The putt is a special stroke in golf in several respects. First and foremost, it is usually the last shot, the one that finishes a hole. It can therefore be the one followed by an indescribable feeling of happiness at the "plop" with which the ball falls into the hole. But unfortunately, this is not always the case.
In its approach, the putt is fundamentally different from the previous strokes. The goal is to let the ball roll, not to let it fly. That's why the club that goes with it, the putter, has a completely different shape than the other clubs in the bag. And that's why this putter also has the lowest loft, seen as the smallest angle compared to the vertical.
And ultimately, the motion with which a putter is guided is also different from the complex swing that comes to execution when teeing off or using irons. While the latter requires an estimated 130 muscles to be used simultaneously to execute the correct and successful swing, the majority of the body is at rest when putting. Here, the only thing that matters is a controlled pendulum movement of the shoulders.
But let's start from the beginning: The ball lies on the green after a good stroke and now "only" wants to be conveyed into the hole. The golfer reaches for the putter. And now? Once again, there are a few things to keep in mind at this point, so that the previously good result on the course can also be brought to a close.
A maximum of a "two-putt" is always the goal. In other words: put the ball close to the hole with one putt and sink it with the second. This sounds simple in theory, but often proves difficult in reality.
In order to be successful, the following must be observed:
The stance: You stand - as usual - at a 90-degree angle to the hole, your feet are positioned comfortably and not quite shoulder-width apart, the ball is centered in front of your feet.
You stand straight, but bend your upper body slightly forward. This is necessary because, on the one hand, the putter has a rather short shaft and, on the other hand, this makes it easier to strive to stand with your eyes directly over the ball with your head slightly bent.
Now in this posture, with a simple turn of the head, it is possible to trace the path of the ball to the hole in a straight line, i.e. to see it exactly.
The arms should hang down reasonably straight and the hands should grip the club as usual.
Now it is important to perform a pendulum motion from the shoulders. The upper body must remain still, as must the hips and legs. Especially the wrists must not be moved.
From this pendulum movement, the ball is then played, actually more struck, depending on the distance of the hole with more or less amplitude.
All this sounds relatively simple, actually it is. And yet it is always a challenge. Because here too - as in the swing for the tee shot - there are some points that can quickly lead to the ball just not running to the hole, that it runs too fast or too slow (Remember: "A too slow ball can never reach the hole") or that the ball gets a bounce, because the movement was just not as easily executed as described.
So you can do a lot of things wrong with the putt. And that's why it's important to practice the putt over and over again, and not just for beginners. This is often forgotten during warm-up play on the range - before the round begins - or is often neglected due to lack of time.
Practicing is not only important to achieve a really straight swing movement when swinging and not to make an arc here, but also to make sure that the club head of the putter is really guided at the right angle to the putting line.
There is also another reason for regular practice: the rules of golf state that a golfer must not test the green before putting, for example by feeling over the turf or letting a ball roll. So, is the green fast, requiring little power to get the ball far, or is it slow, requiring more swing amplitude? That can only be answered by experience.
And there is one more thing that can be observed time and again when watching professionals or ambitious amateur golfers on the green: They squat behind the ball in line of sight of the hole before the first putt and study the green at their leisure. "Reading" is the name given to this activity, which has its reason.
Because golf course architects have often thought about one last mean thing about the course here: Namely, very few greens are a flat surface. It goes up and down, the green leans to one side, sometimes on the targeted putt length first to one, following also to the other side. "Break" is the expression for when the green "tilts", i.e. the ball, played in a straight line, will nevertheless not run a straight line.
And to include these breaks in the game, to take into account the direction of the stroke, so that the ball really arrives in or at the hole, this cannot be done without practice. So next time you visit the range, don't forget to use the putting green as a practice area.
Because a botched putting line can totally ruin the best-played hole for your own scorecard. And nothing is more annoying. So it's all the nicer to hear that wonderful "plop" after a maximum of two good putts, which acoustically underscores the success so beautifully.