Putting Basics - The Ultimate Guide to Putting Like a Pro
Putting is, without a doubt, the most crucial part of golf.
If you don’t believe me, just watch any PGA Tour event for proof. All the players hit it long (some longer than others), they all are excellent ball-strikers, and most have great short games.
But the one who walks away with the big check and trophy come Sunday are the ones who generally putted the best all week. In this post, I’ll help you make putting the strongest part of your game to shoot lower scores.
Putting Basics – How To Putt Like a Pro
So how do you become a good putter?
Is it experience? Age? Putting grip? Tempo? Type of putter?
Or something else…
To me, it’s not just one thing; it’s a combination. I think Arnold Palmer said it best, “Putting is like wisdom. Partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience.”
Putting is unique because there is no “one way” to become a great putter. Each player has their own unique setup, stroke, tempo, and grip.
Guys like Jack Nicklaus hunched over the ball and kind of stabbed at it. In comparison, Tiger Woods has more of an arc-style putting method to win 80+ events. That’s the beauty of putting; you get to make it your own!
But let’s make it more tangible so you can start putting your best. There are five things to think about when putting:
- Grip style
- Natural stroke
- Green reading
- Mental/pre-shot routine
1. Choose Your Putting Grip – 5 Styles
Let’s start with your grip.
Gripping a putter is not like a normal club. Instead, everyone does it a little differently, and that’s okay.
The first thing specifically to think about is the putting grip style. There are a ton of different ways to grip the putter, but here are five of the most common:
A traditional putting grip is similar to your full swing and the most popular style. Your dominant hand is lower on the grip to minimize wrist hinge and keep things similar to your full swing. Most players do not interlock but instead overlap fingers. Additionally, some players (like Brooks Koepka) place their dominant index finger down the shaft for additional control.
Another common type is cross hand, also known as left-hand low. This style is the exact opposite of the conventional grip and very popular by amateur and professional golfers (including Jordan Speith).
The claw grip is a newer style that is very different from the first two grips. A claw grip almost removes your dominant hand entirely and instead places 1-3 fingers of it on the grip. This has become more popular for both pros and amateurs and used by guys like Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood.
Palm to Palm
Another grip option is the palm to palm, also known as the prayer grip. This is where both hands are on opposite sides of the grip as if you were saying a prayer.
To use this style, you need a larger grip for more surface area for both hands. And they now make two thumb putter grips to accommodate golfers who use this version.
2. Identify Your Natural Stroke
Once you have your grip, it’s important to identify your natural stroke. I’m a big proponent of working with your natural stroke instead of making an extensive overhaul. In general, there are two main stroke styles:
- Open to close, known as the arc method.
- Straight back, straight through putting method.
The open to close style is where the putter blade opens up on the backswing and then closes to square at impact. This is an “old school” method and works well with a blade putter as they have “toe hang” to help square the putter at impact.
While the straight back, straight through method is just as it sounds. The putter doesn’t open much, if any, on the backswing and comes back the same way. This style works best with mallet putters and high MOI putters like the TaylorMade Spider.
Use the stroke that you like the best, and then make sure your putter matches your method.
Also Read: Lag Putting Tips
3. Learn How to Read Greens
Another huge part of becoming a clutch putter is learning how to read greens. This is more of a skill that you acquire over time but vital in making more putts. Because if you can’t see the line, it’s hard to putt with much confidence.
To read greens, keep it simple with this checklist:
- After marking your ball, look to see if the putt is uphill, downhill, or flat by reading from behind the ball.
- Then, look to see if the putt is breaking from right to left or left to right. You might see this from behind the ball, but usually, it is a good idea to read the putt from the side too.
- Once you’ve identified the total distance, slope, and break, pick an aiming spot. For longer putts, this might be an old cup or a specific area on the green. For shorter putts, it might be a part of the hole.
Then, commit to the putt and make your stroke!
4. Master Your Mental Game & Pre-Shot Routine
I would argue that putting more mental than any other part of the game. If your mind is playing tricks on you, it’s very difficult to putt consistently well.
One of the best and easiest ways to improve your mental game with putting is creating a pre-shot routine. This will help you pick a line, take practice strokes, and visualize the ball going in the hole.
Like other parts of putting, there is no one way to make a pre-shot routine. But here is mine to help give you some ideas to create your own routine:
- Mark my ball and take a quick glance at the putt from behind the golf ball.
- Then, walk the putt to see if I notice any slope or additional break. Sometimes I’ll read the putt from behind the hole as well.
- At this point, I’ll have my start line and focus on that.
- Then, I’ll putt the ball down and aim the “Pro V1X” arrows at my start line.
- I’ll then take 1-2 practice strokes looking at the hole. During this time, I am imagining the ball rolling smoothly on the green and going in the hole.
- Finally, I’ll look down at the golf ball, look at the hole one last time, and make my stroke.
My routine helps me feel confident, quiet any internal self-talk, and focus on the ball going in the hole.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Finally, to become a great putter and build confidence over every shot, you need to practice. But being on the green for hours and hours isn’t necessarily the best way to practice putting.
Instead, you need to practice efficiently. Here’s how:
- Spend the majority of your practice session on short putts. 3-6 footers specifically, as these are the easiest ones to make.
- Video your putting stroke with your phone to make sure your alignment and setup position.
- Work on your entire putting routine on the practice green, so it feels natural on the course.
- Practice getting long putts (35+ feet) inside a three-foot circle.
But if you can’t always get to the golf course every time you want to work on your stroke, use an indoor putting mat instead.
An indoor putting green or putting mat is a great way to sharpen your putting without leaving home. They’re very affordable, convenient, and can help you make massive improvements with the flat stick.
Here are our favorite putting mats:
- Wellputt 13 ft Training Mat (Over 50 Exercises On The App)
- PuttOut Putting Mat
- Asgens Golf Putting Trainer
- Champkey PuttTech Pro Golf Putting Mat
Final Thoughts on Putting
Putting can make or break your round, as 35% or more of all shots happen with your putter!
It’s vital that you find a grip that gives you confidence, work with your natural stroke, and learn how to read greens. Then, keep working on your pre-shot routine and practice so you are prepared for any putt on the golf course.
What’s the best putting tip you’ve ever had?
Let us know in the comments!