Kay’s Game Improvement: “Roll, Roll, Roll Your Putt”

LPGA Hall of Fame Professionals Instructor Kay MacMahon offers simple, sound advice on how to improve your putting stroke, which is about 40% of your strokes during one round.


There should be two kinds of putts…. the first putt and the second putt. If the first putt is good, then the second putt is easy or even eliminated. So, let’s focus on how to putt for the dough…as they say, because becoming a great putter makes up for other sins.

When discussing putting, one has heard it all. . .the endless theories, preferences, stances, set-ups and of course, advice….” keep your head down”; “don’t move”; “listen for it”; “eyes over the ball”, “follow through”; “left hand low”; “buy a new putter”; and on and on.

So much information! Let’s simplify and start with three basic fundamentals:

What must the ball do? . . .ROLL and roll well . . .end over end.

What must the putter do? … SWING to make center club face contact to center of ball.

What must you do? . . .SWING or operate the putter (the tool) to ROLL the ball.

Practice drills with your putter are essential to devleoping a better stroke.

First, understand what a good roll means. To roll, according to Webster, means to revolve or rotate around an axis. The concept of putting is to create topspin or to roll the bottom of the ball over the top. True roll results in more consistent distance, with less force, keeping the ball better on line or tracking better without skidding. The ball rolls with less reaction to variables such as grain or slopes producing a more consistent result. When the ball rolls end over end it can fall into the cup from either edge, instead of spinning out. This increases the width of the hole by 2/3rds because it does not have to hit the center all the time. You make many more putts this way!

Second, is to understand how to swing or how to use the putter – the tool – to roll the ball. The concept “pendulum” is often preached but gives a false interpretation or impression. Swinging like a pendulum simply means to move the putter head and your hands equal distances on either side according to the distance of the putt. The fulcrum point or swinging point should NOT be the tip of the putter, but should move from the shoulder joint with elbow ben.

Start from the ground up with the putter head. To roll the ball end over end keep the putter head square to the intended line and keep the face as perpendicular to the ground for as long as possible. The pendulum concept should be more that the putter head would be making a low arc by going up, back down, and then back up while keeping the putter face as perpendicular to the ground throughout that arc. The shape is like a saucer.

Third. . .how do you do that? The hands operate the putter no matter what type of grip is used, how you stand, or how you see the line. Your hands move the putter and should move approximately the same distance back and through as the putter head. If your hands stop as they approach the ball, the putter head keeps moving to strike the ball which causes the face angle to change to open or closed, changing the direction, not only to the intended line, but also the relationship to the ground. This creates a sidespin and not a true roll around the axis. The ball does not stay on line well, yet moves forward but skids.


After learning to roll the ball, distance and direction are more easily understood and executed. Other factors, such as reading greens, determine how much break, still totally rely on speed. Speed or distance is 99% of every putt which directly relates to how much break to allow.

Keep the putter square to the line and square to the ground, your hands must move forward while keeping your wrist position the same or quiet as possible. Practice by first working on technique or how to swing the club to roll the ball. To practice technique, take the target or the hole out of it. Simple practice on the green working on the stroke first and feel the solid centeredness of contact.

As technique improves, a variety of drills can lead to even more effective putting, such as: The “Track Drill” to putt between two clubs on the ground; “Fringe Benefits” to putt from several distances to the fringe; “Round the Clock” drill to putt around the hole from 3 feet; “Ladder” drill to put 10 balls in a line one foot apart and putt to within a 3 foot circle around the hole.


(Kay MacMahon, a member of LPGA Hall of Fame Professsional, id Online Instruction Editor for Pro Golf Weekly, eSouthernGolf and new england dot Golf.)


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