Putting is a mix of vision and feel. Your hands react to what your eyes see, and that's what drives the stroke. But sometimes your eyes take in too much information and cause your hands to react improperly. To improve your eye-hand coordination, try my three-step routine:
(1) Put a dot on your ball (inset), and when you replace it after marking, set the ball so the dot is directly on top.
(2) Locate a spot on the edge of the hole where you think the ball should enter, given the putt's break. Stare at that spot until you're focused on it. (It might help to imagine the hole as a clockface and picture the ball rolling over a number, like 8 o'clock for a left-to-right breaker.)
(3) Bring your eyes back to the dot on the ball, and hit the putt while looking at the dot.
This routine will keep the target fresh in your mind and, more important, help you to avoid following the motion of the putterhead, which can lead to poor putting. In effect, you're quieting your vision, so your attention is on only the ball and the entry point on the hole (above). This will improve your feel—and your scores.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE FACE
I know a lot of players work on swinging the putterhead on the proper path, but what's far more important for accuracy is the position of the putterface when it strikes the ball. Where the face is pointing at impact is virtually all that matters in terms of direction. So when you practice your putting mechanics, focus on striking the ball with a square face.
Sean Foley, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, works at the Core Golf Junior Academy, outside Orlando.