Caught Between Release Patterns - Putting

Quick disclaimer: I’m a data nerd by day but when I’m on a golf course I’m a feel player through and through. I can feel out a draw or a fade in my hands. Thinking about face-to-path makes perfect sense to me but doesn’t help me feel it. Bryson and I would NOT get along.

In the last 3 years I’ve change putting grip styles, stroke arcs, actual grips on my putter, and practice methods. All in search of what feels right. I’ve had (short) streaks of otherworldly putting in there but nothing that’s stuck… The Southwest Chapter of RACDG can attest to my poor putting… I 3-putted 3 times on the back nine at our last meet. One of those was from inside of 10 feet with an eagle opportunity…

This is my call for help. Help me understand the putting stroke so I can find the “feel” that sticks. Get nerdy if you know the physics. Or don’t and just type what you “feel” in your putting stroke. I haven’t had sub-30 putts in an 18 hole round in over a year and I’m desperate.

Edit: “Over a year” didn’t feel right so I went to my tracking app and checked. In the 3 years of rounds I have, the fewest putts for an 18 hole round is 31. Even the multiple rounds in the mid 70s… 31, 32, and 33 putts. Three putts everywhere… I’m feeling ill.

You’re in my thoughts and prayers for this quote alone.

PS, could be entirely different for you but every putting issue I’ve ever had has been a problem with setup/address position impacting something in the stroke itself. When it’s right, I just know and feel myself releasing the blade perfectly to square at impact. When it’s not right I progress through these until i find it again: standing closer/further, narrower/wider, more/less forward press.

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Don’t judge me by my username. I can be a good putter sometimes. I literally just rock my shoulders back and forth. I do have a forward press to get my motion started, and I go left hand low. The grip is not really that important though. The important thing is the hands and arms stay still through the putting motion and just the shoulders rocking. It’s a lot easier to control large muscles like shoulders than small muscles like hands. The blade will release like it’s supposed to naturally without thinking about it. I used to think “release the blade” a la Tiger, but it is so subtle it’s not even worth thinking about and can lead to poor speed control.

Sounds like you are a good putter but just have too many thoughts and need to simplify it. Stay strong.

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I have a follow up question, are you just an excellent ball striker basically every time out? I have at least a couple rounds a year when I hit it objectively shitty, chip great, and end up with 25-28 putts basically by default to shoot the same 72 that I do when hitting 14 greens. Surprised you haven’t run into at least a couple rounds like that over such a long period of time.

Also, definitely second the above advice of letting the big muscles lead and the putter follow.

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In the rounds where I find the mid-70s, yes. The only way I can do that is through my length to take advantage of par 5s. Lots of 2 putt birdies in those rounds. I’m a 7 handicap but my last 10 rounds I’m trending to an 11 because the swing hasn’t been there to bail out my putter… I’d trade 15 yards of length to average 1.6 putts per hole…

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Left hand low has been my go to for the last year to quiet the hands and “rock” more as you say. But I block a lot of putts out to the right. Feel like that means I need to release the putter more to get it square. Been messing with a reverse overlap standard grip like Tiger lately. But you’re right… all the tinkering has me confused…

This makes more sense, I had in my head that you played to a 1 and I was thinking “jesus, this guy would be on a tour if he could putt”.

Edit: best trick I’ve ever come across to quiet the hands and groove using the big muscles is to spend 15 minutes putting from all distances with a 56*.

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Should have lead with the handicap!

My goal is to get to 1 or a scratch in the next 2-3 years but I know it’ll never happen unless I learn to putt again.

Im a shit golfer so I’m not one to give out advice, but I’m wondering if you used to be a good putter and are just in a loooong bad patch?

It just feels to me like you don’t have putting issues, you have head issues. Three putting from ten feet is pretty hard to do unless you’re on a PGA Tour 13 stimp green with a shitload of break! Can I ask what you’re thinking when you stand over the first and second putts?

If you’re panicking before you even take a swing, you’re fucked before you start. Maybe you care too much. Wanting to make it and really not wanting to miss. Really really not wanting to three stab it. But sometimes obsessing about what we don’t want just makes us do it. If you were able to just stop caring you’d probably rattle them in!

I’m a lot better at putting than I used to be and a lot of it came down to attitude, not technique. In the end I had to just go with what grip and technique (in as much as I had one) felt the most natural to me. Then I started practicing distance from far away BUT, and this is important, I completely stopped thinking about the putt. It took a while but now I can stop my brain trying to take over. I look at the hole. Look at the Ball. And just swing. I don’t do practice putts as it confuses me. I just let my brain and hands figure it out between themselves subconsciously. You’d be amazed how good they are when you don’t get in their way.

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The course closest to my house has a seriously sloped (and wicked fun) putting green, so I rarely take this advice because I just want to hit 50-foot rollercoasters. But when I’m trying to actually dial it in, I hit 20-30 flattish putts from 2-4 feet all around the hole. I don’t have to make all of them (though obviously I feel like I should), but just dial that distance in so it feels totally comfortable. Then any putt over about 12 feet, I try to putt into a 3-foot circle near the hole. You’d be amazed how thinking about the cup as 6 feet in diameter rather than 4.25 inches helps your confidence.

are you missing everywhere? do you have ANY consistencies? Have you talked to Scott Fawcett?

As Ben Hogan said, sometimes you just have to dig it out of the dirt.

If you are a feel player, then I would stick to that for putting - don’t get too technical. Putting is an art, not a science. And basically just keep practising.

Build in a few 20 minute practice sessions. Simulate 18 holes on the practice green with varying lengths of putt, some from the finge, sidehill, uphill, downhill, dead straight etc, and record how many strokes you take. Then try and beat it the next time. Don’t putt to the same hole consecutively and treat every shot as you would on the course (e.g. stick to the routine).

That alone will probably improve your standard.

I would say - don’t get too complicated. Keep it simple and if you get a putting lesson from a coach, just go with a 30 minute lesson so as he will only really look at 1 thing, whether it’s set up or stroke related. An hour lesson and a coach might look at too many aspects. You can always go back for another lesson if you feel the 1 change wasn’t enough.

Also, as for 3 putts.

I find a good tip for this is just simply trying to avoid 3 putts. i.e. with your 1st putt, don’t even try and make it. Just try and lag it inside 3 feet. That gives you a 6 foot margin for error. That is a much bigger target than a 4 1/4 inch hole, so you should putt with a bit less pressure.

Obviously if you make all your 2nd putts, you will have 36 putts with no 3 putts. Ok, might not be great, but maybe doing that for a few rounds and you will forget the scars of 3 putting and the chances are a few will drop throughout the day.

Walk onto the green and say ‘i’m going to make a 2 putt par here’ and treat that as a successful outcome, rather than feeling that every missed putt is a missed opportunity.

I putt crosshand as I feel that it squares me up better. As for the stroke, I want to push my left shoulder down (lead shoulder) and then pull it back up. And I want to feel the back of my left hand going towards the target on the thru stroke.

Have you been fitted for a putter? I noticed a huge difference after going through this. I have a pretty straight-back, straight-thru stroke without much arc or release. Switching to a face-balanced mallet made all the difference for me. But I also believe that I understood my putting stroke so much more after the fitting and I left with a lot of confidence that my putter fit my stroke style.

Before the switch, I would be fine with lag putts, but would struggle from short and mid-range. Lot of 3-putts and missed birdie opportunities as a result.

14 posts in and no one has mentioned this little beauty:

Disclaimer - my username is an homage to my proclivity for 3 putting as well. All hitting on one of these babies told me was that I’m a hopeless green reader and have the touch of godzilla. It might be good to see in hard data that your stroke is in fact consistent and good and the rest is mental.

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15 posts in and no one has asked… have you tried side-saddle??

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I was trying to lead into the SAM PuttLab haha. All the data that thing reads is amazing.

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If you get from 7 to scratch let me know how

My speed is usually pretty good. I consistently miss putts on the right side, basically a push not getting the face closed or arcing correctly. I’ve been going for square-square with a cross-hand grip for the last year or so and that’s my consistency.

Never been fit for a putter. I’ve had the same Odyssey DFX 2-Ball Blade since I was 15. Pretty average toe-hang. Maybe I’ve been fighting my natural arcing stroke and the toe-hang putter with the square-square for a while…

In reality, I’ve probably never been a good putter but I feel like high school me would beat today me 10/10 times in a putting contest.

i just did this for the first time ever on Tuesday. Mind blowing amounts of data in 5 putts.