By Steven Wolt

As any experienced golfer will tell you, a 5-foot putt counts for the same number of strokes as a 300-yard drive down the middle of the fairway. With an estimated two-thirds of the game played around the green and at least a third played on it, putting represents one of the most important skill sets a solid golfer possesses. As such, if you have any hope of shaving strokes off your total score, it is important to refine your putting game. Here are a few quick tips to help you sharpen up your short game.

Assess the situation: As with all golf shots, it is important that you take note of any breaks in the green, which represent obstacles you will have to navigate if you hope to make a putt. Similarly, the speed of the grass can have a tremendous impact on how far the ball will roll after you hit it.

Set up for the putt: Before you get into your putting stance, look down at the ball and adjust your feet around it. Because precise foot placement plays such a crucial role in the execution of a good putt, you must never take your eyes off the ball while you set your body. When setting up for a putt, you should typically start at the top of your body, working your way from your shoulders through your arms and hips and down to your feet. Bend your neck and shoulders slightly while keeping your left arm close to your torso and your right hand close to the right thigh.

Use a sound grip: Although a variety of putting grips have surfaced in recent years, the majority of golfers still use the same basic grip. Grip the handle of the putter with the palm of your left hand, keeping your thumb on the top of the grip and your forefinger extended down the shaft for extra stability during the swing. Place your right hand in front of your left hand, allowing the last knuckle of the left middle finger to gently rest in the palm of your right hand.   

Keep still throughout the entire swing: In almost every case, you should keep your head down and your body still during the entire putting process. Many golfers lift their heads too soon to see where the ball is going, which often results in a pulled putt.

Practice often: Simply put, practice makes perfect. Get out on the green and pay close attention to all aspects of your stance and swing.

About the Author

An avid golfer and member of Scarsdale Golf Club in Hartsdale, New York, Steven Wolt possesses more than 17 years of experience in the fields of estate planning and life insurance. Wolt currently works at ParqAdvisors, a life insurance and estate planning firm based in Beverly Hills, California.