Putting Tips

The 5 Most Common Putting Mistakes

Make sure you’re not making any of these putting mistakes and if you are, eliminate them now and see your putts per round drop quickly!

Putting mistake #1: Alignment

This sounds obvious, but when the putter is set behind the ball, it needs to be aimed square to the line you intend the the ball to start on. Miss-alignment is a very common mistake. When you’re alignment is off, even slightly, your brain will make adjustments to your stroke in the attempt to correct it (your eyes know where the target is). So alignment too far to the right becomes an out-to-in stroke and too far to the left becomes in-to-out. The result is inconsistency. There’s a couple of ways to make sure your aligned properly:

1. Use a thick line on the ball which you can put on with a Sharpie. Standing behind the ball looking at the line with both eyes, point the line on the ball towards the starting line.

2. Use a spot in front of the ball. Before you start your walk in, pick a spot in front of the ball (about 6 inches) that you need the ball to roll over, to start it on the right line. This is known as Spot Putting.

Putting mistake #2: Being too technical (over-control)

Putting needs to be a natural, reactive movement, not a proactive, technical one Once you’ve perfected the proper set-up and can do it consistently, putting is all about visualization and feel (right brain). Too many players get technical with their stroke and think about what their body is doing (too left brain dominant). Once you’re making your practice swings and get over the ball, all you should be focusing on is a vivid picture of the ball going in the hole. That will pre-program the line and speed so your body knows what it needs to do.

Drill: With each practice swing, see the ball following its path to the hole, and see it dropping in (do this a set number of times during your routine). When you’re over the ball ready to putt, take a last look at the hole and visualize the ball coming out of the hole and back to the putter. When the imaginary reaches the putter, that’s when you make your stroke and hit it back down that line.

Putting mistake #3: Inconsistent ball position

If the position that ball is in between your feet varies, so will the impact position of the putter, which will cause different spin, loft and direction. To get consistent roll on the ball, it needs to be struck with an ascending strike, just below the equator (every time!). In order to do this, the ball position needs to be exactly the same EVERY time.

For ball position, it’s a good idea to find out your eye dominance. I like to position the ball about 3 balls inside my left heel, so that’s something I make sure of when I go through my pre-putt routine.

Drill: While you’re standing over the ball. Drop a ball from your dominant eye. Your ball position should be in front of this ball.

Putting mistake #4: Grip pressure

Your type grip doesn’t really matter, as long as you find something that’s comfortable and takes the hands out of the stroke. The biggest mistake that amateurs make is gripping the putter too tightly. Studies that have been done conclude that on average, the amateur grips the putter 3 times tighter than the Tour player. When the grip is too tight, the hands are too active. A good putter stroke is about using the big muscles (shoulders and arms) and letting the putter swing naturally. The hands need to be passive and let the putter move through the ball with little interferemce.

Drill: When you’re practicing or on the course, notice your grip pressure. Grip onto the putter, barely tight enough not to let go of it during your stroke.

Putting mistake #5: Inconsistent Tempo

Your tempo should be consistent for all putts (2:1 ratio of back-stroke to follow-through). This is something that changes on the course, especially when under pressure. Try to work on this in practice with a metronome or set it to music.

Thanks for reading! Give these a go and please leave your comments!

Photo by Felix Mendoza

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David MacKenzie

is a mental golf coach and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind, a teaching program designed to help golfers condition their minds to overcome fear and play with confidence.

This Post Has 2 Comments

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    Jim Marrion

    Very informative article….thanks

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    David MacKenzie

    You’re welcome Jim!

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