In the history of the sport, no style or position of putting has been left untried. Perhaps the only items left are the limits of technology. The purpose of this post is to instruct you how to putt like a surgeon. Not saying all surgeons are great putters, but most have a steady hands.
“Putting is like wisdom. Partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience.” - Arnold Palmer
Regardless of the technology, techniques, or form, putting is a highly individual art form. This post won’t claim one style of putting is superior than another. This post hopes to educate you on the styles, tips, and best practices that have yielded the highest results and then let you decide on how to putt best for you. We’ve already share how to hold the putter, but this one goes deeper.
For example, let’s analyze some of the best putters in our sport’s history. Below are great images of how to putt like the best putters. Notice each one has their unique style they’ve cultivated from continual trial and error.
“Still even in putting there is a right and a wrong way. Take the test of experience and you will find that in the long run the man who puts in the approved method wins the day.” - Henry James Whigham
Jack Nicklaus Putting
Jack Nicklaus had a very distinguishable style. Hunched over, knees bent, hands pressed forward, and an open stance characterized his style. If you’re wondering if changed over the years, take a look below.
Now take a look at his stance only a few years ago:
“If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even putt.” - Dean Martin
Tiger Woods Putting
Tiger Woods has more of a “text book” style. Meaning, his posture, distance from the ball, grip, and much more are taught by today’s professionals. Want to know how to putt like Tiger, look no further than his setup below.
“Putts get real difficult the day they hand out the money.” - Lee Trevino
Video of Tiger Woods Putting
Tiger Woods putting from the front:
There are many ways of performing the operations successfully. I can claim, however, to be in a position to explain how not to putt. I think I know as well as anybody how not to do it. - Harry Vardon
Ben Crenshaw is often considered one of the best putters of our time. When pro tour players were surveyed years ago, one of the questions asked was “what is the percentage of 6 ft putts made amongst members of the PGA Tour?” None of the players got it right except one: Ben Crenshaw. His response, “50%.”
Putting is difficult. There are few players who can convey its complexity so simply. Ben Crenshaw is one of them, which is why we’ll end the post with him giving his philosophical approach on putting as well as his technical approach.
7 Philosophical Tips from Ben Crenshaw on How to Putt Well
- Stay loose, comfortable and easy. Don’t think precise or mechanical thoughts.
- Think of the pace you want the ball to travel.
- Picture how far to the right or left the ball should travel around the hole: the object is to see how close you can come to the hole every time.
- Try to meet the ball solidly. Consistent putts stem from consistent, solid strikes on the middle of the clubface.
- Make sure your tempo is even–back and through.
- Stay down through the putt. Don’t be so anxious to see the results.
- Stay comfortable and relaxed.
12 Technical Tips from Ben Crenshaw on How to Putt Well
- The grip he uses for full shots and his putter grip is not that different. He uses the reverse overlap grip. Video below.
- Have equal pressure from both hands.
- Grip the putter lightly enough where you make the putter head feel heavy.
- His weight distribution is 60%-40% on his left side.
- Feel your arms hanging down. That’s how far away you should be standing away from the ball.
- Match your putter length to your body. If you’ve got long/short arms, adjust it for maximum comfort and minimal tension.
- Stand with your feet slightly open, but keep your feet square. He does this because he sees the hole better.
- Bend your knees very slightly.
- Your eyes should be either directly over the ball or just inside it. Test: drop a golf ball from you eyes and see where it lands.
- The back swing and follow through should be equidistant.
- If your pace is off, it’s likely your grip pressure is off.
- Stay relaxed and be cognizant of any tension in your body.
One Putting Tip that All Great Putter Know: Consistent Tempo
Every great putter has splendid, consistent tempo. When learning how to putt, finding your natural rhythm and tempo is extremely important. The video of Tiger Woods putting above shows the excellent tempo in his putting stroke. There is a simple drill you can use to find what tempo works best for you:
Try three different tempos with different length strokes next time you’re on the green. One stroke should be short and quick. One stroke should be medium length and a touch slower pace. Finally, try the 3rd option, which is a much longer stroke as well as much slower. Finding your putting tempo will save you many strokes, headaches, and maybe even a bent putter or two.
Concluding on How to Putt:
There is no magic bullet with putting. Hopefully you’ve got a good idea of how to putt like the great. If you want to be a great putter, practice, experiment, and study ways to become better.
Hitting a golf ball and putting have nothing in common. They’re two different games. You work all your life to perfect a repeating swing that will get you to the greens, and then you have to try to do something that is totally unrelated. There shouldn’t be any cups, just flag sticks. And then the man who hit the most fairways and greens and got closest to the pins would be the tournament winner. - Ben Hogan