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Thanks in part to the thumb pointing drill, Nick Faldo finished No. 1 in putting at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Thanks in part to the thumb pointing drill, Nick Faldo finished No. 1 in putting at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

Improve your putting with the Nick Faldo-tested thumb pointing drill

Eben DennisBy Eben Dennis,

When I was in my teens, in the 1960s at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, co-owner Jackie Burke taught me how to become a great putter. He constantly reminded me that great putters felt it in their fingertips and that all putts went wherever the hands went, good or bad. He made me very aware that my focus should be only on what my hands were doing and not what the putter head or ball were doing - that they were the effect of using the hands properly.

Since then, putting for me has always been easy and fun and also easy to teach. I was lucky enough to have someone who understood what great putting felt like pass it along to me. Since most golfers have never been taught this simple solution to great putting I have developed some feel drills that will help anyone become a better putter.

Here's a drill I taught Nick Faldo in 2000 that improved his putting from one of the worst putters on tour to No. 1 in putting at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, some of the toughest greens in the world to putt, where he averaged 25 putts per day.

Improve your putting with the thumb pointing drill

This drill is called the thumb pointing drill. Even though there are a couple of other elements (how to hold the club for control, and how to get in the best set-up) that will enhance your putting performance, this drill will help you become a much better putter.

First, you must focus on the relationship between your hands and the intended target. Now, feel the corner of your lower thumb on the grip that is closest to the target. On your right hand it will be the corner of the nail on the outside of your thumb and if you use left hand low it will be the inside corner of the thumbnail. Take some practice strokes feeling that corner pointing at your target at the end of the motion.

Now putt 3-inch to 6-inch putts making sure to hold the point at the finish of the stroke. By doing this you will discover the ball went the direction you pointed, good or bad. Two things will come from this drill: 1. Your focus will shift away from the putter head and ball and 2., you will complete your
stroke giving you better rhythm and distance control.

When you get a good feel for short putts, increase the distance until you feel comfortable from all distances.

Once you learn to narrow your focus to your hands and where they are going, putting will become simple and fun.

Eben Dennis is a teaching professional based in McKinney, Texas. His students include PGA Tour players such as Nick Faldo, Billy Mayfair, Robert Gamez and Shaun Micheel; collegiate golfers; amateurs and beginners. He is the author of "Power Feel Golf: Your Path to Great Golf." To learn more about the book and its DVD companion piece, click here. Eben learned golf at Champions Golf Club while growing up in Houston, where he received tips from Jackie Burke, Jimmy Demaret, Ben Hogan, Julius Boros and Bruce Crampton. He attended Florida State on a full golf scholarship and played professionally in the U.S. and Australia.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Nick Faldo putting tip with thumb pointing

    Catherine wrote on: Aug 1, 2014

    I'm not quite sure where the corner of your thumb is! Is it at nail bed or top of nail?


      • RE: Nick Faldo putting tip with thumb pointing

        Pete wrote on: Apr 4, 2017

        I have been experimenting with this and I believe it is the corner of the nail on the side of thumb, not the top of the nail. In any case, for whatever reason it has helped my putting.


  • Thumb pointing drill

    Steve wrote on: Feb 25, 2011

    Hey folks; Just wanted to say this is a great tip. It's the k.i.s.s.principal of putting. I messed around with this at home and it was automatic. First time on the course with this was amazing. My friends on the front nine were ready to make me walk home. I made putts from all distances out to 30ft. 11 putts on the front nine and 14 putts on the back nine. Thanks for the tips and keep up the good work.


  • Thumbs up

    lau wrote on: Feb 28, 2010

    This is an interesting excersise. After the first 20 missing the cu I start to get the hang of it. Its even better if I lift my thum while putting..... Interesting drill!


  • tnx

    tips wrote on: Jan 17, 2010

    great tips tnx for sharing


  • Putting Drill

    Derek Highley wrote on: Jan 10, 2010

    Thank you for sharing this simple yet effective putting exercise. When teaching I am always looking for new ways to get the concept of feel across to students. Far too many players, as you point out place too much focus on the putter head and really struggle with developing any type of touch or consistency with their stroke.
    Great Tip!


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