By: A.J. Avoli
Director of Instruction,
Omni La Costa Golf Performance Institute

Putting is without a doubt the most unique part of the game of golf. Putting can be referred to as an art as there are many different styles to get the job done. However it is critical that you have 5 essential elements to consistently roll the ball in the hole.

1. Reading the Greens

All great putters have a knack for reading the greens. Slope should be your primary focus, ask your self is this uphill or downhill? Which side is higher the right or the left? How far am I going to roll the ball? These questions will better help you determine the line of your putt. If you are still unsure, walk the putt and feel the green with your feet.

Drill: Pick several different putts, read the putt and then place a tee adjacent the hole on the line you have read, it is helpful if you have a professional or a friend to watch where you are aligned.  Experience is the key so practice reading the greens.

2. Start your ball on your intended line

Once you have selected the line your next goal is to roll the ball on your intended line. Many players use a line on the seam of the ball to line up; others may roll the ball over a spot on the green. Only practice will confirm which process will be more effective for you as an individual.

Drill: Find a putt with a break that is well outside the hole, pick the line and place two stakes and a string on the intended line. Practice rolling the ball on your intended line.

3. Center Contact

The ball reacts to a right angle of the putter face at impact therefore, finding a putter that you align and deliver into impact squarely is critical. Another important variable is where you are contacting the ball on the face of the putter is critical to your distance control. If you are impacting the ball on different locations on the putter face you will be struggling to control your distance.

Drill: Place 2 Rubber bands outside both sides of the center of the putter face just so a ball would fit between them, this will help you feel center contact.

4. Roll the ball end over end

Practicing rolling the ball end-over-end is essential as this helps you determine where you are contacting the ball at the bottom of your putting stroke. Ball position rise and fall angle will have to be correct to get a true roll on the ball. If your ball is rolling end-over-end you will make more putts.

Drill- Using a Sharpie mark your golf ball with two lines on each side of the seam all the way around the golf ball. Roll some putts  and if the lines are not wiggling then you are rolling it end over end.

5. Distance Control

Distance control is King of putting and vital to 3-Putt avoidance.  Control your distance and you will avoid the deadly three putts giving yourself a better chance of making more putts.  To become consistent with your distance control try improving your cadence, controlling the length of your stroke with a consistent speed to your stroke. Ideally, if you are playing maximum break you should allow the ball to roll only six inches by the hole, whereas if you are playing minimum break try for 12 to 18 inches by the hole.

Drill: The ladder drill is excellent to improve your distance control, place five tees five feet apart at 10,15,20,25, and 30 feet. Take five golf balls and practice moving up and down the ladder, trying to get the ball to the tee or slightly past the tee.  This will build your confidence in your distance control. Repeat until you have accomplished the drill 5 times.