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Lower Your Golf Scores: Beginners Guide To Putting
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Lower Your Golf Scores: Beginners Guide to Putting

Putting is considered a game inside a game because of the different skills involved. Becoming good at putting is the easiest way to lower your golf scores. Your goal is to hole out with no more than two putts per hole, less if possible.

Think about it, if you play 18 holes in a round of golf, it means you will take 36 strokes on the putting greens alone, which is a large percentage of your total number of shots. Most amateur golfers actually take more than 36 putts per round.

A professional golfer will target on average between 25 and 30 putts per round. If you just improve this aspect of your game, you will definitely lower your golf scores. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

Getting started

Many of the best players vary in their standing position while putting. But, the following is, for me, the easiest away to begin. Stand square to the ball, having the feet about 46cm (18 inches) apart, and arrange yourself so that the ball is in the centre of your feet. You will find that some players prefer the ball slightly further forward towards their leading foot.

Aim at the back of the hole, which means the further side of the hole from where you stand and allow the putter in its action to follow the ball. In doing so, be careful to avoid pushing or pulling the ball, as this will send the ball off line.

The simple reason for aiming at the back of the hole or even just beyond, is that if your ball comes up short, it has no chance of going in, so give the ball a chance. Remember, the hole will not come to you.

Clear your way to the hole

If new to golf, you may not realise that you can clear your path to the hole of any loose impediments. In other words, you can lift and move any loose materials such as stones, sand, leaves, twigs etc., by hand, which might be on the putting green.

One note of caution, do not use your putter head to remove debris from the green that is between your ball and the cup (hole). This is against the rules, viewed as testing the surface of the green before putting, and results in a penalty of one stroke.

You may also lift and clean your ball by hand, while on the putting green. To do so you must first place a marker behind your ball to make sure you return it to exactly the same spot when it is your turn to play.

Order of play on the putting greens

Although there are no specific rules regarding who should play first. By tradition and golf course etiquette, the player furthest from the hole usually goes first.

However, there are a few exceptions to this unwritten rule. For example, when a player's first putt finishes close to the hole but does not go in, he will often choose to finish it off before the next player has his turn.

The best way to learn the rules of golf whether written or unwritten is to play. You will soon get the hang of it.

Reading the greens

This is another important skill of good putting. No greens are perfectly flat and few puts are completely straight. Therefore, when putting you will have to make allowance for any slopes known as borrow.

Look at the shape of the green and note which direction it falls. There will always be a high point and a low point. There has to be to cater for the drainage. Try to work out how much the green slopes and how it will affect the roll of your golf ball.

Also, look at the grass on the green. Is it long or short and which way has it been cut? These subtle differences can all affect the speed and shape of your putts.

How to get better at putting

Quite simply, you must practice. Practice at home on the carpet or on the practice putting green at your local golf club.

Firstly, I would recommend practicing short putts from distances less than 6 feet (180 cm), which are the nemesis of many golfers because every golfer thinks he or she should never miss them and are always disappointed when they do.

Basic rules to follow: carefully line up the face of the ball with the sweet spot of the putter, keep your eyes over the ball, keep your head still during the strike, keep your hands ahead of the ball (don't flick at it), keep your arms and shoulders working together, think of the ball rolling into the hole.

If you can afford it, consider a golf lesson on putting with your local golf professional. It may shorten the learning curve and help you to save a few shots per round.

Facing up to any putt

If you watch golf live or on TV, you will know how much care and attention the professional golfer gives to putting.

Observe how they go through the same routine each time, no matter how short the putt. If you learn by their example and take on board these tips, you too can face up to any putt with confidence.

Combine this aspect of the game with other short game skills like chipping and pitching to the green and you will be on your way to golfing success.

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