Next to the Driver, this is the club that causes the most angst and it should surpass the driver in importance.

There is a concept I call wishing the ball in the hole and it causes 90% of all bad putts. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to wish in a 3 footer to win the British Open…

Link to Doug Sanders famous miss

or trying to weasel a 30 footer up to gimmie range, it does not work. I wrote a post about this a few months ago. All you can do is read the putt, line up and hit it solid. It will go in or it won’t and you don’t want to look like Doug Sanders.

I have gone on and on about how “keeping your head down” is terrible and ruins everyone’s golf swing…well, putting is different. You aren’t supposed to keep your head down, but keep it still. The sooner you look up, the more likely you are going to look like Doug Sanders.

Putting well is such an individual thing there are no universal truths about proper stroke, setup and execution, but there are two universal truths that cause failure.

1. Steering the ball in or at the hole from any distance. Just say to yourself, “hit the putt solid.”

2. The sooner you move your head, the farther the ball is going to be from where you are trying to hit it. Just say to yourself, “keep you head still.”

To make it easier, your one swing thought when you are putting…”Keep your head still and hit it solid.”

You will be surprised how many more putts you will make.




  1. Banner12

    I would add make a smooth stroke. Whenever I concentrate on that the putt goes in.

  2. Ron

    The one thing I do well as a low single digit cap is putt. I generally drive it straight, though not long (260), I’m not especially good with my irons, though again my misses tend to be straight and short. I’m not a great chipper…but I can get awful hot with the putter from time to time, for an amateur.

    I’m convinced that the things that work with putting are mental. It’s not a hard thing to do. Rotella has some good writings on the subject.* The process of simple picking a line, picking a target in the cup, and rolling the putt works. Getting a mind freed up to just roll it and accept what comes is a wonderful thing.

    I will admit to being comparatively weak from short range, for whatever reason. Put me 8-25 feet from the hole, and I’ll make well more than should be reasonable. Under five feet? Meh, I’m squarely average…and a big part of the problem is that I know it and try to will the ball in.

    *note: I don’t think much of some of the full swing antics of his clients…some of them are SLOOOOOW. I don’t think that’s what his coaching is really getting at, but with a client list that started with Glen Day…yeesh.

    And for anyone out there reading…play faster!

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Excellent post.

      I can say it is almost a certainty that if you are a great putter from 8-25 and struggle from in close, that you are trying too hard to make the short ones.

      Like you say, putting is very mental and that is the whole point of today’s post.

  3. Mike Z

    Something that’s helped my putting improve lately (other than practice) is finally realizing what it feels like to have my eyes directly over the line. For years I assumed that they were, until I got curious and checked by setting up over the putt and then holding my putter next to my dominant eye and letting it hang. The sole dangled at least 6″ or so inside the ball.

    Now I am much more confident in my alignment, and it only took a simple test to point out the vast difference between what I was trying to do and what I was actually doing.

    • Hackinator

      I putt the ball off the mirrored side of a CD to check where my eyes are.

  4. SnowDale

    I worked this into my putting routine. I’ll make a couple easy practice swings, just getting the feel for how far I want to hit it. Then I would get over the ball, and say to myself, “Head still, hit it solid.” One of the best putting weekends I can remember. I had my share of lip-outs, and burned edges, but I was rolling the ball the proper speed on the line I wanted.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Great. The lipouts are about hitting putts more solid and you will adjust and make even more.


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