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birlyshirly

How to improve touch in putting?

17 posts in this topic

This is what I think is holding me back right now. I think I read greens OK, and I think I can live with missing short putts occasionally - but I think my lag putting is costing me 3, 4 or more shots per round. How do you recommend cleaning up this area of the game?

Is there typically a technical solution?

Or just a case of learning touch through practice? In which case, how do you practice lag putting? 1 ball at a time? Multiple balls? Grind on the same distance/putt over and over? Or constantly vary the putt? Can you accomplish anything useful at home on a 10 foot putting mat, or do you need to be on a real green hitting real 40 - 60 footers?

Ideas please!

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For lag putting, I just use one ball and focus only on speed.  I do a drill where I toss a ball on the practice green and try and two putt from 20, 30, 40, etc.  I don't spend a lot of time on these, but usually do it at the end of a putting practice or warm up right before going out to the course.  For long putts, a good look from the side of the putt is essential to know the distance and the slope.

My putting stoke is a slower/longer stroke, kind of opposite of Brandt Snedeker.  So for long putts, I just increase the length of the backstroke, but keep the forward stroke the same speed.  If I punch it, my speed will be off.

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YA wanna know a great drill that's a little "outside the box"?

Line up a long-ish lag putt, maybe start with a 30 footer. Line up as usual and take a few practice strokes or whatever your normal routine is. When you feel you have a good sense of the stroke required close your eyes, flip the putter over so it hangs grip down and, with your eyes still closed, walk to the hole and attempt to put the grip end into the hole.

It sounds a little hippy-dippy but it will help you establish a better sense of the spatial relationship between you and the hole and will help you synch up your body with your brain in terms of what the distances mean.

Fred Shoemaker's book, "Extraordinary Putting", where this drill was taken from, has some really amazing drills that help you hone your touch and feel.

Well worth the read.

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First, don't try to accelerate through the ball.

Second, practice your stroke so your not thinking about your stroke when you putt.

Third, PUTT A LOT

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What works for me is to practice lag putts one handed.  I am right handed and use a traditional right hand low grip.  So I practice lag putts just using my right hand, choking down to keep control of the club and stick my left hand in my pocket.

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  1. Get a putter that is fit properly for you (in terms of distance control, not only static weight but the location of the weight - butt of club, halfway down the shaft, putter head).
  2. Get a putter that has the proper shaft flex for your stroke type.
  3. Hit the ball with proper impact dynamics - 1-2° loft, 2-3° AoA (positive), putter head at peak speed or already decelerating slightly.

The easiest way to achieve #3 is often to match your backswing length and follow-through length. All putts should be the same tempo (60-80 BPM, somewhere in there) but vary in the length of the backstroke and follow-through.

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Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

Originally Posted by boogielicious

For lag putting, I just use one ball and focus only on speed.  I do a drill where I toss a ball on the practice green and try and two putt from 20, 30, 40, etc.  I don't spend a lot of time on these, but usually do it at the end of a putting practice or warm up right before going out to the course.  For long putts, a good look from the side of the putt is essential to know the distance and the slope.

My putting stoke is a slower/longer stroke, kind of opposite of Brandt Snedeker.  So for long putts, I just increase the length of the backstroke, but keep the forward stroke the same speed.  If I punch it, my speed will be off.

Boogie - it sounds like you might already be a decent long putter and are just in maintenance mode. I envy you - but I think I probably need to invest a bit more time and structure to my practice.

Originally Posted by Ernest Jones

YA wanna know a great drill that's a little "outside the box"?

Line up a long-ish lag putt, maybe start with a 30 footer. Line up as usual and take a few practice strokes or whatever your normal routine is. When you feel you have a good sense of the stroke required close your eyes, flip the putter over so it hangs grip down and, with your eyes still closed, walk to the hole and attempt to put the grip end into the hole.

It sounds a little hippy-dippy but it will help you establish a better sense of the spatial relationship between you and the hole and will help you synch up your body with your brain in terms of what the distances mean.

Fred Shoemaker's book, "Extraordinary Putting", where this drill was taken from, has some really amazing drills that help you hone your touch and feel.

Well worth the read.

I'm on board with that. I remember a few years ago I came up with something similar where I'd try to roll the ball with my hand towards the  hole to test my perception of distance and speed. The results were too depressing to repeat the experiment...

Originally Posted by saevel25

First, don't try to accelerate through the ball.

Second, practice your stroke so your not thinking about your stroke when you putt.

Third, PUTT A LOT

I think I do need to do this. I'm thinking I need to split practice into stroke mechanics at home - and then spend time on the green with a better technique so that I can focus on the touchy-feely stuff.

Originally Posted by cda77

What works for me is to practice lag putts one handed.  I am right handed and use a traditional right hand low grip.  So I practice lag putts just using my right hand, choking down to keep control of the club and stick my left hand in my pocket.

Interesting. I got a putting lesson and was told just the opposite - to practice with my left hand to stop my left wrist breaking down.

Originally Posted by iacas

Get a putter that is fit properly for you (in terms of distance control, not only static weight but the location of the weight - butt of club, halfway down the shaft, putter head).

Get a putter that has the proper shaft flex for your stroke type.

Hit the ball with proper impact dynamics - 1-2° loft, 2-3° AoA (positive), putter head at peak speed or already decelerating slightly.

The easiest way to achieve #3 is often to match your backswing length and follow-through length. All putts should be the same tempo (60-80 BPM, somewhere in there) but vary in the length of the backstroke and follow-through.

Interesting too. In terms of putter fitting, I'm tempted to go shorter - around 33" - but there the consensus breaks down.  Do you fit length and lie for a stance with the eyes over the ball, or inside, or whatever's comfortable? And as for weight, there are at least 2 schools of thought. One that says weight and length should relate in a somewhat swingweight-ish way - in other words, shorter putters need heavier heads, all of which seems reasonable to me. But then I've read some very trenchant opinions that this is bunk. There doesn't even seem to be a consensus as to whether extra headweight will tend to make a putt run longer or shorter.

Your suggestions on technique seem very sound. But would you expect to need more "launch" on slower greens?

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Originally Posted by birlyshirly

Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

Interesting. I got a putting lesson and was told just the opposite - to practice with my left hand to stop my left wrist breaking down.

IMO the right hand determines the distance you hit the putt (standard right hand low grip).  But I could be the only one this works for.  Try it, you may find yourself rolling putts in one handed.

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There is a drill that I saw a professional give to a student on the putting green the other day which was pretty cool.... It's called the Ladder Drill.

He took three balls.... And stood near a hole - and then putted the first ball away from the hole... He tried to hit it approximately ~ 15ft. Then he hit the 2nd ball in the same direction as the first ball (away from the hole) and tried to hit it about 10ft beyond the first ball.... Such that it ended up approximately 25ft from the hole.  Then he took the 3rd ball and he hit it the same direction as the first and second ball - but tried to roll it 10ft beyond the second ball - which would put it approximately 35ft from the hole he was standing near.

The goal of the first three putts is to work on your distance control - and get the spacing between the three balls nearly the same (approximately 10ft spacing between ball 1 and 2 and 20ft spacing between ball 1 and 3).

Then the next part of the drill is to putt all three balls back to the hole.  Go to ball one, and hit it back to the original hole you were standing near.  Then go to the second ball and attempt to hole it... Then move to the third ball and attempt to hole it.  This helps with trying to hit a target from various distances.

So its a two part drill... And I thought it was pretty interesting.  I may try it?

One thing I just did today was went and purchased a carpenters line so that I could make a chalk line and putt on it.  My game needs lots of work from inside 6ft.

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Originally Posted by birlyshirly

Interesting too. In terms of putter fitting, I'm tempted to go shorter - around 33" - but there the consensus breaks down.  Do you fit length and lie for a stance with the eyes over the ball, or inside, or whatever's comfortable?

I like the eyes to be within about a cup's diameter, from the center of the putter face or to the inside. Very few good putters have their eyes outside the ball (if you drop a ball from your nose it should land roughly near the hosel of a heel shafted putter).

And the putter should, ideally, be relatively flat, but it matters so little if it's slightly toe up or heel up that I don't worry too much about it if I'm helping someone with an existing putter. It barely changes the face angle to have the lie angle a degree or two or even five up.

Originally Posted by birlyshirly

And as for weight, there are at least 2 schools of thought. One that says weight and length should relate in a somewhat swingweight-ish way - in other words, shorter putters need heavier heads, all of which seems reasonable to me. But then I've read some very trenchant opinions that this is bunk. There doesn't even seem to be a consensus as to whether extra headweight will tend to make a putt run longer or shorter.

GENERAL rules are as follows:

1) More "hitty" (right arm piston type) putters favor more weight in the grip end. You may need more weight in the head too to or else the putter feels like a shaft without a head, just waving around willy nilly).

2) More "pendulummy" (you know what I mean) putters favor heavier heads without much counter-weighting.

Putters these days are almost all too light. A 330g head was fine back in the days of greens stimping at 8. It's not great these days. My putter head 375g with 60g counterweighting. I'm pretty "pendulummy" but I also play faster greens and don't like to feel like my swingweight is too high (i.e. 33" and 375g head).

The easiest way to fit yourself a bit is just to be empirical about it. With lead weight, or taping quarters to your putter, hit a bunch of putts from about 15' to 20'. Try to stop them all on a piece of string. The one that allows you to control your distances best (once you narrow it down you can do uphill and downhill putts to the string) - stopping the balls the closest to the string - the better the weighting for how your body feels distance. And bear in mind I'd rather see six balls 6-12" short (average accuracy of 9" but precision of about 6" total) than six balls that are 9" short and 9" long (0" accuracy average, but 18" precision).

A putter weighted properly will also let you very easily call "just short" or "two feet long" pretty easily when you mishit a putt or hit one a bit too softly.

Originally Posted by birlyshirly

Your suggestions on technique seem very sound. But would you expect to need more "launch" on slower greens?

Yeah, but not a lot. I move the ball forward an inch or so. Two inches if I'm putting through the fairway or fringe. That's 2° or so to both AoA and loft.

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I find i like a heavy putter as well, i have about 10 strips of 1.5" long lead tape on my putter. The White Ice #1 has a nice are behind the face, were i can put the tape. It centers it in the sweet spot. Though i am curious about counter weighting the club. I find that i putt better when i also choke down on my 35" putter, letting about 1.5" of grip as a counter weight above my hands.

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Along with the above, get relaxed. I try to maintain a relaxed grip with soft arms.

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Something which has helped me enormously was to feel the weight of the putter in my left hand with the right hand soft on the grip. It allows my shoulders to lead much like all other shots and stops the right hand taking over, I would lift the putter a bit and take it outside the line on the way back. It keeps me online and the putts roll better.
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Originally Posted by iacas

I like the eyes to be within about a cup's diameter, from the center of the putter face or to the inside. Very few good putters have their eyes outside the ball (if you drop a ball from your nose it should land roughly near the hosel of a heel shafted putter).

And the putter should, ideally, be relatively flat, but it matters so little if it's slightly toe up or heel up that I don't worry too much about it if I'm helping someone with an existing putter. It barely changes the face angle to have the lie angle a degree or two or even five up.

GENERAL rules are as follows:

1) More "hitty" (right arm piston type) putters favor more weight in the grip end. You may need more weight in the head too to or else the putter feels like a shaft without a head, just waving around willy nilly).

2) More "pendulummy" (you know what I mean) putters favor heavier heads without much counter-weighting.

Putters these days are almost all too light. A 330g head was fine back in the days of greens stimping at 8. It's not great these days. My putter head 375g with 60g counterweighting. I'm pretty "pendulummy" but I also play faster greens and don't like to feel like my swingweight is too high (i.e. 33" and 375g head).

The easiest way to fit yourself a bit is just to be empirical about it. With lead weight, or taping quarters to your putter, hit a bunch of putts from about 15' to 20'. Try to stop them all on a piece of string. The one that allows you to control your distances best (once you narrow it down you can do uphill and downhill putts to the string) - stopping the balls the closest to the string - the better the weighting for how your body feels distance. And bear in mind I'd rather see six balls 6-12" short (average accuracy of 9" but precision of about 6" total) than six balls that are 9" short and 9" long (0" accuracy average, but 18" precision).

A putter weighted properly will also let you very easily call "just short" or "two feet long" pretty easily when you mishit a putt or hit one a bit too softly.

Yeah, but not a lot. I move the ball forward an inch or so. Two inches if I'm putting through the fairway or fringe. That's 2° or so to both AoA and loft.

Great info. Thanks a lot.

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Practice, practice and practice. If you're willing to try something somewhat unconventional, try this:

Take 3 balls and set up at about 15-20' from the hole. Next, line up as if you're going to putt (standing in your putting stance) and with a ball in your trail hand (right hand if you're right handed), toss the ball towards the hole as if you are trying to roll it in. A gentle, underhand toss is what you're going for.

Once you've done this once or twice, you can take your putter in your right hand and use the same thought applied to the putt. Pretend you are now "tossing" the ball in the hole with your putter, using only your right hand. Repeat this process several times until you're comfortable.

Then, finally, set up to conventionally putt the ball from the same spot with both hands. This concept taught me distance control from 20-30' and gave me a great sense of touch from inside 20' as well.

This, along with lots of actual, constructive, repetitive practice on the putting green and at home.. is what helped me.

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Originally Posted by iacas

Get a putter that is fit properly for you (in terms of distance control, not only static weight but the location of the weight - butt of club, halfway down the shaft, putter head).

Get a putter that has the proper shaft flex for your stroke type.

Hit the ball with proper impact dynamics - 1-2° loft, 2-3° AoA (positive), putter head at peak speed or already decelerating slightly.

The easiest way to achieve #3 is often to match your backswing length and follow-through length. All putts should be the same tempo (60-80 BPM, somewhere in there) but vary in the length of the backstroke and follow-through.

Its kinda interesting that the putt tempo is very close to the range of the average human heart beat. Could we then say, maybe the putting tempo should match our natural resting heart rate. That's why maybe when we get anxious putting, our heart rate jumps, and our putting stroke probably gets quicker.

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Well, current plan is working out as follows.

I've cut a putter down to what I think is a more manageable length. 33" lets my arms hang naturally with eyes over the ball. I've added a bunch of lead tape to bring the headweight up to around 350g. I plan to revisit the headweight and test lighter and heavier for distance control - but this seems like a reasonable starting point to work on other things.

Working on my stroke at home as well as the practice greens - trying to groove a dead-hands/rocking-shoulder driven stroke, with a consistent tempo.

On the practice green, I'm mostly working on a drill I read in Pelz' book whereby you putt multiple balls in groups from 3 different lag distances, cycling through 40, 60 then 50 foot putts. And repeat. If I get to the stage where I can consistently roll balls within 3 feet of the hole, I'll try to find something more challenging. Pelz reckons on about 10 sessions at this to see real improvement. For me, that could mean up to a month - but we'll see how that goes.

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