Why do professional golfers wind up with far fewer three-putts than amateurs? Hours and hours of practice, for one thing. But it's also due to better putting fundamentals, particularly being able to consistently repeat the same motion.
So how can you improve your putting fundamentals? PGA professional Larry Rinker, specializes in short game skills, particularly putting. Rinker said there are four keys to putting: set-up, path and clubface, rhythm and tempo, and mental focus.
"I like the shaft angle of my putter leaning forward about 2-3 degrees," Rinker said. "It makes it much easier to have the hands forward at impact, and you won't miss putts to the left.
"I keep both thumbs going straight down the shaft, and a little more weight on my left foot than right. Those are all big keys to good, consistent setup."
In addition, Rinker said to make sure your shoulders and forearms are square to the target, and position the ball so that it's about one ball-width inside your left instep.
Path and Clubface:
Control the path the putter head swings on, and keep the clubface square to where you want the ball to start rolling. Even though the club is traveling in an arc, don't twist or turn the clubface to compensate.
"If you just think straight back and straight through, that's the way to go," Rinker said. "Try to return the shaft to the same position where you started, particularly the same angle."
Rhythm and Tempo:
Rinker said the forward stroke should actually take half the time of the backswing on a putt. He believes you can control your distance better than with the traditional pendulum swing.
"Amateurs make the mistake of taking the club too far back in their backswing and then decelerating at the point of impact," Rinker said. "Instead, take a shorter backswing and accelerate through the ball."
If you were counting the beats, Rinker said, instead of a two-beat swing cadence, it's more like one-and-a-half.
This may be the most important of the four, and perhaps the hardest to achieve. You need to shut down any negative thoughts, concentrate on making the correct read -- and then perform the fundamentals correctly to sink the putt. Rinker said this is the positive attitude you need to take onto the course.
"If you walk up to a putt and you're doubting your read, you're doubting your aim, you're doubting your stroke, it's very hard to putt well," Rinker said. "You have to fall in love with your read, you have to fall in love with your stroke and accept and be committed to your aim."