe is fairly high. You have to experiment to find the method that works best for you.Short and focused putting practice is better than long, tiring sessions that become boring. You can work on just about every type of putt in a 15-20 minute practice period.Another key to good putting is to keep a journal of thoughts that work well for you when you're going well. And, conversely, record what is wrong when you're in a slump. It might be something that will recur - both good and bad - and if you have a journal to refer back to, you might head off potential problems at the pass.

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