7 Tips to Improve Your Putting Stroke to Sink More Birdies
Written by Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8

Updated on December 12, 2023

Amateurs I speak to spend insane amounts of time worrying about the tiniest equipment specifications. Mostly, their aim is to maximize distance. However, these same players struggle around the green and neglect their short game. That is why I have compiled 7 tips to help your putting stroke.

I will explain how your golf ball, grip, and hosel influence the accuracy and distance control of putts. But, more importantly, I have compiled tips to help you improve your putting stroke. If you can dial your performance with the flat stick, you will start to consistently shave strokes off your handicap.

You should also learn about the 8 best putting drills to card more birdies. These exercises will increase your consistency on the dancefloor for fewer 3-putts and more birdies.


What is a Putting Stroke?

In simple terms, a putting stroke is your swing with a flat stick. It refers to when you take your putter head back and through to connect the golf ball.

There are 3 predominant putting strokes, including the straight, straight-arc, and arc. The straight stroke occurs when players take the putter head away on a straight line and follow the same path through to the ball.

The second putting stroke is often displayed by PGA Tour professionals. This is a straight-arc stroke. As the same suggests, players induce a combination of straight back and arc motions for a square face at impact.

Finally, an arc stroke occurs when golfers produce increased face twisting between takeaway and impact.

It is vital to understand what putting stroke you have to identify the correct putter specs. Otherwise, you will experience inaccuracy and erratic distance control on the green.


Does The Ball You Use Matter for Putting?

The ball you use does not matter for the average golfer. I say that because you probably do not strike it consistently in the center of the clubface for it to impact your result. However, GolfWorks shows how the position of your ball at set-up can influence the direction that it rolls off the putter face:

GolfWorks explains that when the weight of the ball is positioned to the left or right, it veers off in that direction. When weight is positioned upwards, it produces a purer roll to remain on its target line.

Now, if you strike the ball off-center, it will miss on the left or right-hand side of the cup. Even the weight of the ball is facing up. That is where the majority of us average golfers sit.


7 Tips to Improve Your Putting Stroke

1. Hosel Selection

The first step to optimizing your putting stroke is to select a putter with the correct hosel for your stroke. Once you know what stroke you have, you can identify the ideal hosel to increase stability and limit face rotation.

Golfers with a straight back and through putting technique tend to excel with a double bend hosel. This shaft construction helps balance the club face, keeping it square through impact. Another option for straight strokes is a center shaft, which is also face-balanced.

Conversely, players with an arc putter path are better equipped for a short hosel. It also works for those who work their wrists excessively during the stroke. These hostels create toe hang in the face, which mitigates face rotation to square it up through impact.

Furthermore, a plumber’s neck is built for those with a slight arc and straight swing path. These putters feature some toe-hang to get your face square for a straighter shot.

2. Shaft Length

The next step is to consider the length of your putter shaft. Employ a posture where you are completely in control of your stroke. Some players find that bending over and getting their eyes directly over the ball is the best way to ensure the correct alignment. A standard 34 or 33-inch shaft may do the trick in this instance.

However, taller golfers who prefer to stand more upright at address may opt for a 35-inch shaft. The length of your shaft impacts the angle that your face strikes the ball through impact. If it is too long for your setup you may struggle to square up the putter face in time for contact.

On the other hand, a short shaft might lead to a closed face at impact, resulting in putts missing to the left of the cup.

3. Putter Grip Setup

Try a few different putting grips to find the one that produces the best control and feel. One option is the claw grip. Tommy Fleetwood is an excellent claw putting stroke teacher. He provides a simple explanation of the technique in the below video, but I will touch on the basics:

Effectively, your grip locks between your thumb and index finger on your strongest hand. That means right hand for right-handers and left for left hand golfers. This boosts the stability of the club and limits face rotation.

Another option that I use on the practice green is left-hand low and right-hand above. As a right-hander, it reduces my ability to move the wrists. Therefore, it keeps the face straight through the stroke.

My actual setup is the conventional grip. I keep the hands connected to encourage the palms to work together. It feels more comfortable for me and provides optimal feedback. Unfortunately, it can cause my wrists to rotate during the stroke.

4. Strike The Ball On The Up

For optimal distance control and accuracy, your ball must roll purely. This can only be achieved if you connect the ball cleanly. I see many amateurs stab at the ball instead of stroking it. This leads to them striking the ball on a downward trajectory limiting the topspin the low lofted club produces.

Therefore, you should work on striking the ball a moment after the low point of your stroke. PGA coach Todd Kolb recommends an effective drill that requires no fancy training aid. Place a Sharpie 6 to 8-inches behind your ball and stroke away. If you strike the sharpie on your follow-through, it highlights that you are bringing it down too early in the stroke:

5. Gate Drill

To become a great putter, you need to master accuracy. This starts by understanding alignment and reading the slope of the green. Once you know how to read your line, the next step is to keep your ball on the target line for the entire putt.

For optimal accuracy, your clubface needs to remain square through impact. You can work on this by placing your ball between 2 tees and a further 2 3-inches ahead of that. This setup prompts your ball to start on the desired line and roll to the cup.

Alternatively, you can find a friendly device online or at your local golf retail store. One option is the PuttOut Putting Trainer.

6. Follow The Line

This is an easy exercise that you can work on to boost your stroke path consistency. In addition, it improves your rhythm and tempo. Use a ruler or another golf club and practice taking your putter back and forward along the line. You can even use the grout in your tiles as a guideline.

If you prefer the presence of a proper alignment aid, think about the Kingtop Putting Alignment Mirror.

7. Distance Control Practice

Amateurs tend to struggle with distance control, especially on startling longer putts. This tip is simple. When you practice your skills with the flat stick, pick a spot on the other side of the green. Putt 10 to 20 balls to the point, and see how many you get within a 2-foot radius.

Then work it back by picking a spot in the middle of the green, and finally, one within 10-feet of you. This drill helps you understand how hard to strike the ball for each distance.

BONUS: Practice More at Home Using a Good Putting Mat

Since you can’t always make it out to a real putting green to work on these tips, I recommend investing in a good putting mat that you can use to practice at home. My colleague August recently reviewed the PrimePutt alongside 2 others and rated it his top putting mat.

Top Pick
PrimePutt Putting Mat

Lower your score and increase consistency by practicing daily on a quality, tour-grade, true roll turf mat.

Check Price on PrimePutt Read Our Full Review

Here’s what August had to say after thoroughly testing out this mat over several weeks:

“This mat had the closest to a real grass feel. I was amazed at how well it laid flat right out of the box.

I love that the ball sits at the back of the cup when you make one in. What this does is avoid having your next ball deflect out, which I thought was really cool.

The mat doesn’t leave massive footprints when you’re walking on it, like the other mats I tested.

I’ve sent some feedback to the PrimePutt team no how I think they can further improve the mat, and they told me they’re working on those as we speak.”

Check out PrimePutt’s mat here.


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Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8