Beginning golfers looking to improve their putting should concentrate on making a smooth, straight stroke and solid contact. Those are important fundamentals, but they're nearly impossible to groove in your stroke unless you accelerate through the ball.
How do you know if you are or are not accelerating your putter? Set up for a flat 10-foot putt, then take the putter-head back for that distance and stop: The club shouldn't be more than seven or eight inches from the ball before you stroke through. If it is, you're preventing the putter from swinging through as fast as it naturally should. That's deceleration.
In an accelerating putting stroke, you take the putterhead back a short distance, then swing it smoothly through the ball. There's less time and space to make mistakes, making it easier to keep the putterhead square. To help you groove an accelerated stroke, try these three drills:
Drill 1: The Backstop
Find a level 15-foot putt and stick a tee six inches behind your ball, directly on line with the hole. Stroke some putts, taking the putter back until it hits the tee. You must work to accelerate the putter through to get the ball to the cup. Six inches may not be enough of a backswing when you're on the course, but on the putting green it will give you a good feeling of acceleration.
Drill 2: The Axe
Stick four tees in a straight line, spaced two inches apart and address the end tee as if it were a ball. Take the putterhead back three inches and swing through, knocking over all four tees. You'll be forced keep accelerating past initial impact to hit the fourth tee. To ensure taking the putterhead back three inches, use a fifth tee as a backstop.
Drill 3: Full Finish
As you practice on the putting green, follow through on each putt until your putter is at waist level, then hold it. It's impossible to decelerate when you're striving for a full follow-through. You may hit a few putts past the hole initially, but you'll soon get the feel for an accurate, accelerated stroke.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.