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Practicing 30- to 40-footers may be fun but you're not going to have many of them during your round.
Practicing 30- to 40-footers may be fun but you're not going to have many of them during your round. (Courtesy of V. Chugh)

Four easy steps to becoming a better putter

Les MillerBy Les Miller,

Here are a few tips that can help you become a better putter:

Start with a routine: Notice when you watch PGA Tour players, they have a routine for every shot, especially when it comes to putting. Better players know a routine is necessary for making consistent strokes.

First, start by looking at the putt from behind the ball, then halfway down the line and finally from behind the hole.

This will help you see the line, slope and speed of the putt. (To help speed up play try and do this part of your alignment while your playing partners are lining up their putts.)

Next, step up to your ball, make a practice stroke or two, and then hit the putt.

You can modify this routine to develop your own but don't waste too much time (the routine should take 30 to 40 seconds at most) and always be sure to do it before every putt.

Practice the Short Putts: Practicing 30- to 40-footers may be fun but you're not going to have many of them during your round. On the course the majority of your putts will be from within 15 feet, so before playing practice the short putts.

Start by taking four balls, making a circle approximately 5 feet from the hole. When you make three out of four from that distance move your circle outward a foot or two.

Keep doing this until you get about 12 to 15 feet from the hole. This drill will improve your speed control, help you read putts and give you confidence in your stroke.

Your Alignment is bad: Trusting your alignment helps you focus on your stroke which leads to solid putts.

Next time you play, have one of your playing partners help line you up on your putts. Have him stand behind you looking down your line. Once he lets you know you are aligned properly just stroke the putt.

This should help you relax and make a good stroke because you are not thinking about your alignment.

If your playing partner is constantly changing your alignment you should focus your practice time on this area of your putting.

Try different things: If you have putting problems, try different solutions. The key to good putting is confidence, and there are several ways to improve your confidence.

Try a new grip. When you see a golfer who is a good putter watch how they grip the club. Some overlap, some interlock, some have a split-hand grip or the claw. It doesn't matter how you grip the putter as long as it works, so experiment next time you practice.

Next, try a different length putter or a different style. Almost all golf shops let you "demo" putters. Take a few out to the putting green and see if one is right for you.

Les Miller was a longtime Golf Writers of America member who covered golf instruction for several newspapers and golf publications. His many years of experience as a golf professional, director of product development and tour relations for several major golf companies gave him a unique background and ability to help golfers increase their enjoyment of the game.

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