How to Putt Better | Advice from a 2x Masters* Champ

Here at PutterCup, we love helping golfers grow their confidence in putting.  One of the things I often get asked about is how to putt better, and I’m always happy to share some advice. The ‘two-time Masters Champion’ thing is no joke—although it’s not the Masters you’re probably thinking about.  I am a two-time winner of the Flatstick Masters, an annual mini golf tournament held at one of the coolest spots in the Pacific Northwest. Their tourney coincides with that other Masters.

Our mission at PutterCup is to help every golfer feel more calm and confident when they putt.  To accomplish this, we help golfers to make their putting practice or pre-round warmup more efficient with training aids that create conditions that are more challenging than the real thing.  We aren't allowed to make the golf hole bigger, but we can help to make it feel bigger.  That alone will help golfers to make more putts.  And because our training aids encourage golfers to narrow their focus while putting, they help to reduce distracting thoughts. 

We hope you will check out our putting training aids, but in the meantime, if you’re wondering about how to putt better, I’ve done some legwork for you by highlighting a few key lessons on putting from five of my favorite books on the subject. These lessons reflect my own philosophy when it comes to putting, and also speak to why PutterCup can help you get better at putting quickly.


Lesson 1: For short putts, concentrate on the line. For long putts, concentrate on the distance.

If you are wondering how to putt better, PutterCups like the Speed Bump and Center Cup help you focus on speed and aim

This excellent advice on how to putt better can be found in one of the most revered golf instruction books ever, Harvey Penick's Little Red Book. This book covers all aspects of golf and belongs on every golfer’s bookcase.

Penick actually dedicated an entire entry in his book to four-foot putts. He posited that golfers miss these knee-knockers due to fear or lack of concentration, or worse, trying to guide the putt into the hole by steering it through break. His advice: Following your routine, simply put your putter behind the ball, keep your head and eyes still, and imitate your last practice stroke.

We had this exact thinking in mind when we designed the PutterCup Speed Bump training aid.  The PutterCup Speed Bump encourages you to make a firm and on-line stroke on short putts -- no steering it through the break!


Lesson 2: Think about the target, not your stroke.

PutterCups from PutterCup Golf are designed for how to putt better by helping you think about the target

This lesson on how to putt better is inspired by Dr. Bob Rotella's fantastic book Putting Out of Your Mind.  (I loved this book, and the title speaks for itself!)

Putting isn’t like a full golf swing—it involves much less movement, coordination, and timing. It’s instinctive. If you hand a kid a putter and a ball and tell them to get the ball in as few strokes as possible, they just go to it and get better at it quickly.  If you look at 100 different golfers, you’ll see 100 different putting routines and strokes.  The only thing that matters is that you feel comfortable and can perform your stroke consistently. 

Beyond that, Dr. Rotella encourages you to focus only on your target. In my opinion, there are few things that reduce your chances of sinking a putt than thinking about what you're doing while you're putting--worrying about whether you're doing it "right."  We had a target-focus in mind when we designed the PutterCup Center Cup, which is bright yellow and shrinks the effective size of the golf hole by 25% so that you really get focused.

I also love this bit of advice from Dr. Rotella and believe you’ll have more fun golfing if you follow it: Take satisfaction from getting yourself in the right frame of mind before you putt, rather than based on whether the putt drops. BRILLIANT.


Lesson 3: You can putt like a pro. Seriously.

PutterCups from PutterCup Golf are how to putt better by focusing on things that pros excel at

I’m a bit of stats nerd, and really like what Mark Broadie's book Every Shot Counts brings to the conversation about how to putt better with its emphasis on statistics in the form of strokes gained. (Broadie helped the PGA Tour develop this stat!)

You can learn a lot by examining what the best golfers in the world do.  Here’s what stood out to me: Pros leave only about 1% of four-footers short. Notice I haven’t focused what percentage of four-footers they make (which is also impressively high). I’ve chosen to focus on what seems to be a cardinal rule on short putts: never leave it short.  When I was a kid, my Grandpa had it right when he would preach, "Firm in the back of the cup."

While I have seen some very confident pros who show no fear at leaving themselves a four-foot comeback putt, Broadie actually recommends rolling the ball 1-2.5 feet past the hole. For what it's worth, the angle of incline created by The PutterCup Speed Bump teaches you to leave yourself these tap-in putts should you miss.

And in an echo of Penick’s advice from earlier, the longer the distance to the hole, the more it makes sense to set a target at or very close to the hole and focus on ‘die-it-in’ speed. (See: PutterCup Center Cup.)


Lesson 4: Beware the “cult of mechanics.”

PutterCups from PutterCup Golf are how to putt better by helping you remove distracting thoughts while you putt


No, I am not talking about a clandestine organization of acolytes repairing automobiles.  I borrowed this phrase from Dave Stockton's book Unconscious Putting because it was simply too catchy not to.  If you are just learning golf and beginning to wonder how to putt better, this might be the first book I’d recommend you pick up. It does a fantastic job of covering all aspects of putting without being overwhelming.

The book acknowledges some of the key fundamentals on things like stance and grip that, while not absolutely required of you to follow, can certainly help you become a more consistent putter.  But the part that resonated most with me was the encouragement to avoid too much emphasis on mechanics—things like what your hands are doing, how far the putter is going back or through, whether it’s straight back and through or on an arc.  All of these things distract you from what matters most: line and speed.


Lesson 5: Simpler is better.

PutterCups from PutterCup Golf are how to putt better by keeping things simple and helping you visualize

This final lesson on how to putt butter is inspired by Dave Pelz's Putting Bible.  If Stockton’s book is a great resource for someone who wants something to snack on, then this book is for someone who wants to feast.  Yet even with the depth this book goes into, Pelz calls this lesson (Simpler is better) the one axiom that governs all his theories on putting.  He also pays homage to the mental side of putting as well.  His advice: you must have an image in your mind’s eye of the stroke you want to make based on past experiences, and the clarity that allows your body to go ahead and execute it without self-doubt. This speaks to why we believe PutterCup training aids will help you become a better putter.  If you can sink a few putts in a row with them, that confidence will carry over to the golf course.

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1 comment

Great information and adding a few of these books to my library.

Richard Lewis

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