There’s no better feeling in golf than the one you get after booming a long drive straight down the middle of the fairway. It’s among the best feelings in golf. In fact, it’s also among the best feelings in sports. Booming long drives is also great for golf handicaps. Longer drives mean easier approach shots. Easier approach shots mean hitting more greens in regulation, as I’ve said many times in my golf tips newsletter.
But every golfer knows the name of the game is putting. Think about it. If you shoot 90 and you two putt every green, nearly 40 percent of your shots are putts. That’s a lot of shots. Needless to say, improving your putting chops strokes off your golf handicap. But what if you’re not a good putter. Are you doomed to be a poor putter forever? Not necessarily. Putting drills practiced religiously can improve your putting touch.
Proving Traditional Wisdom Wrong
Traditional wisdom says you can’t learn touch. You either have it or you don’t. That’s not necessarily true. Studies conducted using the SAM Putt Lab and the Advanced Motion Measurement 3D Motion Analysis System prove that there are specific things you can do to improve your putting touch. The key is consistency. Good putters make the same length backstroke and the same length forward stroke for a given putting distance every time. In addition, they take the putter back with consistent speed.
For example, the research shows that the stroke patterns of players with mid-level golf handicaps on nine separate attempts at the same 15-foot putt lacked consistency. They alternated between fast and slow strokes, making it almost impossible for them to roll the ball at a consistent pace. Inconsistency is why you come up short one time and the next time you drive one right by the hole from the same distance. A Tour player’s reading, on the other hand, would show equal lengths and speeds.
Improving Your Touch
So if you have no feel on the greens, what can you do to improve your touch? Try these drills that I use in my golf lessons:
Find a 15-foot putt and decide how far you must take your putter back to get the ball to the hole. Place a tee at that point. Repeat your stroke over and over until you can stop your putter at that stroke length without looking. You’ll notice that as you practice this drill more and more, your tempo improves without having to think about it. That’s because you’re developing consistent stroke length and speed.
Stand on the fringe of one side of the green. Drop several balls on the green. Now putt the balls to the other side of the green. Hit the balls so that they have just enough speed to reach the opposite fringe without going onto the grass. This drill improves your lag putting.
Practice putting with just your dominant hand only. If you putt right-handed, it will be your right hand. If you putt left-handed, it will be your left hand. This drill allows you to feel how your dominant hand controls the putters’ speed and propels the ball smoothly across the green. Once you get a feel for the dominant-side hit, use a full grip and hit some more putts. Or, hit putts with the non-dominant hand. This will give you an appreciation of how this hand affects the direction of your putts.
Practice these three drills religiously. They’ll improve your touch around the greens. If you get bored, find a friend and make games out of the drills. Doing that keeps you interested and encourages you to practice more. Improving your touch around the greens helps you drain more putts per round and lower your scores. Players who do that will chop strokes off their golf handicaps.