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One-Handed Putting

One-Handed Putting is a popular putting drill.


To improve your putting you will need to practise. Practising your putting stroke with one hand gives you an idea which hand controls your stroke the best.

Left or Right?

If you had to putt with only one hand, which hand would you choose? This is not a trick question, but one that goes to the heart of your putting stroke.

Tom Watson in his book Getting Up and Down had this to say. "I take the putter back with the left hand and guide it through the ball with the left hand in my stroke, even though I feel I'm hitting with my right hand."

Swinger or Hitter?

As an introduction let us look at the full swing where there are two basic swing styles – swinging and hitting. You have a choice. You can either choose to become a swinger (using your left arm as the power source) or a hitter (using your dominant right hand as the primary power source) (ref.perfectgolfswingreview.net).

As a golfer you have to decide which side of your body will control your game. Are you a swinger or a hitter? My preference for the control of my swing/stroke is my left arm and hand. In putting, I follow the recommendation of Dave Stockton who stresses the left hand over the right. But this is not everyone's choice.

Dominant Hand

Frank Thomas in one of his Putting Tips explains how your hands compete for dominance and that you should mediate this conflict by giving the responsibility to the hand that you believe is the best leader.

I have covered this concept in earlier ezines articles on:

  • Left Hand – Why You Should Set It on the Putter First
  • Right Hand – Master, Servant, or Equal Partner in the Putting Stroke?

See links in right-hand column.

So how do you determine your controlling hand? If you are right-handed, your dominant hand, and dominant eye for that matter, will most likely be your right. This does not mean that you should automatically hand over control in your putting stroke to your right hand.

You have to experiment to see which hand handles the task of holing putts more successfully than the other. This is where the one-handed putting drill is useful.

Tiger Woods wants his dominant right hand to run the show, so he frequently practices with only that hand on the putter. Right or Left - practicing with just one hand is a great way to unlock the feel and flow of a pure putting stroke.

So here is what to do:

One-Handed Putting Drill

  • Choose a two-foot putt on a level putting surface.
  • Place your left hand behind your back and putt 10 balls with your right hand. Keep track of the results.
  • Reverse the process and make 10 more putts with your left hand. Again keep track of the results.
  • Move back to five feet and repeat the exercise.
  • Finally, move back to 10 feet and repeat the exercise.
  • Compare the results to establish which hand performed best.

When you have completed the one-handed putting drill, you should have an idea which is your control hand and which is in a supporting role.

To be sure ask yourself the question "Am I more successful stroking through the ball (left hand), or hitting it (right hand)?"

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Image Source
1 = Getting Up and Down by Tom Watson / Illustration by Anthony Ravielli
2 = Precision Putting by James A. Frank / Photo by Sam Greenwood

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Related Topics

left hand

right hand