The Most Important Aspect of Short Putting

Continually missing short putts is one thing that frustrates all golfers to no end. And of course no one is immune to, at least bouts of, poor short putting. Anyone that has ever played golf, with the possible exception of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, knows how painful it can be to hit a wonderful approach, only to blow the rare five-foot birdie chance. Or execute a perfect chip – but miss the three-foot par save.

I get asked all the time — what’s the secret to short putting? My answer is always the same and extremely simple — know your line.

I know, I know — most would agree that speed is the most important aspect of putting. Without consistent speed, you cannot have a consistent line. A fifteen-foot putt hit with the force to die at the hole has a completely different line than the same putt hit with the force to go 3 feet past the hole. So yes, I think overall, speed is the most important thing in putting. But — on short putts — or at least most short putts — line is the most important thing.

I tell my students to be speed-aware from outside 5 feet and line-aware from inside 5 feet. This is usually a good rule of thumb — unless you’re lucky enough to play a course line Augusta National everyday. Then you may have to worry about speed on 3-foot putts as well. But for the rest of us who play on normal golf courses — we can usually get away with thinking about line only from short distances.

Here’s what I want you to do.

Go to the drug or hardware store and buy some string. Then, cut off about 15 feet of string and attach both ends to either long nails or pencils. Just wrap the string around the pencils or nails and use regular scotch tape to secure the connection. When done, you will have the two pencils or nails connected by the string. And my guess is; the distance, when pulling the string taut, between the two pencils will be about 10 feet or so. That’s perfect!

Okay, next I want you to find a straight putt on your practice green. Then, take one of the pencils or nails and stick it in the ground just behind the hole. Then, put the other pencil or string in the ground as far away from the hole as the length of your string will allow. Now, with the string, you should have a straight taut line sitting a good 3-4 inches above the ground. This will be your training tool to become a great short putter.

Now, go ahead and place your ball directly under the string — about 5 feet from the hole. Also, in set-up, your eyes should be directly over the ball and the string should dissect the ball. This guarantees the ball is perfectly on the correct line. From there, just make putts. You will be able to see in a matter of minutes what kind of stroke you have. If you cannot make putts from there — then you have some work to do. But my guess is — you will, within 10-20 balls, start making putts consistently. And within a couple practice sessions, you’ll start making 50 putts in a row easily. What’s happening is — the certainty of the line has improved your stroke and confidence. You KNOW the line, which allows you to trust. It really is that simple.

Next, as you’re setting up to the ball and making all these putts in row — pay attention! Pay attention to looks and feels. And most important, see the string before you stroke every putt. Swivel your eyes right down the string line and see the ball rolling in the hole. Then, when on the golf course, visualize the string. As you set up to the ball and prepare to make your stroke — swivel your eyes and “see” that string. Of course it won’t be there — but you can still see it. As a matter a fact, a lot of times, in practice rounds, I have my students take the string with them. Then, when they have a five-foot putt — I tell them to set up the string — just to get confidence.

If you do this — you will make tons of short putts — and score much better.

So remember — know your line from short distances and watch your scores drop considerably.

Good Luck!

16 Responses to “The Most Important Aspect of Short Putting”

  1. Bob says:

    Andy, along with your putting tips, I would ask, do you have any tips for me, as I use a 52in. putter?

  2. hassan says:

    Hi Andy – I really feel that I’m being groomed up by your great tips. Tq

  3. Mike says:

    Hello Andy
    I have tried this method after seeing Phil Mickelson using it. It is a very sound method of improving those short putts I can vouch for that as my short putt misses have reduced quite a bit.
    Thanks again for your tips

  4. Alistair says:

    Hi Andy

    Sounds like a good routine for those with the time to practise and I do hope those students are letting the games behind play through!

    However, I have a technique that you may wish to pass on to those players who have ever suffered from the short putt “pull” or “push”. I can hardly bring myself to write the word “yip”.

    Most short putts are missed through breaking the wrists shortly before
    or just at impact. Many tutors and books have laid the foundation for
    this problem by recommending that the strength of the grip should be
    akin to that of squeezing an egg without breaking it or some other such
    notion. It’s just too soft!

    I would recommend that for putts of less than five feet that the player
    grips the putter with as much force as it would take to break the egg.
    The extra tension in the wrist and lower arm makes it almost impossible
    to roll the right hand over left at impact, the main cause of missed
    short putts.

    The extra force may dilute the ability to judge the pace being applied,
    but, as discussed above, it is line that is more important.

    Other key factors in all putting are a still body and a still head.

    Why not try it next time you’re on the putting green before going out to


    Alistair (handicap 2)

  5. Karin says:

    Hi Andy, on very quick and slick greens a straight putt on a level green is relatively easy to putt. I find it very difficult to putt from the sides if the hole is on a slope. Our greens do not alsways slope from right to left on the right side of the hole and left to right from the left side. A missed putt is a gauranteed 2 ft putt coming back – very frustrating!! I cannot see how a straight piece of string is going to show me the where the ball turns towards the hole, but will give it a try. Regards Karin

  6. Christopher says:

    One of the best and sensible short putting tips I have come across.
    Time to cut down on my misses.

    Thank you Andy.

    Kins Regards,

  7. Layton Martin says:

    Hi Andy
    Well I didn’t really think it was possible….that is your coaching and expertise via daily emails. The golfing tips and the very useful pointers of how to save strokes immediately really has worked for me. After 3 months of reading practising and playing 5 rounds of golf I now fully understand my golf swing and how to trust myself when experimenting with your techniques. This week the results materalised for me and in the last two rounds I have knocked of 10 strokes off my card and that has been on the back of your information… I have been shooting 99-100 but now I have been hitting very low 90s (slope 121)………..Thank you Andy! My new goal is to shoot 85 within the next three months, and do you know that I now have the confidence to do so. I highly recommend and applaud your system.
    Regards Layton Martin – New Zealand

  8. John says:

    Hi Andy,

    Tried the magic moves with instant success! Longer, straighter shots bringing greater confidence. However, I have difficulty in linking the wrist break into a smooth backswing. I’ll persevere though. Your putting tips have certainly taken me out of the doldrums. Now have much more confidence with the horrors of 3 putting but a distant memory!



  9. Lalit Mital says:

    Hi Andy,
    Putting tips provided by you really helped me in improving my game.
    Many thanks

  10. Jerry says:

    Hi Andy,

    A great putting tip ,not only for Me,but for My wife and two grandsons.

    Andy,tomorow My wife and I will be heading for Florida for a few weeks,so THE 4 MAGIC MOVES will be getting a real workout…..I’m getting pretty excited ,because everything works really well indoors here at home.

    I will keep you posted ,after getting back.

    Thanks for helping this old Man get excited about the game all over again.


  11. jock mullan says:

    makes sense, it would be easy enough to set up at home also,cant wait to give it a go

  12. Robert Turner says:

    Hi Andy,
    Since signing up with your programme, my golf has improved ten fold.
    I have, today read your breathing and putting techniques and look forward to putting them into practice.
    I would, however like more info. if possible on golf phsychology.

    Kind Regards from a uncharacteristic sunny Sunday morning from the UK.

    Robert Turner

  13. Len Rideout says:

    I am grateful for another great tip regarding putting. Those five foot putts can be the difference between a good round and a bad one. I shot a par 72 on Tuesday 36 stableford points. Not sure if I won anything since I had to leave the club early. It is all due to the SWING SECRETS of that I am sure.

  14. Brian Dickenson says:

    I’ll string along with that!!

  15. derek says:

    Keep the good tips coming!

  16. Hassanali says:

    Hi Andy
    Great tips. Great articles. I have improved my game a lot reading them. Keep up.

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