Today, I want to introduce a method to putting that has not only helped many of my students, but has done wonders for my game. As a player I have struggled with my putting for years. I rarely made putts from any distance and never seemed to start the putts on the line I intended. I changed putters, my grip, my posture, and almost anything else in the hopes that I could make a few putts. It wasn’t until one day that I was teaching a group of ladies with fellow instructor, Greg Kline, that he presented a tip that was so simple I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. The sad part is that I had executed the tip in almost every other sport I had ever played. To be honest you have probably done this without playing sports.
Now that I have you curious, I will go ahead and share this secret. Greg asked if any of the ladies had ever played horseshoes. All of the ladies raised their hands, but like me didn’t quite understand how this related to putting. He went on to show that when successfully pitching horseshoes you should have the same release point on every toss. He also showed that when he released the horseshoe he was perfectly aligned with the stake. With horseshoes, there are two connected components, the release point and proper alignment. Let’s quickly apply this to putting: the release point would be the point where you stop the motion of the putter, and good alignment is achieved when the putter face is pointed at the target (ie. where your hand is pointing when releasing the horseshoe). Upon hearing this, the light bulb went off in my head.
Are you not sure where I’m going with this yet? First, we will cover the release point or finish position, I use both terms to help tie into our horseshoe analogy. I have seen so many players, including myself, with strokes that range from a short stubby release that stops the putter immediately after hitting the ball to a long exaggerated release that seems to go on forever. I’ve even seen players have a combination of both depending upon the length of the putt. You may be wondering how can you have the same release point on a 3 ft putt as you do on a 60 ft putt. They probably won’t be exactly the same, but they should not be drastically different either. My experience has shown that stopping the putter approximately 6-12 inches past my left shoe is the most effective release point.
Next, let’s talk about putter face alignment. We all know alignment is important in your setup before striking the putt, but I want to know where that putter face is pointed after striking the putt. Just like your full swing, your putting stroke should have a finish, and that finish position will be in approximately the same place after every putt. When you hold that finish, take note of where that putter is pointing. Imagine having a laser pointer tied to the top of your putter. Where is the beam of light pointing? Is it down your intended target line? If you are a poor putter, the most likely answer is NO. The putter could be opened or closed to that intended line and to me that logically doesn’t make much sense. Finally, let’s tie this whole concept together and take 2 putts, a perfectly straight 5 footer and a perfectly straight 10 footer. If using the horseshoe method of putting, your finish should be almost identical with the putter being 6-12 inchest past your left foot (RH players only) and the blade pointed in the center of the cup. The only change should be in the length and pace or speed of your stroke. What happens if the putt isn’t straight, but instead moves 3 inches right? Simple, make sure you are aligned 3 inches to the left of the cup before hitting the ball and that your imaginary laser is pointed 3 inches to the left after striking the ball. The key is to match the pre- and post-shot alignment of the putter blade on every stroke; if you read the green properly the putts will start to drop!
In closing, I want to add that this is not the only way to putt and there is no one correct way to get the ball in the hole. I personally feel this method is logical, repeatable, and dependable, and all of those things are critical when it comes to working around the greens. So, if you are struggling to make putts or are a complete novice, I strongly encourage you to give the horseshoe method a try. I bet you will like the results and maybe even surprise your foursome with all of the putts you make. If you found this helpful, I encourage you to use the buttons below and share this on facebook and twitter. As always, thanks for reading and see you on the lesson tee!!!