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Precision Putting: Palm-to-Palm and Target Focus

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Putting accounts for 50-60% of strokes in a round of golf, yet it so often takes a back seat to the long game when it comes to practice time. Working on proper grip, alignment, and technique are critical for consistency and results on the course. In “Club Focused Golf Instruction,” Ed LeBeau writes that “a putter face misaligned by 1 degree will result in the ball missing the hole on a 13 foor putt.”

In this post we will be looking at the putting grip, specifically the fundamentals set forth in Club Focused Golf instruction (CFI), for creating a consistent grip that leads to square contact and a repeatable stroke. We’ll do an introduction to CFI (or a refresher if you frequent this site), review the grip fundamentals, and review our favorite putter grip, the JumboMax Palmbird, which aligns perfectly with this method.

Additionally, we’ll review two drills that help reinforce proper grip, recommend some training aids that have added value to our practice routines, explore some further reading, and share some instructional videos so you can get these funamentals and more, from the horse’s mouth.

target line putt

About CFI

Club Focused Golf Instruction (CFI) has been around for nearly 100 years as an alternative to the more common body focused approach. This method focuses on the golf club instead of body mechanics. Research has shown that club focused instruction allows players to learn faster and play better.

The manual “Club-Focused Golf Instruction” brings together the work of World Golf Hall of Fame instructors Ernest Jones and Manuel de la Torre along with 20 years of experience from Heartland Golf Schools to provide a guide to this superior approach. Manuel de la Torre focused on 3 swing tenants – the ball is struck by the center of the clubface, the clubface is square to the direction of the target line at impact, and the club is swung at the direction of the target.

When expanding this to putting, the principles are just as clear. Focus on the target (as an extension of the line) and the putter, while letting your body do the rest of the work. We posted about Instinct Putting, which is moving focus completelly to the target, and believe this to be very close in approach. Don’t be afraid to expiriment to find out what works best for you.

CFI - Target

CFI Putting Fundamentals

Though many teach a straight back and through motion, the natural arc of the putter head should be allowed for a true swinging motion. This facilitates solid contact and better directional control. Above all, the feel should be that of rolling the ball smoothly rather than striking the ball forcefully. Manuel De La Torre advocates making a smooth, pendulum motion with the arms rather than wristy strokes to enhance reliability.

The club and target focused approach to the golf swing emphasizes proper grip and setup with the club rather than positions of the body. The grip taught to compliment the “natural” movements of the body is very neutral, with palms facing each other, as if praying. A benefit of the palm to palm grip is it automatically positions the hands and clubface square at address leading to more consistent impact. It also encourages a swinging motion from the shoulders rather than manipulation with the hands and wrists.

While putting grips tend to be more personal that their full swing counterparts, the fundamentals themselves translate, no matter how you approach the grip. There are only two grip fundamentals in CFI – thumbs down the shaft on the flat surface of the putter grip and plams facing each other. This helps in promoting a square face, pendulum stroke, and reduces hand action. As in the long game, LeBeau recommends ten fingers on the club, which creates a more natural grip and reduced grip pressure. However this would be more of a recommendation than a hard and fast rule. Personally, I am using a left-hand-low or “crosshanded” grip, while still complying with the fundamentals of thumb and palm posiiton.

CFI putting grip

JumboMax Palmbird Pistol Grip

The JumboMax Palmbird grip goes hand in hand with this philosophy and can really help to take your putting to the next level. The Palmbird is a revolutionary grip designed to automatically place your hands in the correct, natural palm-to-palm position, leading to improved feel, accuracy and consistency.

The Palmbird works equally well with traditional, left-hand-low, or even claw putting styles. I have been left-hand-low for over 20 years and nothing else feels right to me. Despite that, focusing on getting into a proper palm-to-palm position at setup has been a game changer for me, and upgrading the grips on the two putters in my rotation have taken it to another level.

  • Ultimate Face Control: New PalmBird™ ergonomic shaping automatically places your hands in an ideal position.
  • Works With Any Grip Style: It’s perfect for conventional, left-hand low, or claw grips.
  • Lightweight Design: Weighs just 63 grams
  • Fits The Fingers: Rounded section is formed to fit your fingers.
  • Twist-Resistant StabilityCore™: Offers playability in a variety of weather conditions.

Putting Drills

There are two drills that I recommend for ingraining the feel of the palm-to-palm grip, reducing the feeling of “hitting” through the ball, and focusing on the target line. The first one is from LeBeau’s book, the second is my own drill, though I have no desire to claim any originality, as it just borrows pieces of others.

LeBeau’s “Prayer” drill is simple and straightforward. You simply put your hands together in a prayer like position on the putter grip, leaving your fingers straight and pointing down at the ball. Simply make strokes in this manner, which will force you to apply an even amount of pressure to the grip/ shaft with each hand. This will effectively remove the “hit” from the stroke and encourage the proper pendulum motion as the body responds to the swinging of the club. I admit this was a tough one to get used to, but after a few attempts, I found myself rolling the ball well consistently. I now start my practice sessions with a few minutes of reps on this drill.

Prayer Putting Drill

“Target Line” Drill

Manuel de la Torre described a good putting stroke as “enabling the ball to roll along the intended line with enough speed to reach the end of that line.” This is the idea behind the “target line drill.” I use the Perfect Practice Putting Mat , soley because it has the target line already inscribed. The other tool that I use for this is the Pelz O-Balls. You can recreate this easily on any putting mat or green using a piece of string for the line and by drawing a line on the ball as you probably already do on the course.

The execution is simple and is just a variation of the ladder drill with some simple changes. Set the ball up on the target line, making sure to align the line on the ball with the target line. Grip the putter with the palm-to-palm, thumbs down the shaft grip and focus on the target line.

Understanding that the putting stroke is a swing and not “straight back, straight through,” my goal with this drill is to focus on the target and deliver the palms into the ball with the face square, following through straight down the target line. What you will find if executing this correctly is that as the ball rolls, the line on the ball will trace the target line all the way to the hole. Consider that a “make” and after each, you can move up (or back down) the ladder. I play from 7 feet, down to 1 foot and back. You can ramp up the challenge with a product like the “Devil Ball.”

target line drill 1

Puttlink Smart Ball

The PuttLink Smart Ball is a revolutionary putting training aid that connects wirelessly to your mobile device to provide real-time feedback and stats. It calculates true roll distance, green speed, entry pace, make percentage, and more to help you practice smarter, track progress, and lower your scores. With adjustable difficulty levels, multiple ball types, and fun competitions, the PuttLink Smart Ball makes putting practice engaging for golfers of all skill levels. This innovative smart ball takes the guesswork out of becoming a better putter.

The key benefits include:

  • Provides real-time putting stats and feedback
  • Calculates useful metrics like distance, green speed, make percentage
  • Adjustable difficulty and ball types for all skill levels
  • Makes practice more engaging and fun
  • Takes the guesswork out of improving as a putter

Our readers receive a 10% discount by using code PUTTSMART at checkout.

Perfect Putting Mat

Perfect Practice Putting Mats are high-quality mats designed to help golfers of all levels build skills and confidence through enhanced practice, featuring tour-proven technology and partnerships for an authentic training experience. Since 2019, their mission has been to provide proper tools that make perfecting your putting stroke convenient and achievable. Elite players such as Vijay Singh, Dustin Johnson, Lydia Ko, and Nick Faldo all use and endorse the product as a great way to lower your score.

These high-quality mats feature a smooth, consistent roll, built-in track lines for alignment, and an automatic ball return system for efficient practice. Available in three sizes, they cater to golfers of all skill levels and can be used indoors or outdoors on any flat surface. With their easy assembly and portability, Perfect Practice Putting Mats provide a convenient and effective way to work on putting technique and build confidence on the greens. They also offer a “collegiate edition,” with logo and color customization for over 20 major colleges so that you can rep your alma mater or favorite team.

The Stack System

In our post “Speed Training in Golf: The Stack System Unveiled,” we took you through the Stack System as a Speed Training Program. Another feature the program offers is Stack Putting, an app and analytics tool that provides detailed feedback on your stroke. It allows you to track putts from various distances and slopes, analyzing make percentage, face angle, and stroke path.  The app offers different games and challenges to make practice more engaging and compare your stats against tour averages. The Stack System aims to identify strengths, expose weaknesses, and provide insights to improve your putting through purposeful and measurable practice. With its excellent analytics, engaging training games, and ability to track detailed putting data, the Stack System is an innovative tool to help golfers take their putting to the next level.

Our readers receive a 10% discount by using code LEVELUP10 at checkout.

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Further Reading

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Club-Focused Golf Instruction
by Edward LeBeau

Summary: Club-focused golf instruction focuses on the golf club motion rather than body motion, an approach used by only 5% of instructors. This method, championed by Hall of Fame instructors Ernest Jones and Manuel de la Torre, allows faster learning and better play. LeBeau combines de la Torre’s expertise with educational principles into a powerful instruction manual bringing together decades of club-focused instruction experience. Scientific studies have verified club-focused instruction’s superiority for improving player performance over traditional body-focused methods.

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Understanding the Golf Swing
by Manuel de la Torre

Summary: Manuel de la Torre was a leading teacher of Ernest Jones’s swing principles, emphasizing a simpler approach focused on developing a true swinging motion rather than complex body movements. The book covers the philosophy of the golf swing, analysis of ball flights, techniques for special shots like pitching and chipping, the mental side of golf, and understanding golf courses. It argues that if the club is swung properly, the body movements will take care of themselves, so golfers should focus on the motion of the club rather than their bodies. The book blends golf philosophy and practical advice for golfers of all levels, from beginners to professionals.

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Instinct Putting
by Eric Alpenfels, Bob Christina, Cary Heath

Summary: Instinct Putting promotes a counterintuitive technique of looking at the hole rather than the ball while putting, based on scientific tests showing improved results. The book explains how focusing visual attention on the target taps into the brain’s innate ability to perform complex tasks through unconscious processing. With simple steps to retrain traditional putting methods, Instinct Putting aims to boost putting skill by emphasizing proper alignment and distance control. This unique guide provides golfers with an unconventional but effective approach to conquer the mental game of putting.

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Instinct Putting Revisited
by Eric Alpenfels, Bob Christina, Cary Heath

Summary: Instinct Putting is one of the most extraordinary golf instructional books to come along in my lifetime. In a radical break from conventional wisdom, it brings a whole new paradigm on the art and science of putting. — Carol Mann, LPGA Tour (1961-81), Member of the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame.A scientifically proven approach sure to cut strokes on the putting green by tapping the power of intuition.The Instinct Putting method relies on the brain’s built-in ability to perform incredible tasks through unconscious information processing, rather than through active thought. Through crystal clear instruction and gorgeous illustrations, the authors explain how to retrain your putting protocol with uncomplicated steps and easy-to-follow drills. From setup to follow-through, this book puts the keys to precision putting into your hands. A revolutionary new method that is based on cutting-edge research, Instinct Putting promises to end frustration on the green.

Videos

Ed LeBeau – CFI Putting
Putting Setup & Stroke
Manuel De La Torre – Putting
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