Ian Poulter shares some of the secrets that have made him deadly on the greens throughout his career
Ian Poulter Putting Tips: How To Putt Like A Pro
I was always a pretty good putter from an early age.
Putting was just something I practised a lot when I was at the club, whether that was as a junior spending a lot of time on the putting green or when I was working in the shop and had a break.
I quickly picked up the natural feel of putting and was able to visualise putts going in, which I think is key.
Putting has always been an aspect of the game I have really enjoyed and I hope my insight will help you become more effective with the flat-stick this season.
In today’s game of golf there is no right or wrong.
If you look at the strokes of some of the best putters in the world, you’ve got left hand below right, right hand below left, long putters, short putters, claw grips, fingers down one side and so on.
There are so many different styles in the world’s top 50.
For instance, Tommy Fleetwood putts very differently to Justin Rose.
Justin uses a different putter to other guys on tour and you’ve got Adam Scott using the long putter. There is no perfect technique.
The key is to be comfortable in your style.
To be able to do this, you have to visualise the putt, read your line and pace and then make the stroke.
How you do the last bit is up to you.
Feel versus technique
I am a feel putter. I like to read the putt, stand over the ball and then make the stroke.
To my mind, if you are worrying about putting technique then you are already eating too much time into the 40 seconds you’re given to hit the putt.
So I think the more natural you keep it, the more relaxed you’ll be.
If your visualisation skills are working and you can see the line of the putt then it frees you up to go ahead and execute the stroke.
If you get technical and start thinking ‘Are my shoulders square?’, ‘Are my hands in the right position?’, ‘Is my ball position right?’, ‘Are my hands too far in front of the ball?’ then you’re not thinking about line and pace, which are the real keys.
Speed dictates line
To read a green thoroughly there are a number of variables you need to factor in.
You need to understand percentage of slope, grain and most importantly speed. Speed dictates line more than anything else.
Essentially there are three different lines you can take to hole a putt.
The line that has the putt dying in the front edge, the line that has it dropping in at the side or the line that sees the ball hit the back of the hole.
Once you have decided how you want the ball to enter the hole, you can work out your line and start to factor in severity of slope and grain.
The mistake I see amateurs making every week in Pro-Ams is under reading the break and therefore missing on the low side.
If you miss on the low side, the ball has had no chance to catch the hole and drop in.
When you next practise your putting, make a conscious effort to read more break into putts than you think there is and note where the ball finishes.
What you see on the practice green will help your visualisation on the course.
Round the clock
Drills are a useful way to spend time on the putting green and, for me, the single best one is round the clock.
I set myself the target of holing 20 out of 24 putts from between six and eight feet from different points around the hole.
If I don’t manage it first time I keep going until I do.
However, that’s difficult, so set your distance at a level where you could realistically make 20 out of 24.
Then, when you’ve achieved that, move further away from the hole.
For more tips and all the latest golf news, check the Golf Monthly website and follow our social media channels @golfmonthlymagazine on Facebook and @golfmonthly on Twitter and Instagram