Putting is one of the most frustrating parts of golf for a lot of players. This goes for amateur and professional players alike. Some well-known pros, such as Bernhard Langer, experience the yips — a terrible affliction whereby the player viscously twitches as they are about to strike a putt.
You can do everything perfectly on a hole — drive it 200+ yards down the fairway, hit a 7 iron into the heart of the green and then proceed to take 3+ putts from 20 feet. From the outside looking in, putting is the easiest part of golf. Anyone can pick up a putter and do reasonably well with it, even if they have never played golf in their life. But this is not the case when it comes to the long game.
The importance of the short game
Ultimately, putting is where tournaments are won and lost. The old adage “Drive for show, putt for dough” is so true. What differentiates the best players is not the quality of their long game, but the quality of their short game. It’s all fine and dandy being able to drive the ball 300+ yards, but if you cannot get the ball into the hole, you are not going to perform well.
There are a few different aspects to putting that make it such an unpredictable and frustrating pursuit. You need to be able to read the contours of the green correctly. You also have to judge the pace of the green, how much a putt is going to break if you hit it at a certain speed and what sort of stroke you need to make in order to hit the ball towards your target.
Let’s look at how you can hit your putts straighter and get closer to your target on a consistent basis.
Putting the ball straighter is not the overall solution
While being able to putt the ball straight is vital when it comes to holing putts, you also need to work on other aspects of your putting game if you want to up your results. It is not too often that you are going to be on the course and have a putt that doesn’t break and you can aim straight at the hole.
Usually, there will be some form of a slope, which means that you will need to aim a few inches on either side of the hole. This is where your ability to read greens comes into play. If you are not reading greens correctly, you can hit your putts as straight as you like but you will still not get the ball in the hole.
The art of reading greens can be tricky, but it is a good idea to take time on the practice green and experiment with different breaks and see how accurate your reads are. Over time, you will start to see regular patterns cropping up again and again, which will allow you to become better at judging the contours of a green.
Hack to instantly hit your putts straighter
Before we get to the main drill that will allow you to hit your putts straighter, here is a quick little hack that may help you in the short term.
When lining up for a putt, many people tend to get confused as to where they are aiming. You could have read the slope of the green perfectly when bending down behind your ball and surveying the green, but when you step up to strike the putt, you may not know where it is you should be aiming.
The quick tip for this is to draw a straight line on your golf ball. All you need is a sharpie and you are good to go. Now, when you are reading the green, you can mark your ball and direct your ball to your target using the line on the ball. This allows you not to worry about your target. You can focus on making a solid stroke.
The best putting drill for hitting the ball straighter
The meter stick drill is perhaps the best drill out there for improving the accuracy of your putting. It can be unforgiving, but over time you will improve immensely.
All you need is a meter stick. Place it six feet away from a hole, place your ball on the end and strike it along the stick. If you manage to get the ball to run along the stick all the way into the hole, then your putter face was square at impact and you rolled the ball well. If you did not strike it well, the ball will fall off the stick.
This is a simple drill that can even be done in your home. Over time, through repetitive practice, you will hit your putts consistently straighter. Go out to your local hardware shop and pick up a meter stick. Give it go and come back to let us know if your putting has improved!
— Andrew O’Malley