15 Putting Tips to Transform Your Short Game
Putting is everything in golf.
A hot putter can mask a bad ball striking day and make a good one even better. A cold putter can do the opposite, making for a tough day on the links.
But how many putts are good? How many putts should you have per round?
According to the PGA, “Anywhere between 31-35 putts per round is acceptable good putting for the average golfer. 26-30 putts per round and you have now crossed over into the realm of great putting.” In fact, the average putts per round on the PGA Tour is a little over 29 strokes.
If you can find a way to get around 30 putts per round, your scores will drop significantly! By the time you’re done reading this article you will have 15 strategies to start putting with Tiger-like confidence.
15 Best Putting Tips
1. Learn How to Read Greens
The first of these putting tips is to learn how to read greens. You can have the best putting stroke in the world but if you can’t see the breaks properly, it’s hard to make putts consistently.
We have a full post on how to read greens, but here are a few key things to remember:
- Always read the putt from behind the golf ball. Only read from behind the hole if you’re unsure of the break to not second guess yourself.
- Pace off the putt to determine the slope (uphill, downhill, or flat).
- Pick an apex on long putts. For short putts, focus on a spot in the hole where you want the ball to drop.
- Trust your gut – your first instinct is right 90% of the time about the way a putt breaks.
- Always commit to a read so you hit the putt with confidence and authority.
2. Find a Putter That Fits Your Stroke
Once you can develop a consistent green reading style, it’s time to find a putter that works for your stroke. There is no “one size fits all” approach with picking your flat stick; some golfers like mallet putters, others like blades, and others prefer long putters.
Here are the two biggest factors to consider when choosing your flat stick.
Style of Putter
First, what style of putter gives you the most confidence when you look down at your putter? Some golfers couldn’t imagine an oversized putter like a TaylorMade Spider. While others (like myself) couldn’t imagine using a blade putter.
Blade putters tend to work better with players who have a more inside stroke (thanks to the “toe hang”). While mallet putters work better with a more straight back, straight through putting stroke.
The head of the putter doesn’t matter a ton though, it’s more personal preference. Just make sure you love it so you have confidence over every putt.
Related: Best Putters for High Handicappers
Get the Right Putter Length
Aside from the putter head, make sure to get the right length too. Here’s a quick sizing chart to match your putter length with height:
- 6 feet or taller = 35 inches
- 5’8 – 6 feet = 34 inches
- > 5’8” = 33 inches
3. Understand Eye Position
Having the right putter and a consistent green reading style is half the battle to becoming a clutch putter. Now let’s get into some putting tips that will help you build a consistent stroke.
The first thing to check is your eye position over the golf ball.
Here’s what Sean Foley, a top coach, said in Golf Digest, “Instead of positioning your eyes directly over the ball, do what most pros do and set them several inches to the inside. This is especially important over those short putts where you can’t afford to be off line by more than an inch or so.”
Having your eyes over or slightly underneath the ball will help you see the break better and get the ball started on line. Also, try to have your dominant eye more over the ball as well.
4. Line Up the Golf Ball
One easy way to make more putts is to line the ball up to the break. So many golfers just put the ball down on their mark without any alignment system. But this is an easy way to ensure you get the start line correct before hitting the putt.
For example, if you think the putt is a “right edge putt”, meaning it breaks slightly right to left, aim the arrows at the right edge. Use the built-in alignment system on most golf balls or draw a straight line on your golf ball. Then, line the ball up to the apex and your putter to the line to give yourself more confidence over the putt.
5. Watch Your Grip Pressure
A common mistake that most golfers make with putting is gripping the club too tightly. When you use too much grip pressure, it adds tension in your upper body. This makes it nearly impossible to make a free flowing stroke.
Check your grip pressure to make sure you don’t squeeze it too firmly.
As instructor Nick Foy said, “Decreased grip pressure will ensure that the putting stroke gets powered by the shoulders and not the hands. Imagine holding a bird in your hands, you want to hold it tight enough so that it doesn’t fly away, but you also don’t want to hurt it by holding on too tight.”
Start with light grip pressure and maintain it to create a more consistent putting stroke.
6. Keep Your Head Still
I think “keep your head down” is one of the worst pieces of golf advice in terms of the full swing. The head needs to move and actually rotate up (just think about David Duval) to get your body through the shot. But with putting, keeping your head still is pure gold!
A great example is Tiger Woods – his head remains incredibly still on the greens. His upper body does all the work and his head remains completely still which is one of the reasons he’s such a consistent putter.
If you move your head, it’s easy to change your stroke and hit up or down on the putt too much. This will get the putt jumping and off-line quickly. Plus, miss a lot of putts to the right too.
Keep your head still the entire putting stroke and only look up once the ball is well off the face. In practice, try to “hear” putts drop inside the cup vs. seeing them to train proper head movement.
7. Accelerate Through the Ball
One of the best putting tips I learned from Phil Mickelson was to always accelerate through the putt. The last thing you want on the greens (or chipping/pitching) is deceleration.
The biggest reason most golfers decelerate is from taking too big of a backstroke. They try to correct this motion by taking a shorter stroke toward the ball, which tends to lead to a short, stabby putt.
Instead, don’t make such a big back stroke so you can always accelerate through the putt.
8. Have a Short Term Memory
Once you’re outside eight feet, you will miss more putts than you will make.
According to the PGA Tour, even from eight feet the best golfers in the world only make 54% of their putts from this length. Needless to say, it’s important to have a short term memory, especially if you miss short putts, to become a consistent putter.
9. Create a Pre-Shot Routine
To take your putting to the next level, you need a consistent pre-shot routine. While it’s important with the full swing, it’s just as important on the greens too.
Your pre-shot routine on the greens will help you read greens better, pick a line, and make the right type of practice strokes. The goal of a good pre-shot ritual is to give your mind a clear picture of how the putt will break and make practice strokes that emulate the one you will make.
A good pre-shot routine should also keep your breathing regular to block out negative thoughts and avoid panicking over putts.
10. Practice Short Putts
Remember, the putts you’re most likely to make are ones inside eight feet based on the PGA Tour averages. These are the ones you need to focus on in practice.
To get closer to 30 putts per round, practice your short putts the majority of the time. Focus on the 3-6 foot range on the putting green as these are the distances you’ll likely have to save pars and keep momentum in your round.
The best training aid to help make more short putts is the Putting Tutor. This putting aid can fit in your bag, is easy to use, and helps you get the ball on the proper start line. It also gives you instant feedback about your stroke too.
11. Practice 30-Foot Putts
While short putts are important, the next best length to practice your putting is about 35-feet.
Why? Because this is the length you will typically have once you hit the green in regulation.
According to the PGA Tour, during the 2022 season the average proximity to the hole is 36’11”. The goal from this distance is to get it as close as possible to avoid a costly three putt.
Don’t get me wrong, I think you should try to make every putt you face. Whether it’s 6 or 60-feet, the goal is to make the putt. But statistically, you won’t make a lot from this distance.
Instead, do everything you can to make a solid stroke so you get the ball as close as possible if it doesn’t drop. Having shorter second putts will help you avoid three putting and save shots during the round. Not to mention, maintain your momentum.
12. Get the Ball to the Hole
A putt that is short has zero chance of going in.
While a putt that misses long at least has some chance of dropping if you read it correctly. Plus, if you do miss the putt long, you can likely learn the break of the putt too.
While I’m not suggesting that you hit every putt so hard you have five feet coming back, putt more aggressively. Too many average golfers putt cautiously and try not to make a mistake vs. giving it a solid, aggressive stroke.
Get the ball to the hole more often to make more putts!
13. Don’t Skip the Putting Green
Before the round, don’t forget to spend time at the putting green too.
So many golfers spend all their warm-up time on the driving range and neglect the putting green. This is a big mistake as you might not learn the green speed well enough and your scores will suffer all day as a result.
After checking in at the pro shop, practice putting before going to the driving range. This will make sure you don’t skip it and have a better understanding of the green speed for the rest of the round.
14. Reset Expectations
Playing great golf is about managing your expectations.
As you can tell from the PGA Tour stats mentioned above, statistically you won’t make a lot of putts outside eight feet. But don’t beat yourself, even the best players in the world can’t either.
This is likely why Ben Hogan said, “There is no similarity between golf and putting; they are two different games, one played in the air, and the other on the ground.”
By resetting your expectations, you’ll have a better attitude on the greens. This will help you stay more optimistic and not beat yourself up over missed putts.
15. Buy an Indoor Putting Green
The last of these putting tips is simple – buy an indoor putting green so you can practice at home. If you don’t get out to the golf course as much as you’d like, an indoor green can help refine your stroke and routine without leaving home.
Here are our three favorites on Amazon:
These 15 putting tips will have you rolling the golf ball with confidence on the putting greens.
Make sure to keep a light grip pressure to avoid excess tension. As Bobby Jones said, “Tension and anxiety cause more misses than lack of care.”
If you need more putting tips, I suggest reading Putting Out of Your Mind by Dr. Bob Rotella. It’s one of the best books that will help you adopt a strong mindset and gain even more confidence on the greens.
What’s your favorite putting tip?
Let us know in the comments below.