4 Principles of Putting

Improve your lag putting and eliminate those three puts with these tips from Golf Monthly Top 25 coach Andrew Reynolds

4 principles of putting

Improve your lag putting and eliminate those three puts with these tips on how to master the 4 Principles of Putting from Andrew Reynolds

4 Principles of Putting

Try these lag putting tips if you vary rarely hole anything from long range and you leave most long putts short of the hole.

We don’t always hit the ball as close as we would like, and while you would never expect to hole every long-range putt you face, I can say with some certainty that you won’t hole any if you never get the ball up to the hole!

Many golfers struggle to get the ball to the hole on longer putts, and this simple practice drill will help improve your distance control from further away.

Lay a flag or club down 30 inches behind the hole, then set yourself a target of getting as many 30- to 40-footers to finish between the hole and the flag or club, without touching it.

If you can regularly get the ball a couple of feet past the hole from longer distance, you’ll at least then hole the ones you do get on line and rarely leave yourself much to do on the second putt.

Most golfers could easily save a couple of shots or more a round simply by improving their lag putting.

Judging distance

A great way of improving your distance control is to first of all take the line of the putt out of the equation. Do this by taking the hole out of play and putting to the fringe. Try and get the ball to stop right where the green ends and the fringe begins. You will be completely focused on the length of the putt so pay particular attention to how the length of your swing affects the distance the putt travels. This drill will also give you an opportunity to hit the longest possible putts on the practice green. As a result it should make long putts out on the golf course less intimidating and easier to cope with.

Solid stroke

When facing very long putts the tendency for many is to involve the wrists in the stroke and steer the ball towards the hole - this however, is a fault in your putting technique. This causes a scooping action, which will cause the ball to skid and produce inconsistent results that can be disastrous. By controlling the stroke with a rock of the shoulders you will find the middle of the putter and produce consistent results. A great way to improve this motion is by using a length of garden cane as a link between the putter head and your sternum. This will remove the tendency to break the wrists when faced with long putts.

Read more top putting tips

Stay on line

While the judgement of distance is obviously the key to improving your long-range putting, it goes without saying that you will need to consider the line of the putt as well. A good drill to see how far off line you are is to build a series of gates towards the hole. Hit a few putts before you build the gates so that you are able to get a rough idea of the line required. By doing this putting drill it means that as well as perfecting your distance control this will also give you a good indication of how far a putt is off line immediately after hitting it. A useful tool to take out to the course.

Andrew Reynolds
Top 50 Coach

Location: Royal Cinque Ports

Andrew was appointed Head Professional at Royal Cinque Ports in 1978, aged just 23. He is only the sixth professional in the club's 125-year history. From 2010 to 2013, he was lead coach for the Mens England “A” squad and helped work with many established European Tour players. Andrew also enjoyed success on the European Senior Tour, most notably his top-20 finish in the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry.

Teaching philosophy:

Different golfers have different aims, so players' hopes must be discovered before a ball is struck. The player is buying our experience to take them on a journey which will, hopefully, exceed their expectations. I try to keep the learning experience fairly light to keep the player relaxed and make the time together enjoyable for us both. We generally need to ‘de-clutter’ players' golfing brains and put a filter system in place to help people understand the important factors. 

Most significant influences:

Ernest Jones’s book, ‘Swing the Clubhead’, who stressed that if your set up was neutral, balanced and correct, all body actions were responsive to the club swinging. Peter Thomson, too. He chatted to Henry Longhurst, whom he allowed to explain his simple thinking - set up squarely, point the club at the target, take it away from the ball on the same path that the club attacks the ball on, then from the top of the backswing just bring it back to the ball. Both Jones and Thomson understood the difference between cause and effect. Modern technology allows us to analyse the golf swing in a very technical manner, which has now proved that both were ahead of their time in making a golf swing a simple exercise. We must remember that it’s the clubhead that we are swinging.

Advice for practice:

A structured and disciplined practice session is the only way to develop your golfing skills to the maximum. Always make sure that your setup is perfect before any swing begins - it’s pointless to work on a swing change with an inconsistent and changeable setup. A different setup means a different swing.