A Putting Masterclass with David Howell
13 July 2018 / Golf /
Putting has always been one of the strongest areas of my game and I have been fortunate to have holed putts under intense pressure to win tournaments, or to gain a point on the greatest stage in golf during The Ryder Cup and one of the most common questions I am asked by amateur golfers is – what is the secret to success?
The short answer is that there isn’t really a secret. Putting, like every other element of the game, requires a lot of time on the practice putting green, but there are a few pieces of advice which will hopefully help you on your next visit to the greens at The Grove.
When I play alongside amateur golfers I will often see them hit the green and then, regardless of how far they are from the hole, feel they should be holing the putt and getting down on themselves if they miss. It is important to remember that even professionals only hole around 30% of putts from 15ft so you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you aren’t holing everything.
Rather than focusing so much on the end result, it is far more beneficial to concentrate on hitting the ball out of the middle of the putter face. Mark yourself on the quality of the putt rather than whether it goes in or not and you will find that this subtle psychological change will, over time, help you feel more confident on the greens and it will also create a more positive mental attitude that will benefit the other aspects of your game as well.
My second top putting tip is to draw a line on the golf ball. I can still clearly remember being on the 18th green at St Andrews with a putt to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2013 and my heart was racing. However, by using the mark to line the putt up correctly it enabled me to stand over the ball with confidence as I knew I just had to focus on the strike. It is such a simple tip but, on shorter putts in particular, if you are able to line the ball up with the hole correctly you will be surprised at just how confident it makes you feel.
My third tip is for the practice putting green and is perfect for that 10-minute period before the round. I filmed this tip, along with a number of other short game videos, at The Grove last year and it is such a simple one, but it remains the best putting advice I can offer.
Place a few balls around the hole at about 3ft distance and then put a small coin – a 5p is ideal – behind each of them. One of the basic principles of putting is to keep your head still until you have finished your stroke, so by focusing on the coin until you hear the ball go in the hole it will help you to achieve that. I promise that by keeping your head down that little bit longer it will help you to hole more short putts and your long putting will be better too.
WATCH: David’s top putting tip here to help you hole more putts on your next visit to The Grove