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Mastering the perfect putt

Independent golf tips for the professional at Leisure

January 2009

The perfect putting stroke

Any coach who can take two sedate, overweight, arthritic folks and turn us into real golfers is a remarkable teacher, and these are my notes on developing the perfect putting stroke.


Janet and I are very lucky to have a PGA Master for your coach (Brad Clayton, author of the book Puzzleduck Golf and 2009 PGA Instructor of the Year for the Carolinas).

People travel from all over the world to take lessons from Brad Clayton, and for good reason.  Brad is a mater coach for beginners and pros, and golfers old and young.  Brad Clayton teaches putting better than any pro I've ever had, and he know the subtle nuances that distinguish a great putt from mediocre putting.

My goal for 2009 is to break 90, and Brad assumes me that the easiest way is to shave 10 strokes off my handicap by improving my putting stroke.  We are committed to this, as it requires at least one hour of dedicated putting practice every day.  We installed a practice green at home, so that we can practice at home during the day.

Make no mistake, golf is the world’s second hardest sport, and it requires constant practice, rain or shine.

Aim Small, Miss Small

When practicing putting it’s important to aim to win.  Beginners often imagine the cup as being five feet wide, and that great for getting into the neighborhood, but not so good for consistent two-putting.

The aim-small, miss-small is also great advice for sharpshooters, and it really works in putting too.  In addition to the putting tops below, Brad stresses that you must practice until you can putt like a machine, consistently and without any variation  It's easier said then done, especially for longer putts.  Most beginners are surprised to see that on a long putt, and putter actually deviates back from the putting path, it's not a 100% straight-back, straight-through shot.

 Plan your approach

Whenever possible, land the ball downhill from the cup.  An uphill putt is a zillion times harder than putting uphill.  This is even more challenging if you need to get to the green from the bunker.

Here are my swing thoughts on the perfect putting stoke:

  1. Examine the breaks - Like Ben Dover says, get down there and see where your breaks are.

  2. Set-up in a uniform fashion - Make sure that you stand tall with your eyes are directly over the ball to facilitate a consistent stroke.

  3. Drill the line - Walk an imaginary ball backwards from the cup to the club head, and back again.  When putting uphill, resist the temptation to come-in "hot" with less break.  Plan the arch at the highest point.

  4. Set the stroke distance - While you always aim small, you want your second putt to be a tap-in, so you gauge the amount of swing to use to get you where you need to be.

  5. Last minute checklist - Just before initiating the putt, remember to follow through exactly the same distance that you draw-back, accelerating into the ball, and remind yourself to keep you head down until the ball is well underway.

This last point is especially important.  If you commonly miss to the left, it may be that you are "peeking", watching the ball leave the putter face.  It takes practice to keep your eyes stationary, but it's worth it!

Again, these are my notes from Brad Clayton, and they are working out amazingly well.  I now sink ten foot putts with ease, and while I may never putt like Tiger Woods, I will see the occasional thrill of sinking a forty foot putt!





Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

Suggestions?  We are always seeking new tips for the professional at leisure, and any suggestions would be most welcome.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback. 

Copyright © 1996 -  2010 by Donald K Burleson. All rights reserved.