It doesn’t matter how beautifully you strike your irons or how far those drives soar off the tee. If you can’t get the ball in the hole, then what’s the point? If you’re a great putter it will undoubtedly take your golf to the next level and take pressure off other parts of your game.
Simply looking at the 2023 LPGA Tour average putting stats, you could be led to think that No1 on the ranking list, 21-year-old Yaeeun Hong, is the best in the world (see top 10 below) but she has only played in 33 tournaments this season.
Stats aside, I’ve selected a few of the world’s best female players and unravel why they shine with the short stick.
Reading Greens – Ruoning Yin
Being able to read greens is crucial. Whether you can simply see the line or you use Aim Point (used by the likes of Lydia Ko and Charley Hull to name but a few), the ability to see where the ground falls and to take in the bigger picture is essential.
Reading greens effectively begins on the fairway as players walk up to the green. Taking into account what is either side of the green and the natural topography of the land will indicate where the ball will roll on the putting surface. Seeing that line and committing to it is something that World No 2 Ruoning Yin demonstrates beautifully. She’s tenacious and with a Major under her belt this season she rolls in birdie putts and has a thirst for winning. This gritty attitude helps when it comes to reading greens, seeing a line and trusting it.
Distance Control – Anna Nordqvist
Distance control is something that needs to be almost programmed into your subconscious. The players who are formidable lag putters are those with acutely sensitive dials for distance control. This doesn’t happen by chance, these players drum it into their systems, but I also believe but also feel that some players just have the ability to feel how much to give a putt. Amateurs underestimate how much these pros practise long putts, especially during practice rounds.
One of the best at judging distance is Anna Nordqvist, who shows the most incredible touch on the greens, but especially when putting from way off the green. This proves the steely focus that Anna possesses and why she is one of the best.
Commit To A Routine – Georgia Hall
Maintaining focus and not being distracted sounds like an obvious trait that all great putters share. I often talk about being able to soften background noise and having ‘quiet eyes’ so that all your attention is on the putt in hand and not the greenkeeper approaching or your playing partner still chatting.
Players with busy eyes that flit from one distraction to the next often see putts slide by. Following your pre-shot routine without a moment of hesitation is something that will help you to have more successes on the greens. Georgia Hall is a great example of having that tunnel vision and sticking to her routine regardless of how much is hanging on holing it.
Charley Hull suffers from ADHD and it would be easy for her to get distracted so she sticks thoroughly to her routine with Aimpoint helping her to zone in her mind for the job in hand. Having a system is like a call to action. Both players average under 30 putts a round proving their place in the LPGA rankings. If you struggle to focus, try saying ‘Tick-Tock’ as you putt. Nothing else can jump in your mind and you will maintain rhythm and smooth acceleration.
Machine-Like Stroke – Nasa Hataoka
Those players with a stroke so steady and repetitive that they hardly ever miss will always convert those arrow-like approach shots to birdies. I’m so impressed with Japanese player Nasa Hataoka, who holed 11 straight putts after hitting her approach shots like lasers in round 1 at the end-of-season CME Group Tour Championship. She carded a 63 which saw her putter on fire and her stroke so steady it would shake the nerves of anyone playing her in match play.
One of the things that Nasa and other top putters do to create steadiness is that their eyes don’t rise up until the ball has travelled at least 4 feet. If your stroke is steady and unwavering you’re going to hole out more. Those who watch the predicted route of the putt as it leaves the face will have doubt in their mind and a clubface that is no longer square. Here are a few tips to help you send that ball home more often.
Alignment Is Key – Danielle Kang
Using an alignment tool on your ball will really help to strengthen your putting process for stroking the putter up and down the line. A player who has had great success using a line on her ball is Danielle Kang and she sits pretty at No2 on the LPGA average putting rankings. If her Solheim Cup performance was anything to go by, she isn’t going anywhere soon. Her work with Butch Harmon in recent years has taught her not to cry over spilt milk and to get the job done. Focus on what she can do well and not lose energy on things that would frustrate some.
Release Any Tension – Ariya Jutanguarn
Players who always smile carry little tension, such as Ariya Jutanguarn. Smiling is her anchor in her pre-shot routine that tells herself she’s ready and she’s grateful. She worked hard to find happiness on the course following a slump in mood during her rookie year on the LPGA (2015). She sought the help of Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott at Vision54 in Scottsdale. They helped with her ‘human’ processes and encouraged a routine that celebrated why she loves golf rather than going after wins. Wow, did it pay off. Be more like Ariya, smile and you can’t be tense.
Parking Missed Putts And Moving On – Lydia Ko
Being able to focus on the putt you’re about to hole right now and ONLY that putt in hand is a gift. Leaving a missed putt in the past and being able to nail a 5-footer on the next hole without hesitation is key when it comes to being unbeatable on the greens. Not allowing poor putts to haunt you means a fast recovery and impressive damage limitation.
Lydia Ko has long been deemed as one of the top putters in the game. Even when her results haven’t been dazzling this season on the LPGA tour, her putting continues to be so consistent and she ranks 4th in the average putting stats. Professional players must have the ability to recover and move on from hiccups fast. Amateurs can learn from the pros. It comes back down to sticking to a routine and sheer focus on the job in hand.
Self-Belief – Alison Lee
To be a great putter you have to believe you can hole anything from anywhere. The ball is going in and that’s that. This self belief often carries you on the greens, but to gain it you have to first see those putts go in on a regular basis. A solid practice plan will help you on your way to sinking everything. Confidence is bred from visual success but also encouragement from others.
Alison Lee is on fire on the course at the moment with her last 12 rounds averaging 65! That is insane. She’s got a mentor in Fred Couples who is in her ear constantly telling her she’s amazing and she is now believing it. When you have that energy from others the hole is like a magnet to your ball. You feel unbeatable.
Putting Average – LPGA Tour 2023
- Yeeeun Hong – 33* – 28.12
- Danielle Kang – 71 – 28.74
- Minami Katsu – 74 – 28.92
- Lydia Ko – 71 – 28.92
- Pavarisa Yoktuan – 64 – 29.00
- Jeongeun Lee6 – 73 – 29.07
- Manon de Roey – 31 – 29.10
- Dottie Ardina – 42 – 29.11
- Xiyu Lin – 79 – 29.16
- Ana Belac – 27 – 29.22
*Total rounds played