By Arlen Bento Jr. USGTF Contributing Writer
One of my best golf putting lessons for new players or players that are struggling with distance control in putting is my 1-2-3 putter setup golf lesson. This concept is very simple yet very powerful for players that have a difficult time controlling speed on putts.
What you want to do is to get your students to set up with a narrow putting stance on short putts, I call this the #1 setup; I only want enough space between the feet to allow 4-6 inches, or the length of one putter head. I like to actually place a putter between my feet to demonstrate the spacing. Once the spacing is in place, I instruct the player to only take the putter back to the toe of the trail foot.
I like to use a forward ball position in my putting instruction. My idea is that I really like to have my students be aware of rolling the golf ball on putts. To achieve a better roll, I like a player to feel like the putter is striking the upper half of the golf ball at impact, so I need a forward ball position.
In the setup, I instruct the player to let the weight of the putter control the strike, no extra hit, or pop in the motion. I like them to feel a pendulum motion, letting the weight of the putter control movement and the strike of the golf ball. I encourage each player to use a symmetrical movement in the exercise: Let the putter move back to the trail foot toe (right toe for right-handed player), and then let the putter head move forward in a pendulum motion past the front toe the same distance. In most cases, we are talking about a putting stroke that moves back away from the ball 6-8 inches and through the ball 6-8 inches in the #1 setup. This consistent motion will create a consistent putt that travels the same distance every time. The goal is to use five balls in practice to no target, I call this “putt to nowhere” and try to get all five balls to travel the same distance, creating a small cluster using this exercise. All the player has to do is to remember what distance they create based on #1 setup and match that distance to their setup when they play.
Short putt, #1 setup. I get a lot of 5- to 7-foot putts in the #1 setup with my students.
Once the player has created the #1 setup and motion, all they have to do is simply widen their stance to 10-12 inches for the #2 setup. I like to explain the idea of being able to space two putter heads in length between my feet. Using the same ball position, let the putter head move back to the toe of the trail foot, and with a pendulum motion, strike the golf ball with a symmetrical follow through. Because of the larger setup, the putter head will move with a longer stroke, creating a longer follow through and a longer putt. Just like in the #1 setup, each player will have to learn how far the putt rolls with the #2 stroke vs. the #1 stroke, depending on green speeds.
In the #2 setup, I get a lot of 15- to 21-foot putts with my students.
Finally, the #3 stance is 15-18 inches apart, spacing three putter heads between the feet; longer putting stroke, longer putt. As I teach this concept, I am instructing the student to feel the putting stroke, not hit the ball.
In the #3 set up, I get a lot of 30- to 40-foot putts with my students.
Over time, each player will develop a confidence in controlling speed, thus improving distance control and improving putting.
Arlen Bento Jr. is an award-winning golf coach and “Top 100” world-recognized golf instructor. He is the former head golf professional of the PGA Country Club in PGA Village and director of golf/general manager of Eagle Marsh Golf Club in Jensen Beach, Florida. He operates his indoor golf center in Stuart, Florida, and outdoor golf academy in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he specializes in player development, and offers his highly successful “Bento Golf Method” to players that want to learn how to get better. For more information, you can contact him via his websites www.arlenbentojrgolflessons.com or www.bentogolfmethod.com.