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Undoubtedly, the most frustrating part of this game is putting. For most of us, we hit marvelous shots adding up to hundreds of yards, yet struggling to get the ball in the hole from less than ten yards in as many shots. Part of the reason is that we never practice putting, as we are too eager to reach for the driver at the range. So if you are sick of your putting frustrations, here are a few helpful hints.

Remember, you always have the greatest chance of making a putt if the ball is slowing down right at the hole. Please remember this saying "The ball that fell short of the hole never had a chance to go in, and the ball that went past, did not go in either."

The most important part of putting is the speed of the putt. To achieve accurate, consistent speed it is advisable to use a pendulum stroke, as the pendulum stroke is repeatable and easily adjusted. Keep your hands and arms relaxed and remember to swing from the shoulders, keeping your back swing, and follow through at equal lengths.

The adjustment from here is easy. Simply swing the club back further and through further for more distance. Once you have begun to repeat a stroke and can strike a ball on the putting green to targets at random distances, you must then be able to aim. This is not a piece of cake either, but it will become much easier if you try these two techniques.

When lining up your putt and visualizing the intended line of the putt, it is very important that you gauge the break to the correct entry angle at the cup. This may be confusing, but if you always line your putts up to the center front or back of the cup. They have a smaller portion of the hole to enter, due to the side angle of entry. The actual portion where a well-struck ball will enter the cup will be either right or left of center. By aiming accordingly, this will increase your margin for error.

Also try to visualize the intended break of the putt using a very wide track from ball to cup, instead of a thin line. This technique will allow you to make a more confident stroke since you don't feel the pressure of starting the ball on a pencil thin line. Both of these support confidence and positive repetition.

If your putting style feels awkward, consider a putting technique that mimics your full golf swing. This adjustment may make you feel more comfortable, however like any change it may need some practice to become confident. Some examples of good putters that match this description include Phil Mickelson, long and smooth; Isao Aoki, short fast and wristy; and David Duval, smooth, confident and effortless. Take a look around -- you'll be surprised with the good putters you know.

 ©1999 Craig Hocknull
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