A simple putting philosophy

Matt is a simple mind. He will never get too technical or concerns himself with golf theory. This is a good thing and a personality trait that should fast track his performance. Mindful of keeping things simple here’s the putting strategy that I gave him…

Practice only two types of putts – 30 footers and 3 footers.

The objective is to get the longer putts to around 3 feet from the hole. Then get good at making most of those short putts. Here’s the full story.

Matt’s normal practice routine is to mindlessly putt from hole to hole. He has no strategy or objective for his practice time. Like the full swing, this purposeless practice is a waste of time and is holding him back. He usually stands over each putt and tries to get it into the hole – if it goes in all well and good and if it misses he doesn’t care. Not good.

The new strategy is to use one ball. Start with a longish putt (about 30 feet but it doesn’t exactly matter) and attempt to get it within 3 feet of the hole. If the putt finishes close to the hole then it is a perfect putt. The objective is not to make these putts (some will find the hole through statistical probability) or hit them past the hole (again, not possible and this mindest likely to send the ball way past the hole), he needs to get them within a three foot circle of the hole.

Matt then needs to get really good at making these 3 footers. By really good he needs to make 99% of them. The only way to get good is to practice them.

But what about the 6 footers and the 50 footers?

They don’t really matter. By getting good at holing the short putts he will instinctively improve putting from 4 – 20 feet. And the super long putts don’t matter. We don’t have many of them and when we do the goal is to get them somewhere near the hole. A 50 foot putt is not overly different from a 30 footer – just hit it a bit harder.

Most importantly, this putting practice strategy will get Matt thinking correctly. He will learn to mimic the mindset he needs under pressure. In time he will learn to lag the longer putts and make the majority of the short ones. This is all he (or you) need to be a great putter.

So why does this work?

It’s simple. It’s not possible to make those long putts with any certainty. Sure, you’ll make the odd one but the goal really should be not to three-putt. But it is possible to make a lot of those three-footers (Tiger hasn’t missed one in years!). If you can confidently strike these into the hole you can virtually eliminate those dreaded three-putts.

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  • Steady

    Reply Reply October 23, 2009

    Hi Cam,
    putting is a different animal to any part of the game. The differnce to being a good putter and a great player are miles apart. The reason I say this is because guys like moe norman, greg norman and ben hogan were proberbly the best ball strikers ever. However how many majors did they win between them 5 or 6 max.
    My point is putting is a game within a game. Do you propose if you have a 10 or 15ft putt for birdy not to go for it. By that I mean do you lag it just past the hole hoping it drops?
    Like to hear your thoughts.
    AS you know Cam I’m a great ball striker, not to bad at chipping/pitching but putting for me is different.
    I still like what ben Hogan said “Putts should be worth half a stroke”.

  • Tony Lucas (Lukey)

    Reply Reply October 23, 2009

    Hi Cam
    Just a teaser what if 3 foot putts are your archilles heel , what due you suggest to make the 3 footer easy.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply October 23, 2009

    @Steady: Probably not fair to use Moe Norman. A true genius, but unable to deal with the spotlight. His one trip to the US Masters ended in disaster.

    GN was a great putter for most of his career. BH apparently got the yips and didn’t appreciate putting as a serious part of the game. This is an attitude problem and maybe the cause of his problem.

    I’m not saying don’t go for these putts but to realise that two putting from these distances is not a disaster. In Matt’s case he will get better over time. With this comes the ability to make more of them.

    Obviously if these putts don’t reach the hole you’ll never make any. If you run them way past the hole and miss the return you’ll damage your score more.

    My opinion is that if you get good at getting the longer putts close to the hole you’ll make more of them. This is simply statistical probability.

    @Lukey: You need to hit these putts with a free flowing motion and keep your conscious mind out of the stroke. The technique is fairly simple – you’ve got to learn to keep out of your own way.

  • Paul

    Reply Reply November 10, 2009

    Unless I have a set of ‘spirit-levels’ attached to my specs I’ll never be able to read the bumps/ hollows/ crevices and cliffs on the greens. Whenever I’m faced with these kinds of surfaces I tend to take the option of “Head down- A—e up” and stroke. But from here on, all I will attempt to do is exactly what you said: “Get as close as you can to the hole.” How come I never thought of that????? Doh!

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply November 10, 2009

    @Paul: Ahh you’ve got it. It’s not possible to make every putt (even the pros don’t) so it’s much easier to get the ball close, tap it in and then move onto the next hole.

    By getting the ball close you’ll still make a few – so it’s not all bad 🙂

    Good golfing,


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