Putting: the Soul of Golf…Bobby Locke…Barney Beard Golf


Putting is the Soul of Golf

Putting can be divided into four different areas

Putts less than 4 feet.

Putts less than 20 feet.

Putts longer than 20 feet.

Putting from off the green.


Some golfers are born with an ability to putt. They’re able to make short putts, lag longer putts up beside the hole and almost always avoid the dreaded 3-putt. If you’re this kind of natural putter, stop reading. Whatever it is you have that enables you to send the ball where you want to with your putter, is wonderful. I don’t want to mess with your innate skill. I don’t want to upset your nicely arranged God-given apple cart.

However, if you’re not a natural putter, read on. If you’re the kind of person who likes to read and do a little research, do yourself a favor and learn a little bit about Bobby Locke and his approach to putting and you might also find my little offering here useful. I hope so.

  1. Learn to Read Greens. Sometimes the slope on a green is dramatic and easily seen. Other times the slope on a green is subtle and near impossible to detect. Therefore, learning to ‘read’ the green is critical if you want to be a good putter. Here’s an excellent way to learn to ‘read’ greens. Take four balls to the practice green. Slowly roll a ball underhanded with just enough force to make it travel twenty or thirty feet. Roll it much like you would roll a bowling ball. Watch the golf ball slowly roll across the green’s surface. Watch what happens to the golf ball as it rolls. Observe how it travels along the slopes and contours of the green. Roll a second ball slowly. Observe. Learn. Roll and observe a golf ball on the same path ten times. Learn. Do this manually first. Don’t use your putter. You don’t want to teach yourself the bad habit of jerking your head up the moment you strike the ball in order to observe the ball. After you have rolled about ten balls manually and learned, then try your putter. Observe. Feel. Learn.
  2. All Putts are Straight. The golfer can only start a putted ball in a straight line. Gravity, slope of the green, speed, momentum, grain of the grass and friction will determine the path the putt will travel and precisely where the putted ball will stop. A golfer learns from experience what will cause a ball to curve as it rolls on an unlevel surface. Experience will teach a golfer how hard to strike a ball to make it travel a given distance uphill or downhill.  In any case, once the golfer has determined what the putt will do once it is rolling towards its target, the golfer will decide precisely what line to start the putt. The golfer can only strike the ball on a single, straight, given line. It is critical the golfer sees in the mind the first twelve inches of the putt and imagines those first inches his putted ball will travel to be a straight line, a straight line, a straight line. You get the picture. If you strike the ball with your putter while imagining curved lines, you’re imagining something you can never accomplish. After you have ‘read’ the green, determine the initial line and as you are standing over the putt you’re imagining a straight line directly in front of your ball leading away from your ball. Once you’re ready to putt, never imagine a long curved line.
  3. Spot Putting. You know how to set up to putt. You know how to read the greens. All you have to do now is start the ball on the line that will take it to the hole. How do you do that? Be a spot putter. See a spot on the surface of the green about twelve inches in front of your ball. It is a spot directly on the line you want to start the putted ball. It is the spot you want the ball to roll directly over. No matter how long the putt, no matter how drastically the ball will curve later, you must see those first twelve inches of the ball’s path and imagine a perfectly straight putt coming off your putter. You must roll the ball over a near target, a spot, twelve inches or so in front of your ball. The spot you choose will be some imperfection in the surface of the green, a spike mark, a discoloration or such like. Remember: All putts begin as a straight line. That’s paramount.
  4. Hear the Ball Fall into the Cup. This is difficult for most people. We want to see. We want to follow the path of the ball to the cup with our eyes. We want to watch the ball fall. We want to see. The problem with watching our putt is we tend to look too quickly. We tend to move our bodies before the ball has left our putter face. Try this on the practice green: take four balls and find a flat putt of about 4 feet. Putt the four balls and listen. Don’t look up until you hear the ball fall into the hole or you’re sure the ball has stopped rolling. Do this and learn. I guarantee if you do this you’ll learn a great deal about striking a golf ball with a putter and you’ll improve your putting.

Play Often, Have Fun, Respect the Game,

Barney Beard

ps. I’ve been collecting useful golf instructional books for sale to my students or anyone. I keep them in my truck. If you are interested in any of the following titles come by the range and purchase any  for $2.00. All books are used and in good to excellent condition. Some appear to have never been read.  Here’s the list: Golf Begins at 50 by: Gary Player, Augusta National & The Masters: A Photographers Scrapbook, David Ledbetter’s Positive Practice, Dave Peltz Short Game Bible, Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by: Bob Rotella, Little Red Book by: Harvey Penick, From the Fairway by: Michael Hobbs, Trouble Shooting by: Michael Hobbs, For All Who Love the Game by: Harvey Penick, And if You Play Golf You’re My Friend by: Harvey Penick, Are you Kidding Me? Rocco Mediate,

ps. Click Here to order my book: Golf for Beginners: How Not to be Embarrassed on the First Tee. My Momma would be proud of me. My book, Golf for Beginners won two awards, the silver from FAPA  and the Elit bronze.

pps. Click Here to order my book: Golf for Beginners: Left Hand Version.

ppps. I also have a blog about stories and letters for my grandchildren. Click Here.

Copyright 2020 Barney Beard Golf. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

Well, I’ve finally done it. My historical novel about the Cherokee deportation, A White Killing Frost, is on the shelf ready for you to check out in the Lady Lake Library and the Sumter County Library in Wildwood. It’s also available in almost every public library system in both Georgia and Florida. How good is that? Also, you can buy it directly from me off my tailgate for a discount price and you won’t have to pay shipping. I suppose I am a late bloomer, as my mom suggested long ago. How good is that? The book is also available on Amazon both digitally and hard copy. The digital book is only $2.99.Click Here.




  1. You want a stable-table. Your lower body must be firmly attached to the ground. To achieve this, put 95% of your weight on your heels. This will anchor your lower body to the ground
  2. Bend your knees.
  3. Stand close to ball…the closer the better.
  4. Try to have your EYE over the top of the ball.
  5. You want a steady head. During the putting stroke the head should not move left or right or up and down.
  6. The wrists should hardly move during the stroke.
  7. The stroke should be made by gently rocking the shoulders.
  8. The backswing should be short…as short as you can make it without stabbing at the ball.



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