Gaining confidence on the greens is one of the fastest ways to become a better golfer quickly.
It’s much easier and faster to overhaul or upgrade your putting than it is your full swing. With putting, you don’t have to wait months for your swing changes to finally pay off. This is why I think it’s vital for players to hone their short game sooner rather than later.
Putting is all about confidence.
Just look at some of the best players ever and you can tell they don’t have much in common with putting. They all have different posture, grips, strokes, and types of putters.
But one thing a lot have in common is a forward press in their putting routine. Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth are two great examples who use this motion as a trigger to start their putting stroke.
Chances are, you’ve asked yourself if you should do the same. Today, we’ll break down the benefits, how to forward press correctly, and what to avoid to start rolling the rock better.
Before diving in, make sure to check out the putting tutorial to learn the basic skills on how to putt here.
Forward Press Your Putter Head
First off, what is forward press in putting anyway?
Forward press is when you move the handle slightly ahead to start your putting stroke for a true roll. This motion also acts as a trigger to start your putting stroke and keep your hands moving toward the target line with good tempo.
When done correctly, it can have a big impact on your rhythm and speed control. Instructor Dave Stockton and even players like Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy agree this can help the vast majority of golfers.
In a Golf Digest interview, Phil Mickelson also discussed why he likes to press the putter forward. “By nudging your hands toward the target a couple of inches before starting your takeaway, you’ll find it easier to return at impact with your hands ahead of the ball — a real key to maintaining the ideal amount of clubface loft and making the ball roll smoothly.”
But there’s a catch… when you forward press the putter head, you also remove some loft.
If you forward press too much with the putter shaft, it can have a negative effect as your putter won’t have enough loft. A little bit of forward press is good but more doesn’t equal better.
Let’s explain each of these concepts further.
Acts as a Trigger
The first benefit to a forward press is that it gives you a subtle trigger to start your putting motion. Some golfers freeze on the green and stand over putts for what feels like an eternity. This is not helping your putting or golf game!
I’ve found the less time you stand over the ball (especially on the greens), the better. Too much time over the golf ball leads to extra swing thoughts and time for doubt to creep in.
With a forward press, you can speed up your routine and not let negative thoughts affect your putting. Many players notice a huge improvement for this reason alone!
Eliminate Wrist Movement
Another benefit of adding a forward press motion is that it helps you eliminate excess wrist movement. With putting, you want very little wrist movement and instead want to move your arms/shoulders together as one unit. You don’t want “flippy” wrists as it will make speed control nearly impossible.
Golfers with too much wrist movement tend to add loft to the putter and hit up on the ball at impact. Specifically, a lot of average golfers struggle with the correct wrist angle in their lead hand. This leads to a ball with inconsistent spin and can bounce after impact and get it off-line or end up short of the hole.
To minimize the ball skidding or bouncing on the greens, a forward motion can help create a smoother role. Since this motion delofts the putter, it can help you improve your impact position without adjusting your stroke.
Downside = Delofting the Putter
While there are a lot of benefits to forward press, it’s important to remember that it does remove loft from your putter. Most putters have 3-5 degrees of loft and the more you forward press, the more you remove loft.
According to Phil Mickelson in this YouTube video, “At impact, we want to have four degrees of loft (give or take a half degree for an optimal roll. What is the optimum roll? An optimum role is when the ball starts off with the equator and starts turning over.”
If you have less than four degrees of loft you will drive the ball into the ground with your forward stroke. This will cause the golf ball to bounce and not roll smoothly on the green, making it nearly impossible to hole longer putts.
Additionally, if you have more than four degrees of loft, the ball will jump off the face and come off the ground. It will also have backspin before it starts to roll on the green.
The key is to learn how much to press the putter head for better contact with every roll.
How to Forward Press
As you can tell, there are a lot of benefits to a forward press motion in the putting stroke. But the key is to make sure that you don’t over do it and remove too much loft in the process.
Check Putter Static Loft
The first thing to do is to check your putter loft as each club can vary. Check online or have a clubfitter evaluate your putter loft. This is even more important if you bought the club used and aren’t sure on the specifications.
For example, if you have a putter with only two or three degrees of loft, a forward press motion can actually hurt your performance. Get your putter checked to determine if you should forward press or possibly adjust your loft to account for a forward motion.
Putting Ball Position
The second thing to consider is ball position in your putting stance.
In the same YouTube video from above, Phil Mickelson discusses how different ball positions can impact your putting. He prefers to play the ball off his front foot to hit slightly up on the ball.
While it’s generally recommended to have the ball in the front-center of your stance, there are more ways to putt well. According to Phil, you just need to adjust your hand position to ensure you have the proper loft at impact.
If you like to play the ball back in your stance you need more loft on putter to begin with. Or, you want to putt with your hands back (this is the opposite of a forward press).
If you like to play the ball ahead of your front foot, you need less loft or get your hands forward at address.
Start Forward Pressing
If your putter and ball position match up for a forward press, give it a try. Remember, less is more when it comes to a forward motion and don’t overdo it (or you can have negative loft).
Test it out from address position on the practice green to see how it affects your roll. Chances are you will love how much confidence it gives you with every type of putt.
FAQs About Putting
Do you have more questions about becoming a better putter? If so, keep reading to learn the best putting strategies below.
Does forward press putting open the putter face?
A forward press can open the face if you don’t press it directly ahead of you toward the start line. If you don’t have enough grip pressure with your right hand (for right-handed golfers), it can open the face.
What does a forward press do in golf?
A forward press slightly delofts the putter and gives you a mental trigger to begin your putting stroke. It works with any kind of grip (the claw grip, conventional, cross-handed, prayer putting grip, etc.) and is used by some of the top players in the world.
Should you press your hands forward when putting? Is a forward press in golf good?
I think a lot of golfers can benefit from a forward press. While not every professional golfer uses this strategy, a lot of them do and can help you for a variety of reasons that are listed above.
What is a forward press?
A forward press is a simple motion to start your putting stroke. It doesn’t require any training aids or golf gadgets to get started. Simply press the grip of your putter forward to slightly deloft your putter and begin your putting stroke.
How do I grip a putter?
There are a ton of ways to grip a putter including conventional, left-hand low (cross handed), the claw, and more. To learn more about each style and find out which one will help you putt the best check out putting grip encyclopedia.
Regardless of which grip style you use, make sure your grip pressure is consistent. Hand pressure on the grip is arguably more important than the grip itself and many golfers have the tendency to change it.
As Greg Norman said, “Most players – even most Tour pros – loosen their grip on the club after their practice stroke, then regrip as they settle in for the actual stroke. I think that’s a bad idea. From the time I take my practice stroke to the time I hit the ball, my hands do not budge on the club.”
How does Jordan Spieth practice putting?
Jordan Spieth is one of the best putters of his generation. He has an uncanny ability to make putts when he needs them most – specifically from mid-range when the odds are against him.
So, how does Jordan work on his putting?
Here’s what his coach Cameron McCormick said on his website, “I have Jordan find two holes that are a good distance apart, maybe 40 feet. He places a club or stick 3 feet past the back edge of both holes. This is the safety zone that all putts must finish in (if they don’t go in the hole). He starts the drill by putting 10 feet from one hole, which means he has a 30-foot putt to the second hole in this example.”
From here, Jordan putts three balls to the 10-foot hole and if they’re in the “safety zone” he continues to the 30-foot hole. Once complete, he continues to move his starting point three feet closer to the hole so the next putt is 27 feet. He continues this process until he reaches the original 10-foot putt.
What is the best distance to practice putting?
This is one of the best questions you can ask yourself! Most golfers should practice 3-5 footers and 30 footers more than any other distance. Here’s why…
Short putts matter the most.
If you can make 90% of your putts (or more) inside five feet, you will become a consistent player. This will give you confidence that if you miss the green, you can chip it close and know that you will make the putt quite often.
As Dr. Bob Rotella said in Putting Out of Your Mind, “If you’re solid from, say, two to five feet, it makes it so much easier to make your longer putts. You can stroke them more confidently when you know that if by some misfortune you do miss, you’re a cinch to sink the next one.”
The other distance you should focus on is 30 feet. Why 30 feet you might ask?
Because this is the average distance you will have to the hole when you do hit the green in regulation. The key is to make sure you don’t three-putt from this length very often.
While you should try to make every putt, the chances of making these are quite small. So make it a goal to hit it close and if it doesn’t drop, you have a tap in.
The worst length putts to practice are 15-30 feet because even for the best players in the world, these aren’t high percentage putts. Don’t waste your time on this length as even professionals won’t make more than 10% of them in any given round.
Should I look at the hole when putting?
Looking at the hole instead of the golf ball while putting is a risky move but some players prefer this method. While other golfers are terrified they might miss the golf ball entirely.
Jordan Speith is common for using this technique and looking at the hole vs. the golf ball. Personally, I like to do this while warming up on the putting green to learn the speed.
By focusing on the hole, I try to putt with my eyes. But I can’t say I’ve ever used the “no-look” technique in a tournament.
The biggest risk of course is not hitting the ball but this style also makes it easy to hit up on the putt. It’s easy to “top” a putt as you hit the top half of the ball. This will tend to leave putts short and not give them a chance of dropping.
Like any style of putting, there is no one size fits all approach. Test it out on your indoor putting green or at the golf course to see if it helps you gain confidence on the greens.
Final Thoughts on Forward Press in Putting
The forward press is one of the best golf tips that can help you make a consistent putting stroke. Not only can it help with rolling putts better, it can help from a mental aspect too. It’s a good strategy to help you hit the putt faster and not waste time standing over the golf ball.
The key to a forward press is to make sure you don’t do it too much as it can remove too much loft. This can lead to other putting issues so just remember, less is more with this simple motion.
Instead, try to move the putter shaft slightly ahead to get the stroke started. You should roll it better than ever and hopefully have fewer putts per round. As always, test it out on an indoor green or at the golf course before using it during a round.
Want more help with putting? Make sure to check out two other articles below: