Beginners Guide To Putting

Gary Alliss discusses how you can check your putting fundamentals to make more putts and lower your scores.


Golf Monthly Top 25 coach Gary Alliss has created a beginners guide to putting to explain all the fundamental keys to a good stroke


Set up position

Any beginners guide to putting should start with the address position as it is here where the foundations of a good stroke are laid.

Ideally you want to make contact with the ball slightly on the upstroke. You can help ensure that by positioning the ball inline with your left eye or just slightly outside it at address.

You can check this by holding your putter down from your left eye and checking that your eye lines up with the golf ball. This is the ideal ball position for you.

From this position the bottom of the arc of the putter will come as it passes my sternum and will just begin to rise as it makes contack with the ball.

This will help to ensure that the ball rolls out smoothly and help both your distance control from further from the hole and help you make more short 6-foot putts.

If you notice that the ball tends to jump off the putter face rather than starting to roll out quickly it could because the ball is positioned in the wrong place. From tee to green, ball position is a vital element to get right and is a central theme throughout our beginners golf guide.


Stroke length

When you sensibly decide to spend some of your practise time on your putting you need to make sure that you get the most out of it.

The following will help you to check that your putting fundamentals are all in order so that your technique can cope when you head out onto the course.

Confidence in your technique will allow you to concentrate on line and length when it really matters.

One common problem I see is when the backstroke is longer than the following through, often causing deceleration and a lack of good distance control. Its a basic error but one that can be hard to avoid when the pressure is on.

A simple and easy way of improving control is to ensure a backswing that is shorter than your follow through.

To work on this place a tee peg just outside your right foot at address and a tee peg double that length outside your left foot.

Hit some putts making sure that you swing up to these tee pegs on the way back and through. This will give you the feeling of producing a shorter backswing and a longer follow through, which will help you control distance and find added consistency.

Of course, you will also need to read the greens well to avoid 3 putts but in this beginners guide to putting I want to focus on the technique.


Rock the shoulders

One of the keys to putting is that the club is controlled by a rock of the shoulders and not by a flick of the wrists or a separation of the arms and the body.

In order to keep the arms, shoulders and wrists in unison you should try practicing with something tucked under both arms, such as an alignment stick or a club.

By simply rocking the shoulders the stick will stay in position and you will ensure that your arms don’t swing out of time, preventing all sorts of problems with distance control and consistency.


Know your stroke

Identifying the type of stroke you have will also help you to work out the putter type that is best suited to your game.

A great way to do this is to putt two tee pegs in the ground about four feet a part and either balance an alignment stick on top of them or tie a piece of string around them both.

Line up with your putter underneath this line and make some practice strokes. It will be very clear to see whether your putting stroke is straight back and through, a slight arc or a strong arc.

If you are a player with a slight arc you are best suited to face-balanced putter, a slight arc is best suited to mid-hang putter and those with a strong arc will benefit from a toe down putter.

Your PGA Professional with help you to find a model that will best suit your game.


Putting fundamentals video

Make the most of your practise time by checking your fundamentals. Once you confident that you have checked your fundamentals you should then look test your stroke in pressure situations.

If there is someone you can take on the putting green this will really help you to work on your pressure putting.

If not challenge your self around a nine hole putting course and try to beat your previous best.

Shot on location at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Turkey by Paul Severn




Gary Alliss
Gary Alliss

Location: Various (south coast)

Gary began his PGA training at Trevose, where, in 1983, he became head professional. In 2005, he joined The Belfry, where he managed a team of 35 PGA professionals. He's travelled the world several times over, working extensively in Slovakia, Ghana and Israel, and from January 2022 he will be will be taking over his father's position as patron of England and Wales Blind Golf Society.

Teaching philosophy:

Sound fundamentals. Aim and alignment, grip where the hands work together; good posture to promote balance; and set a sound swing plane. The game is about moving the ball forwards. The ball doesn't know who's holding the stick - all it knows and reacts to is impact. Get impact correct consistently and you can play golf quite well.

Greatest teaching influence:

My grandad, Percy. He taught me to play and a great deal of what I learned from him in the 1950s I still tell pupils today. And John Jacobs and Alex Hay, both of whom delivered the message in simple language. They were excellent demonstrators and wonderfully articulate. 

Greatest success story:

A lady (Valerie Stock) came to me fearing she'd never see her husband during their retirement if she didn't learn to play. She booked two lessons per week for three months, but she just couldn't hit a ball. Suddenly she stopped coming. Four  weeks later, and after practising in her garden, she rebooked - and sure enough she could play. Before we could progress, she emigrated. Three years later, Valerie walked into the golf shop and told me she was playing off 19, saying everything I told her just took a long time to process!