Amen Corner: Solid Putting Stroke Will Counter Bumpy Greens
Try passing a putter through two sleeves of golf balls without hitting them to practice making a good stroke and enforcing solid contact on the ball. Courtesy photograph
We all agree: It’s been a late spring, and it feels really good that the weather is finally turning and we’re experiencing more warm and sunny days.
Most of the golf courses felt the same pain we all did from the winter and have been waiting for the same nice weather so the grass can grow. We’re experiencing the late spring blues mostly on the greens, where we rely on smooth putting surfaces to drain our birdie, par or bogey putts to save our scores. You’re either putting on bumpy surfaces or greens full of grass but not healthy enough to mow short enough for smoother rolls.
The key for putting on bumpy or slow greens is the ability to hit your putts solid. Hitting your putts on the sweet spot gives you the best shot at producing a roll that won’t be knocked offline by a bump. Solid contact will help controlling your distances as well, to leave you a makeable second putt.
Most of us are likely leaving our longer putts short of the hole, creating a challenging distance on our second putts. A putt that doesn’t stop past the hole never has a chance to go in.
Here are three drills for you to try to help you hit more solid putts:
∎ Lay a quarter on the ground and try to skim the top of the coin or strike the coin so it slides forward on the surface. Try this on your kitchen floor before moving to a grass surface. This drill helps you putt the ball solidly and prevents the putter head from swinging up on the ball. When the putter is on its way up it is decelerating, further guaranteeing we don’t hit the putt solid and leaving the putt short of the hole. After you try skimming or moving the quarter, place a ball on top of the quarter and stroke some putts hitting the ball and sliding the quarter at the same time.
∎ Another drill to try is called the “gate drill.” Place two tees in the ground — or in my case two sleeves of balls — and leave barely enough room for your putter to pass through. Practice putting so the club head never hits the obstructions, ensuring a centered hit every time.
∎ Finally, from a technique standpoint, experiment with a forward press in your putting stroke. At the address position, lean the putter shaft a few degrees toward the target and maintain that shaft position through impact. This prevents the putter from swinging up on the ball too much and allows the center of the face to hit the equator of the golf ball more consistently.
All three drills will allow you to hit your putts solidly and create roll with speed to better navigate the bumps and leave you with a more makeable second putt.
Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon.