By Joe Thiel


Instruction in this great game of ours has taken several different roads over the last 30+ years but the core basics of athletic instinctive movement still are there and always will be. Another important basic is mastering the flat stick, (i.e. putting), and this mastery has separated decent players and great players. Each of us instructors that have been around for many years have our own ideals and methods if you will, that have propelled our players forward in their scoring and this surely includes putting. Let me take just a few minutes of your time and share some of my many years of views on putting, the putter in general and what I have learned as absolutes for all players of all levels.

It is obvious to all of course that one stroke is one stroke whether with a driver or a 5 foot putt. Given that, our putting numbers and ability dramatically affect the bottom line score and this is really what most people are trying to improve. The above average tournament type of competitor hits 12-13 greens in regulation and averages 29- 30 putts a round. The best are even lower than this. What this of course tells us is that these players have decent control of their long game distances and ball flight but more then that they have even better control and are astute on the greens. Our ability to score is a direct reflection of our short game and putting. The ability to produce low scores obviously is a direct reflection on putting. Since that is the case then we must establish the following purchase and instructional absolutes.

Most folks are driven to purchase a putter that someone they know has, or a tournament player won with, or a recommendation etc. These rack purchases I call them typically end up in the garage after a while and we go back to that old one that you have used for years. The simple reason is that this old friend feels better and you seem to have some control with it. You’re not sure why but it is just feels easy and good… The likely fact is that it just fits you a bit better and it feels easier to control speeds somewhat. Most folks make huge mistakes when purchasing and attempt to conform to their purchase and not the other way around. Let me give you a few tips.

When you are looking for just the right putter, make 4 smart “self fit” decisions.

  1. Make sure the putter soles well on the floor/green as you relax your normal arm hang. Do not adjust your body to sole it…
  2. Take along a simple yardstick or some other form of aiming device and check to see if you can aim that face without readjustments at a simple target 5 feet away. I not talking about general aim but pretty dead center aim at a small object.       Since most people readjust their aiming after seeing the first aim is off, have a friend do the aim check 5 times before you get to see the results. What good is a putter if you can’t aim it? Instructionally speaking there are several reasons why people can’t see the aim line etc but we will not go into that as it is an article in itself. So with what you have in set up ability already, check your aim…
  3. If you fall in love with the weight, length that fits your arm hang, and the feel coming off the insert for speed etc, then you are well on your way.
  4. A good final check is to see if the balance of your putter will produce non controlled, gravity let go, perfect results dead at the target.       If you were taking instruction from me you first would be required to roll 7 twelve foot putts in a row on a chalk line struck on the green or indoors with eyes closed so you do not see the results. The idea here is to gravity let go of the putter and allow it to follow our body’s lead traveling where it well pleases. If this produces uninhibited rolls right down that chalk line then you quite possibly have some decent equipment and a stroke that is allowed to move without internal and external over controls. Having this is a great step to you becoming awesome on the greens.

A few of my instructional tips to become a better putter

  1. Your body’s personal set up that produces path and impact putter face without effort.
  2. An eye alignment and vertical head hang that produces immaculate aiming on flat and tilted surfaces.
  3. A hold on the putter that produces repeatable face production throughout the stroke without any effort of control.
  4. A consistent non-hitting “tempo” type rhythm that easily produces any visual distance you wish.
  5. A mental frame that is totally based on fearless trust at any length never concerned with the outcome.
  6. Basic green and grain reading techniques that just get better and better with event experience.

My further advice is for you to find just the right teacher in your area to create the right learning environment to establish these principles. It will go a very long way for you to enjoy the game that much more.

So when making a putting purchase make much more then the obvious aesthetic choice, make a smart and productive choice.


book-cam-image From one who is considered among the nation’s top teachers comes A Master Teacher’s Secrets To Accelerated Golf Performance, an informative and practical guide to achieving success in golf.



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About Joe

Joe Thiel has spent 40 years helping others learn and enjoy the game of golf.He is one of only a few golf professionals in the U.S. who has earned the prestigious PGA Master Professional designation. The local PGA region has honored him as the PGA Teacher of the Year three times - in 1993, 1995, and 1997. He was also inducted into the Mercer County Hall of Fame in 1999, and into the 'Millennium Who's Who in America.' Golf Magazine has also honored Joe with the title of Top 100 Teachers in America for many years and Golf Driving Range Magazine has also honored him as one of the top 50 Teachers in America. More About Joe.