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Understanding What Effects Your Putts

By Joseph F. Laurentino, PGA Professional

How’s your putting?  If the answer is not “excellent”, there are a lot of shots you are losing throughout the round.  Putting makes up approximately 43% of the strokes in a round of golf.  Yet less than 5% of my lessons are putting lessons.  That shows me that either almost all of my students are great putters, or nobody is working on their putting.  I’ll let you answer that one.

Now to the facts about putting.  Assuming you have read the putt correctly, four things must be in place for the ball to go in (and a little luck that it doesn’t bounce off line).  First, the putterface must be square to the target line.  If it is open or closed, the ball will not start on its intended line.  Second is the path the club is traveling should be down the intended target line.  Third you must have the right ball speed for the put to stay on line and reach the hole.  The best speed of a putt, if it missed, would go 18 inches past the hole.  Fourth is a center face hit, which means the ball is struck in the sweet spot of the putter.  Of all the four things mentioned, this is the most important. Why?  Because if the ball is hit towards the toe of the putter the face will open, conversely, if hit towards the heel it will close the putter.  This has a great influence over clubface angle.  In addition, if you don’t hit the sweet spot the ball will not go the correct distance.  Think about when you hit a five iron, if you don’t hit the sweet spot, the ball will not go the distance you planned, and the ball will not reach the hole, even if you hit it with the proper force.  It’s the same with the putter.  Now what I recommend is that you work on the two most important things, which is hitting the ball on the sweetspot and making sure that your clubface is square to your intended target.  If you do this, I guarantee you will be putting better that ever.  Until next time, I’ll see you on the tee.

Joe is the Head Golf Professional at Indian Hills Country Club, a private facility on the north shore of Long Island, New York.
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