Struggling with making short putts? Here are 3 things golfers need to do
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Struggling with making short putts? Here are 3 things golfers need to do

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The long-held saying all golfers know is "Drive for show, putt for dough."

There's a fair bit of truth to that. Putting is an important part of golf, as most golfers typically putt for anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of their total strokes in a given round. The ball has to go in the hole 18 times in a round to complete it, and that typically means at least 18 putts to accomplish that task.

A lot of those 18 hole-outs in a round of golf come in the form of short putts, inside 6 feet. These are the putts golfers should be making at a high clip.

According to Shot Scope, a 15 handicap player makes 84.4 percent of putts inside 6 feet. That counts all distances inside 6 feet, including putts less than a foot. However, a putt becomes a 50-50 proposition at just beyond 6 feet for a 15-handicap golfer or worse. With better odds than a coin flip to make inside of 6 feet, this range is crucial for all golfers to convert and not throw away strokes.

There are lots of golfers who struggle with shorter putts, though. That's because putting from close range is different than putting from farther away, where the goal isn't so much to make the putt but to leave the ball close enough to the hole for a high-percentage next putt. Golfers are looking to make the short ones, but they also tend to get more nervous over them because of the potential embarrassment and annoyance that comes from missing them and costing themselves needless strokes. This combination often leads to uncommitted short putting strokes that lead to opening or closing the face and missing.

If you're a golfer that struggles with short putts, there are three keys to remember to make more short putts with confidence.

3 keys to make more short putts

Accelerate the putter head through impact: So many golfers have a tendency to want to hit short putts with less force than a longer putt. After all, the putt isn't long, and a golfer doesn't want to hammer the ball past the hole and leave an even longer next putt. Fair enough. But that often leads to golfers losing speed and form as they bring the putter head back to the ball. It's crucial to continue accelerating through the ball at impact, even on short putts. Just because you aren't taking the putter back as far doesn't mean you can't accelerate through the impact zone. Doing this will help keep your putter on your intended line and can help prevent opening or closing the face in an attempt to baby a putt to the hole.

Keep your lead hand pointing toward your target: The great Billy Casper once told me that a huge key to his incredible putting over the years was keeping the lead hand in your putting stroke always pointed toward your target. For right-handed golfers, that is going to be their left hand. A great way to think of this is to remember to keep the back of your left hand parallel to the putter face throughout the stroke. If you can do that, then the odds are that you're keeping the putter head itself on your intended line. Of course, that intended line may be wrong or not match the speed at which you're hitting the putt, but you'll at least know you're hitting the putt where you had planned.

Make sure the putter head is level through the hitting zone: Rory McIlroy missed crucial short putts at the 2024 US Open because he has a tendency to life the putter blade in the air and hit above the equator of the golf ball. That leaves him prone to not hitting a putt hard enough and also adding loft to the putter blade, which typically results in pushing putts to the right (for a right-handed golfer). It is important to practice keeping the putter head positioned similar to a longer putt. You're trying to hit through the equator of the golf ball on these putts, and that means keeping a flat angle of attack. Don't hit up on these short putts, and you're also not trying to popstroke them into the hole. A good, flat stroke goes a long way to making short putts.

 

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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