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Make more putts

Michael Breed: 4 basic mistakes I see bad putters make—and how to fix them

November 25, 2022
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As Golf Digest's Chief Digital Instructor and the 16th-ranked teacher in the America, Michael Breed has seen it all. All as in all types of golfers' problems, and he's been dishing out solutions to them for decades.

Which is why, as I'm preparing to spend my own golf offseason here in the Northeast upgrading my putting, I found a lot of gold in the putting episode of his "Facts of Impact" Golf Digest Schools series.

(By the way, a little PSA for my fellow golf nerds: Golf Digest Schools is having a 60 percent off Black Friday Sale, check it out here).

In the episode, Breed works backward from impact. Just like you can hit thin shots and chunks with your full swing, you can make the same mistakes with your putts, too. Breed wants you hitting directly in the middle of the ball, a tiny bit above the equator.

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"When you get the impact point in the right spot, you're going to get the ball to tumble the way you want and go the distance you want," Breed says.

Here are a few of his tips to help you do that.

Mistake #1: Ball position too forward

Breed's Fix: Ball position in line with buttons on your shirt

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So often Breed will see golfers set up to their putts with too much weight on their front leg, which creates too much of a descending blow onto the golf ball and causes it to bounce upon impact. To compensate, they'll often move their ball position forward, which only makes the problem worse.

To avoid this, Breed says you need to feel your weight spread evenly on both feet—and to play the ball position so it's in the middle of your torso, in line with your shirt's buttons.

Mistake #2: Hands behind golf ball

Breed's Fix: Back edge of grip on front edge of golf ball

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Another common issue Breed sees is golfers setting up with their hands too far behind the golf ball. For many golfers, this will have the effect of adding too much loft to the putter and cause the ball to skid.

So, from your new setup position, Breed says to place your grip slightly ahead of the golf ball.

"The handle of your putter will be slightly closer to the hole than the putter head," he says. "If I do this, I know I'm pre-setting a pure strike on the golf ball."

Mistake #3: Too much face rotation

Breed's Fix: Feel lead hand's knuckles work under

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Getting your ball to start in your intended direction is the result of a good impact position. When golfers struggle, it's because their putter face is coming in too open or closed. From your new setup position, Breed says that a feeling to help with this is allowing your lead hand's knuckles to work more underneath you. That will keep the putter face square to the path of your arching stroke and improve your consistency along the way.

"As you're taking that putter back, control that putter face," he says.

Mistake #4: Stroke not 'upwards' enough

Breed's Fix: Lead shoulder above trail shoulder

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Despite making all these changes, occasionally golfers will still struggle creating the upwards strike on the golf ball that you need to tumble the ball forward, as Breed says. To help with this, monitor your lead shoulder: You want your lead shoulder higher than your trail shoulder at setup, impact and follow through.

This will create the upwards strike you need and help upgrade your impact postion for better rolls.

Once again, you can check out the full impact series and 60 percent off sale offer here.