Play Your Best | Art of ExaggerationJune 19, 2019

How to make the putts you know you should make

david leadbetter putting Bethpage Black GC
Photo by Dom Furore

Take a guess what the average percentage was on the PGA Tour last year for putts made from four feet. Seventy percent? Eighty percent? Eighty-five percent? Guess again. It was 92 percent. While that might not surprise you, it should serve as inspiration if your success rate when putting from this distance isn’t nearly as impressive. Bottom line, you should be making a lot more four-footers, just like the pros. So what’s their secret? It’s something you might not have considered.

Obviously a lot of reps on the practice green help make them close to automatic. But there’s more to it than that. The biggest difference between good putters and poor putters is body control. That might sound funny, because you don’t think of the body moving very much in the putting stroke. But if you watch amateurs putt, there’s a lot more movement than when pros hit putts.

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One of the biggest issues in missing the short ones is having an active lower body. The hips, legs and feet should be as still as possible as you swing the putter back and through. Anything more than slight movements can cause you to strike the ball with the putterhead no longer square to your intended line.

And let’s face it, on four-footers, you’re probably not going to botch the read. And you get most of these to the hole. So making them is all about hitting the ball with a square face.

One way to ensure you quiet activity in the lower body is to set up to the ball with your toes pointed inward like mine are here. When you do this, you’ll feel the muscles on the inside of your thighs contract, which locks down your lower body. You can now make a stroke that is focused on the shoulders, chest and arms moving with virtually no involvement from your hips or legs.

This tip works great on the short putts, but you should also get ready to start making some of the longer ones, too.

David Leadbetter is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.