Lee Trevino has a clever setup trick for making all short putts
Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.
Sweating over a short putt is never fun.
When the ball cozies up just outside gimme range, you start to feel it — weak knees, shaky hands, racing heart. You pray that your playing partners will give you the putt, but when they fail to concede it, the nerves only worsen. Once you realize you’re actually going to have to putt it, a feeling of impending doom sets in.
If this sounds like you, first off, I’m sorry. Struggling with the flatstick is never fun, and having trouble coaxing the ball into the hole from short range is even worse. The shame and embarrassment of missing a three-footer is unmatched.
But all hope is not lost! If the hole looks like a thimble from short range, chances are you just have a hiccup in your technique. And if you tweak it just a bit, you’ll be able to pour in the short ones with ease — all you need to do is take the advice of an all-time great.
“Short putts — we’re all guilty of missing them,” Lee Trevino says in a “2-Minute Golf Lesson” published on VHS Golf Lesson Gems‘ YouTube page. “There’s a reason why you miss short putts. One could be lack of concentration. Two, you’re probably waiting for your buddies to say, ‘That’s good! Pick it up.’ Chances are, they’re never gonna say that.”
The reason short putts are missed, Trevino says, is that golfers use the same technique on short putts as they would on long ones. They take the putter just as far back as they follow through, and usually it’s too far on either side.
“Subconsciously your mind is telling your hands, ‘Hey, I’m too far back. I’m gonna have to slow down when I hit this ball,'” Trevino says. “The results? Deceleration.”
To combat against taking a long backswing and follow through on the short ones, change your setup just a touch. Move the ball back to the center of your stance instead of the front. From here, you’ll have to make a shorter backswing and follow through when you hit the putt.
“Put the ball back in your stance a little bit,” Trevino says. “Shorter backswing, shorter follow through, and you’ll probably make all those shorter putts around the cup.”