You know the feeling.
You hit a good chip shot, so good that it almost rolls in the hole for a birdie. It just misses, however, and slides 3 feet past.
But it’s above the cup.
And you don’t consider yourself a good putter.
In fact, your touch on the green is so shaky, now you’re worried about missing the jar on the par putt and having a knee-knocker coming back.
So you jab at the downhiller, barely moving the ball forward, and it stops next to the cup. Never had a chance to go in. You tap it in for bogey.
But here’s the saddest part of all: You’re actually relieved. At least you didn’t make a double.
For a long time, I was that guy. It drove me crazy. I judged rounds on how many 3-footers I missed – and there often were at least a couple. If we were playing a match, my opponents knew not to concede a putt. They knew I was praying I wouldn’t have to putt it.
In desperation, I switched to the “left hand low” putting style in 2012. For too long, I had fought my habit of turning my right hand at impact and yanking a short putt to the left. I had to do something to take the right hand out of the equation.
At first, my new crosshanded style felt completely weird. There were a couple of rounds where I went back and forth between grips because I just couldn’t get a feel for the new style.
But then I made a command decision: I was going with the left hand low, no matter what. And am I ever glad I did. I’ll never go back to the conventional grip.
I still consider myself only a fair putter, but my thought process is completely different. I no longer try not to miss too badly. I no longer concentrate on what my right hand is going to do more than what the putt is going to do.
Now, my sole thought is on the line, and I truly can say that I believe I’m going to make every putt. Which is how it should be. If you don’t think it’s going in, you’re defeated before you even make a stroke.
I also think my stroke looks much better. I’m much more focused on accelerating through the ball. Even when I don’t make a long putt, I often scare the hole. And I definitely make a much higher percentage of short putts.
But the true confirmation of how much I’ve improved came the other day.
A friend who has been struggling with the conventional grip – just like I did, he can’t get his right hand under control – told me he’s thinking about switching to left hand low. And here’s the kicker: He wanted to talk to me about how it has worked for me. He had seen me make a couple of long putts in our last round together.
Imagine that. Someone actually wants my advice about putting. Before 2012, that would have been like asking Charles Barkley for swing tips.
If you’re one of the many golfers who struggle around the green, I urge you to consider making a change with your grip, your stance, your setup, something. Don’t just keep doing the same thing and keep getting the same maddening results.
Get a lesson from a pro who’s a good putter and then stick with your new approach. It probably won’t feel good for a while. The results might be even uglier. But STICK WITH IT.
Hitting a golf ball is hard enough. There’s nothing worse than learning how to hit it more consistently well and then throwing away strokes on the putting surface.
However, the various styles you see on the green represent yet another beauty of our great game: There are a lot of different ways to get the ball in the hole. You simply need to find the right one.
Go to left hand low, and the left hand will know what the right hand is doing – nothing. It’s just along for the ride. You’re leading with your left hand. It’s a lot harder to yank a putt with that grip … and that’s the biggest relief of all.