I’ve got some bad news for you. If you’re a beginner, chances are your aren’t spending nearly enough time practicing your putting. Many amateur golfers spend tons of time on the driving range, trying to get their drive to go as far as they can. What they don’t know is that putting accounts for over 40% of all golf strokes, nearly half the game. That means improving your putting is one of the easiest ways to progress your game. These golf putting tips for beginners can help you knock points off your scorecard astonishingly fast.
Golf putting tips for beginners – the fundamentals
Setting up your shot
A well prepared shot is the basis of every good golf swing. When you line up your putt, make sure that your eyes are looking straight down at the ball.
You should position the ball in the middle between your front and back foot, under your eyes. It should be just slightly to the front of your nose (towards your front foot) when you’re looking down.
In general, your putting swing should reach its low point in the middle between your feet. Place the ball slightly in front of that position towards your front foot. This ensures that you will hit the golf ball on the upswing, getting your putter underneath the ball.
Use a compact swing
Golf putting is about using small, compact swings with good control. A small, controlled motion is usually all you need to reach the hole from the green.
Of course, you may need to take the occasional long putt which requires more force. However, it’s better to under-hit than over-hit these shots. Overhitting will usually see your ball roll far from the hole.
In general, your backstroke and front stroke should be about the same length. The small differences in force needed to sink different putts will become more natural as you spend time on the green.
Watch the golf ball
“Keep your eye on the ball” is the oldest saying in sports. This is for good reason, there’s something about tracking with the ball with your eye that leads to good hits.
The fact is that most of us are visual. So when your start watching the putter head hit the golf ball, you can’t help but start sinking more putts.
Seeing the ball absolutely helps, and also allows you to focus on your objective of sinking the putt.
Control your putting speed
Ultimately, speed and direction are the biggest parts of your putting game. While mastering both is important, it’s most important for beginners to get their speed under control.
If you think about missing a shot, it’s always an overshot that hurts the most. A shot with controlled speed that misses the hole will still be close enough for a follow-up shot. An overshot with high speed may put you in an even worse position than before your shot.
Use the right golf putting grip
When gripping the golf club, you should make sure to use a very light grip. Many beginner players make the mistake of gripping their putter far too tightly.
You want to keep a very loose feel when you’re holding your putter. Start by relaxing your big muscles like your shoulders, and go all the way until even your fingers are relaxed on the club grip.
Hold your club tightly enough to control it, but no tighter. This will give your the flexibility you need to hit a relaxed shot with good feel.
Accelerate through impact
Timid putting strokes lead to weak hits that miss their target. Make sure that you accelerate through your stroke. This creates a crisp hit that sends the ball through it’s proper path.
Beginner players often get this wrong because they’re being too careful. Their ball then misses it’s path because it doesn’t have enough momentum.
The mental game
Surveying the putting green
Some beginner golfers will focus entirely on their putting stroke, but completely ignore their surroundings. They haven’t yet developed their situational awareness.
If you want to sink your putt in as few strokes as possible, you need to carefully survey the putting green before you take your shot.
Before lining up your shot, take a minute to look at your ball position and the surrounding green. Examine not only the distance and slope of your target line, but any small undulations or barrows that may get in your way.
This can help you better determine the best path to send the ball.
Account for the break
Beginner golfers are often surprised by how much their putt can break left or right. If you’re on a sloped green, you need to be ready for the ball to break heavily.
The low side is known as the amateur side, and for good reason. Almost all beginners miss to the low side. A ball the breaks low has almost no chance of making the putt.
Make sure to give your putt plenty of room to slope back down towards the hole. Stay on the high side and there’s always a good chance that your ball will curve back down and sink in.
Relax and take your time
When you’re playing golf, it’s important to slow down a bit and mentally prepare your putt. While no one wants a game of golf to take too long, you certainly don’t want to ever feel rushed on your shot.
Take an extra second or two for your mind to process all of your surroundings. Allow yourself to focus on making your shot, rather than just trying to rush through your swing.
Most important, relaxing your mind will also relax your body. It may sound silly, but the mind body connection is real. It is very obvious when a golfer is carrying around extra tension that’s affecting their shot. You will find that your swing comes much more naturally when your entire body is relaxed.
Aim to win
This seems obvious, but so many players just approach their putt with the goal of getting the shot over with. They are content with getting the ball a bit closer even if they don’t sink the shot.
Instead, concentrate on what it would take to make your current putt. Focus on not just the exact location of the hole, but also the path that the ball needs to take to get there.
You should go into each shot with the goal of making the most of it. This will help you start taking off easy points on you game.
Finding a good putter
It’s impossible to putt well if you don’t have a good putter. It’s true that there are many different styles of putter to choose from. However, what’s most important is finding a style that feels right for you. Putter preference is almost entirely subjective, and finding the right style is all about personal preference.
Length is a very important consideration for picking the right putter. However, many players gloss right this when choosing one.
A correct length putter will make your stance and swing feel completely natural. It should make the club feel like it just fell into your hand. If you have a putter length that’s right, it should be easy to have great posture on your swing.
The length of your putter should be such that your hands easily fall on the grip at address. You should be able to comfortably stand over your club at address with loose arms, and look right down at your ball.
For most people, a good putter length will be around 34 or 35 inches, but it may be necessary to adjust up or down depending on your body type.
There are a couple of popular head styles. They are the blade, mallet, and high moi styles. Each can have it’s own benefits and drawbacks.
These styles are very old school, and very simple in design. Blades have a small, compact putter head that is a little less forgiving than newer styles. Some older (and usually very good) golfers still like to use these, but for beginners there are better options out there.
Mallet style putters have a much bigger head and putter face than the blade style putters. They are a little heavier, and have a much bigger sweet spot than blade.
These clubs have grown heavily in popularity compared to blade putters. However, high MOI putters are starting to take their place as the most popular type.
High moi putters are gaining more and more users every year. These styles have even more head weight than a mallet. They are very forgiving for beginners, who usually like these putters a lot due to their large putter face and strike zone. These putters are even starting to show up in the bags of seasoned pros on tour.
A putter should feel good in your hand. Holding it should give you confidence in your next stroke. People tend to either have an arc stroke or straight line type of stroke. So pick a putter that suits your style.
Arc strokes start inside and open the club face on the way out. Tiger woods himself uses this type of stroke. A lot of golfers with this style prefer a smaller blade-like putter head for their flexibility.
A straight line stroke is just what is sounds like. It has a straight pull back and follow through. People with this style of swing usually prefer a mallet or high MOI type of putter.
Finally, do yourself a favor and pick a putter that is still in good condition. By no means is it necessary to buy an expensive putter brand new. However, don’t buy one used that’s falling apart either.
Drills for a good putting stroke
As helpful as these golf putting tips are, the best way to improve your putting is with focused drills that will improve your muscle memory.
It’s best to practice putting between games, where there’s no pressure to perform. Fortunately, most golf courses have a practice green where you can play as much as you need.
More importantly, using drills during putting practice helps you focus on specific parts of your game. This will help you make the most out of your practice time.
Time spent on drills will quickly translate to sinking more putts when it matters.
Clock putting drill
The clock putter drill improves your golf putting from several key distances. For this drill:
- Place a ball 1 putter length from the hole. This will be the “12” position of your clock.
- Place balls at the clock positions 3, 6, and 9 as well around the hole. You should have a total of 4 balls on the green at this point.
- Place another ball 1 putter length behind each of the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions. Now you should have a total of 8 balls on the green.
- Place another set of balls a putter length behind these balls. Now you should have a total of 12 balls on the green, at 3 sets of distances.
- Start out trying to hit the balls closest to the hole in. Go until you’ve sunk all the balls, first hitting all of the closest ones and then going out. If you miss, start over.
Putter path drill
This drill is designed to help you hit the ball straight in line. It will help you stead your putter face through the entire stroke. Many golfers don’t realize that they have an uneven putt. For this drill:
- Lay down two golf clubs so that they’re parallel to each other, and separated a little more than the distance of the putter face.
- Aim the clubs in a target line towards the hole.
- Put the ball in the between the golf clubs, so that the ball position is in the middle.
- Now swing at the ball without touching either golf club on the ground. This will help straighten your back swing and front swing together.
The gate drill
The gate drill is a very simple drill that helps you maintain a straight swing. For this drill:
- Take two golf tees and place them in the ground. Keep the opening facing the hole, and the tees should be a little more than the distance of a putter face apart.
- Put a ball behind the gate, and practice hitting the ball through the gate into the hole.
- The putter should also go through gate. This will ensure that the forward stroke is being hit in a straight line.
The rubber band drill
The rubber band drill is a great one for hitting the sweet spot of your club. Like other clubs, there is a sweet spot right in the middle of your putter face. For this drill:
- Put a rubber band on each side of the putter head. Keep them apart a little more than the width of a golf ball.
- Practice hitting the ball in the middle of the putter face. If you miss, you will feel the ball hit the rubber band instead of the metal.
The yardstick drill
The yardstick drill is another great way to train yourself to hit the ball straight. For this drill:
- Place a yardstick a couple feet from the hole with the target line directed towards the hole.
- Put the ball at one end of the yardstick.
- Hit the ball. The goal is to make the ball travel the entire length of the yardstick without breaking either way.
- Try this exercise at different speeds to see how good your control is.
Manilla folder drill
This drill helps you to adjust your putting touch for different surfaces. For this drill:
- Place a manila folder on the ground.
- Try to hit the golf ball from different distances so that it stops on the folder.
- The folder is a soft surface, so it will have a different feel that the ground around it.
If you start using this article’s golf putting tips for beginners, you should quickly notice a big improvement in your short game. Putting is one of the easiest areas of the game to improve. First, get a putter that suits you. Then, work on a controlled and compact putting shot. Finally, try some of the drills that we list. You will be very happy with the results on your scorecard.
Focus on the tips outlined in this article such as using a compact swing, watching the ball, and controlling your putting speed. Also practice putting with some of the drills listed in this article.
Three key things that you should do to putt well are: use a compact swing, watch the ball, and control your putting speed.
Find a practice green (available at many golf courses), and try some of the simple drills outlined in this article, such as the clock putting drill or the gate drill.
Check to see if any golf courses in your area have a practice green. Then try some of the drills suggested in this article, or simply go and work on your stroke.