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Putting is an essential, if not the most important, factor in playing golf.
This is where the game is decided. Nerves of steel and lots of practice are needed to master the art of putting. Even professional golfers feel the pressure when it's time to putt and the game is on the line. Here are some tips to learn and improve on your putting.
First thing to do would be to take practice strokes next to the golf ball. This would help you feel the needed rhythm in putting the ball.
Try to have some marker to help you focus and help you with proper alignment of your putt. A marker is where you will aim the ball as you putt. The position of this marker is dependent on the terrain of the golf course. Essentially all putts are straight shots. The point of aim is the only thing that changes.
When getting ready to putt, be sure that your eyes are focused on the golf ball itself. It will help in lining up the putter with the golf ball. You must remember not to focus on the marker but more on how you will make your shot.
Proper putting stance is needed when putting. Separate your legs with about the same width as your shoulders. This is a standard stance and it should give you a comfortable and balanced posture for your putt.
Your shoulders should be parallel to the direction of the putt. Your arms should be dropped down straight from your shoulders. Your feet can be open or closed, depending on where you are most comfortable. Remember that the more comfortable you are, the more natural your shot will be.
As I mentioned, all putts are straight. It is your aim that will change. When aiming at a flat green just aim straight to the hole. You should practice so that all your putts just follow an imaginary line. When aiming in an elevated green, you should just putt the same. The difference is that you will aim directly at a point above the hole. What you want to happen is for the ball to stop at one point and to let gravity take your ball directly to the putt.
Long putts are more complicated but if mastered will help tremendously with your game. The first thing to do is to sit down behind your ball, facing the hole. From that point of view you'll get to see the low and high points of the green. If it's a fairly straight green, you can just shoot a straight putt in the same way you're shooting small putts. If it's not, then try to evaluate whether to divide your long putt into smaller putts and putt accordingly.
Dividing a long putt depends on the terrain of the golf course. If you see a combination of straight and elevated terrain, dividing it would be better than trying to make your putt in one try. Try to eliminate the elevated terrain so you will have a straight shot putt for your last shot.
Remember that nerves will always come into play when putting. Just stay relaxed and focused on your shots and you'll do fine. Don't blame anyone when you miss your putt, stay focused and just prepare your next shot as if it's your first putt. Take a deep breath and don't let your anger get the best of you.