Golf

A tennis ball reveals *a lot* about your putting stroke. (Seriously!)

The perfect instant Valentine’s day gift:
Using a tennis ball can dial in your putting strokes. Here’s how.
Image via Joe Hallett
Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a GOLF.com series in which we’re sharing improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they faced along the way.
Apologies if I sound like a broken record here, but when it comes to putting, it can be the great equalizer in the game of golf.
While hitting fairways off the tee is important and can contribute to shooting low, if your putting stroke is inconsistent — and you’re racking up two- and three-putts (or worse) — your scorecard is going to look really ugly.
This is something I’ve really struggled with in my early-season golf rounds (playing nine holes each time), as I’ve missed just two fairways in my first two rounds of the year. My total putts during that time, though? A whopping 38!
For those who aren’t great at math, that’s 2.11 putts per hole — not all that good, I know.
So despite some mishits with irons and wedges, if I just cleaned up my putting stroke, I’d easily improve from the bogey-golfer status I’ve been stuck in for the past 1.5 years.
There are tons of putting drills to help dial in your stroke and distance control with the flat stick, but one of the more interesting ones comes from GOLF Top 100 Teacher Joe Hallett — who suggests using a tennis ball to practice on the putting surface.
Take a look below at why Hallett believes that a tennis ball can be the secret code toward unlocking your optimal putting stroke!
On a personal level, Hallett is one of my favorite golf teachers. We have spent some time together going through concepts and tips in order to make putting practice both fun and more effective.
But when he suggested using a tennis ball to help with the putting stroke, I admittedly had some questions.
Naturally, he whipped up some solid instructional tips to explain why the idea isn’t as crazy as one might think.
“People hate 3-foot putts,” Hallett tells me. “So I suggest grabbing a tennis ball and trying to hit a half-dozen shots from this distance to see how you perform. I bet it’s harder than you think.”
Now, of course, hitting a tennis ball is way different than hitting a golf ball. So Hallett explains the importance of having the perfect putting stroke in order to see one drop into the cup.
“If your stroke is too jabby, the tennis ball won’t roll; it will bounce,” he tells me. “If you don’t have good speed, the ball will roll over the cup. And if you don’t have a good line, the ball won’t drop in.”
After hitting six shots, Hallett says to close your eyes and have a friend replace the tennis ball with a golf ball on your seventh practice putt.
According to Hallett, many of his students who do this are amazed with how easier putting feels, helping build their confidence on the greens.
“The golf ball often looks like the size of a pea,” Hallett adds. “So a player can hook it, fade it, or feel like they mishit it and it could still go in; which is a huge confidence-builder for every level of golfer.”
Most amateur players ignore the importance of putting practice, often saying it’s too boring. But by trying Hallett’s suggestion to use a tennis ball, not only will you make it more fun, but it will also help you gain belief in yourself and your putting stroke. So give it a try next time you’re out on the practice green!

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