The 4-Step Putting Routine

Far easy steps to drain more putts

If you don’t
prepare correctly, odds are, no matter how good you read the greens or how fluid your stroke may be, you may still find yourself missing putts. The secret to becoming a better putter? Sequencing your preshot putting routine correctly.

Step 1: First, and quite obviously, you need to survey the line of your putt. This means evaluating things like grain, slope, elevation changes. Once you survey your path, the second thing you need to do is take advantage of one of the best cheats in golf (it’s not a real cheat, but it feels
like one).

Step 2: With a golf ball either marked with a line or using the line made up by the writing on the side, use that line to identify exactly where you want to aim your putt. This is such a handy way to make putting easier, and not enough of my students do it! Get in the habit of marking your ball and lining up that mark to direct your aim. It frees you up for Step 3.

Step 3: Once you have your ball marked and lined up, forget the line! Now’s the time to hone in on your feel and distance control. Stand beside the ball and make a few practice strokes while looking at the hole and develop a stroke speed and length that you feel will nestle the ball at the bottom of the cup. Trust the line on your ball, and think, Feel, feel, feel.

Step 4: Now it’s time to putt! You know the line, you have the feel; now it’s time to bring those two elements together over the ball and make a confident stroke. If you stick with this four-step putting routine (survey, line, feel, putt), I bet you’ll not only start making more putts, but also develop a newfound confidence you never knew you had. Good luck!


To fully gauge the slope of a putt, make sure you see the slope from all sides. This means, take a walk around the putt. Then, settle in behind the ball and pick your aiming spot along the line of the putt.

The marking on a golf ball, whether using the ball’s graphics or a line with a pen, is a gift from the golfing gods. Use it as often as you can to line up your putts.

Now that you have the ball aimed with the line on the ball, you can think solely about speed and distance. Rehearse a couple strokes while looking at the target, since this will help you get a better feel for the proper stroke length.

You have the direction figured out, and you know the right stroke length. Now’s the time to be confident in your preputt routine! Often golfers miss putts because they aren’t confident, which then leads to shaky, yippy strokes. Always trust your stroke and your routine!

Tom Leese, PGA, teaches in the Las Vegas area. To get more information, visit

6 thoughts on “The 4-Step Putting Routine

  1. During the “survey” step, does one establish some type of aiming point between the ball and the hole? If so, are there any tips for that? For example, do you pick a spot close to the hole, ball, something else?

    It is this portion of the 4 steps with which I need help.


  2. I’d like a little more detail on steps 1 & 3. Exactly how do you survey your line? I’ve heard look at it from behind & from the side about halfway to the hold on the downhill side. Any other tips? As for step 3, this is what I struggle with more than anything – speed. I would really like to see a more structured, detailed way of getting speed gauged. What should I do on the practice green prior to the round that would help?

  3. @Chris… I’n no pro, but what I’ve done on the practice green to guage speed is to putt 5 balls from the center of the green to the fringe in EACH direction. This helps me determine how the ball acts in each direction. Usually i can divide the green into two halves to help with distnace guaging for my putting. Hope this helps!

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