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Pro Tip: Start Treating Every Putt Like It's Straight

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Every putt is a straight putt. Yes, you read that correctly, all putts are straight. 
As golfers, we make the game endlessly complicated. We look for reasons to engage our attention that just aren’t there. If there’s one thing we learned this weekend from the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Champion Billy Horschel, making key putts wins golf tournaments. He repeated it to the press, one of the keys to his success this week was making putts under 10 feet. His words, not mine.
How can we improve our success rate on putts let’s say inside 6 feet? 
Start by treating those putts as straight putts. Before your argumentative side starts to eat you alive, here’s the point — all putts are struck straight toward something. It might be a spot near the hole, the high point of your arc, or simply an aim point just a few feet in front of you. Yes putts of course break, but we aim and then strike putts straight toward something.
Hitting it straight requires us to be lined up straight, the putter face straight, the strike true and follow through completely online. See, endlessly complicated. What if you were confident those items on your checklist were correct? Here’s a simple way to start you down the road to sinking more 6 footers. You will need a couple of items to complete this drill: 8 feet of string and two pencils. They don’t have to be #2!
Take the end(s) of the string and anchor/tie it to each one of the pencils. Make sure you tie the string as close to the eraser end as possible. Grab your putter and a couple of golf balls. Head out onto your practice green and look for straight putts. Level and straight is best, but anything straight will do. By level, I mean neither uphill or downhill. Once you find your spot, stick one pencil in the ground directly behind the center of the hole. Take the other pencil and pull it until the string is taught along the line of the putt you selected.
Start at about 3 feet from the hole. Place the ball directly under the string. Hit a couple of putts. Get your self-aligned parallel to the string. Get the face of the putter perpendicular to the string. Make your normal stroke and observe what happens. Did the ball role straight down the line? 
This drill will teach you some very interesting things. Assess what you saw and adjust accordingly to hit a straight putt into the hole. Do not adjust your alignment or putter face, we already established them. The stroke you take may move the putter off the string line, and that’s okay. The ball should always stay on the string line.
Continue to practice those three footers. Then move back to four feet, five feet, etc. Most greens it is tough to find a flat putt over 5 or 6 feet. That’s okay because we are trying to really refine our talents on those par-saving match play killers. Continue this practice regimen and your self-awareness in putting will increase immensely. 
Now you can hit a straight putt. You have a personal connection to how it looks, it feels and most importantly how it sounds when the ball hits the bottom of the cup.