The Chalk Line Putting Drill

Published 11/11/2013 07:22:00

This week's hot tip is provided by Texan Pro David Ogrin.Ogrin is a former Texas A&M star and served as the design consultant for the High Meadow Ranch Golf Club course in Magnolia, northwest of Houston. He spent the 2002 season playing on the Canadian and tours in preparation for a run at the PGA Tour¹s 2002 qualifying school, and believes putting is the area most overlooked by amateur players.


It¹s how you finish not how you start. There is plenty of material on how to drive the ball and hit irons, and it¹s kind of funny because the best of that stuff basically boils down to with the driver, grip it and rip it -- honestly -- and with the irons you¹re wasting your time if you don¹t get a fitted set.

Putting is something that concerns all people because very good ballstrikers of all ages get to the putting green then fail. Because of that failure they don¹t get the enjoyment out of the game they want.

Over the years I¹ve done things on tour that have kept me sharp (with putting). The one I want to share with the readers is simply the most effective training aid I¹ve ever had -- the chalk line. Use a good, old-fashioned carpenter¹s chalk line, which you can get at any hardware store.

Like any other shot in the bag, good mechanics is important to be able to make putts of all kinds. You have to have good, basic mechanics to make straight putts, left-to-right putts, right-to-left putts, uphill, downhill putts.

If people always are wondering how to work on their mechanics, or how to know if they have good mechanics -- and I think working on mechanics is one thing, knowing good mechanics is another -- and when you get to the knowing part, that is when you start playing golf. Unfortunately, most teachers never let students get to the part of knowing.

I learned the chalk line when I was an amateur from another amateur, Mike Milligan, who played at the University of Houston during the glory days. He was the first guy I saw use the chalk line, and the chalk line is a very simple way to see and use to see if your putter is going in a simple motion of straight back and straight through and square.

There are steps I use in using the chalk line. First of all, in order to really practice your putting stroke, the only putt you can putt is the straight putt. The reason for that is a straight putt, if you make a straight back and straight through motion squarely, it¹s going in. If you practice breaking putts, either with full attention or haphazardly, what¹s going to happen is your brain is smart enough to push or pull the putt enough to make the putt. You can¹t help it, your brain is going to do that, so you¹re not practicing your stroke. You¹re not doing what you want to, thinking your stroke is better.

What I do is practice straight-in putts, and in order to make breaking putts, I practice reading breaking putts. Reading the breaking putts is much more important than any stroke you putt on the breaking putts. Keeping the stroke the same is important, because all breaking putts can be broken down into increments of initial starting line, which is 3-4 feet long.


chalk line putting drill I'm going to set up a chalk line and practice 4-foot, straight-in putts, and use 4-foot putts as the basis for all the other putts I¹m going to hit on the green. I look around the hole and find what I consider to be the straight-in putt. What I do is mark it with the toe of my putter, take the chalk line and draw a line on the green to the hole. Four feet is basically the length of the putter, plus a grip.

Now I¹ll hit many putts from 4 feet, and check and see if my stroke is going straight back and straight through along the line. It will be easy to see if you¹re pulling or pushing the putt. Even better is if your putter has a line you match the lines. Real simply, by matching all the lines and allowing your putter to swing along the lines, you find easily whether or not you¹re allowing the putter to go back and through and square.

It¹s not absolutely essential for all putters to do that. But this is a great way to check your stroke. If you¹re a swinging gate putter, this is a way to make sure you¹re swinging the gate. If you¹re a cut putter or Billy Mayfair putter, you can check it to. Nonetheless, the simplest for most players is straight back and straight through. It¹s the simplest stroke whether it¹s pendulum or wrist stroke. You can do a wrist stroke straight back and straight through, right handed or left handed straight back and straight through, long handle, short handle.

This is the simplest method I¹ve ever found to practice your putting stroke. You get immediate feedback from the drill on how you¹re doing. Straight back, straight through, it¹s as simple as it gets.

Stroke, rhythm, confidence, touch; all of them stem from believing that your putter is moving in an appropriate manner. The chalk line drill is strictly designed for you to watch the putter, see that it's going in an appropriate manner, and from there get creative to do all the things you need to do to make good putts.

There are only two things that are ever relevant in putting -- distance and direction. This is why I practice only straight-in putts. I¹ve taken the distance factor out of it. Reading is experience. I can¹t give you a formula for reading, you just have to do it.

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