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In my experience of teaching I’ve found that a lot of students worry about the backswing or other technical aspects of their putting stroke. Those are important things to hit on during practice but one of the single most important factors in becoming a great putter is controlling the putter face. The Trackman experts say that clubface is more important than path. According to Ralph Maltby, a premier designer of golf equipment, 85% of the ball’s initial direction of a putt is determined by face angle at impact while only approximately 15% is a direct result of the putters’ path.
Now that we’ve established that the position of your putter face at impact is important, let’s explore some common areas to consider:
Your putter face should be perpendicular (going back to some basic geometry, these are lines that cross one another at a 90 degree angle and would look like a “+”) with your target line both at set up and at point of impact. Notice I say at your target line and not at the hole. This is due to how the putt is going to break. You want to have a visual of the line you want the ball to roll on all the way to the hole. By having this visual, it will help you consciously and subconsciously keep the putter square on impact.
Having a squared-up putter can be related to your posture set up, so be sure to check out my article on proper putting setup if you haven’t already click here. If you struggle with the squareness of putter, you can also check out my favorite drills.
If you’ve ever found yourself asking yourself “why are my putts skipping” or “why am I having trouble controlling putting distances”, this one might be for you. If you’re changing loft at impact, your ball may skip or skid a bit and you might notice the ball bouncing. This is typically most noticeable on longer distance putts.
At impact, you don’t want your putter face to change loft. Think of your putter face as having a set of eyes that allows it to see the ball it’s about to hit. You don’t want those eyes looking too far into the ground and you don’t want them looking too far into the sky. You also don’t want the eyes to be changing direction (from the ground to the sky or vice versa) at the point of impact.
If you are struggling with this, make sure you check out my favorite putting drills here.
This is another common area that can impact your ability to control your putting distances. If you hit the ball too far off the toe of the putter (the part of the club farthest from you) or too far off the heel of the putter (the part of the club closest to you) it deadens the ball. Hitting off the toe can lead to a pushed putt while hitting it off the heel can lead to a pulled putt.
Most putters come with a line on the center of the putter head. This line isn’t only there to help you with your alignment, it also helps you visualize the “sweet” spot of the putter. You should be striking the ball right where the line is. I love this picture of Tiger Woods’ putter below because you can see it’s worn down right below the top line and about half way up the club from the amount of times he’s hit the sweet spot. The arrow is pointing to the line on the top of the putter that signals the sweet spot.
Controlling these three areas can impact both short distance putts as well as long distance putts. They will help you hit more consistent putts by helping you better control distances on the green and more accurately hit your target. If you have great putter face control, you increase your chances of making your putt or at least getting close to the hole, reducing the number of three putts you have.