What Counts As A Putt In Golf?

by Steve | Last Updated: 8 March 2021

With all the rules in golf you might not know that any stroke on the green, even if it’s a chip with a wedge or an iron, counts as a putt!

But, any shot off the green doesn’t count as a putt, even if you you used your putter.

A stroke is only recognized as a putt when the ball is situated on the green and the shot is played. It is not based on the type of club used but based solely on where the ball is situated. It is also not affected by the previous shot played.

What Counts As A Putt?

Many golfers have been confused about whether a stroke is counted as a putt or not.

The rules state that a stroke is only recognised as a putt when the ball is situated on the green and played from that position.

Any shots played where the ball is off the green is not counted as a putt.

There are no rules that state a specific club should be used on the green.

If a player were to use a pitching wedge on the green, it would still count as a putt.  Most experienced golfers would always use a putter to play the shot. 

The rules are simply based on whether the ball is on the green or not. It does not differ based on the club, swing, the direction of the shot, or any other factor.

On the green or off the green is the basic principle of what determines a putt.

Why Some Golfers Get Confused

One of the usual scenarios under which golfers can get confused regarding the rules of putting is when a putting shot is played on the green, and the ball rolls off the green. 

Often a player still uses the putter to play the ball back onto the green until they finish the hole. 

Many players still count the shot played from off the green to correct the previous shot as a putt. But any shot played from off the green is not counted as a putt, even if the previous shot was a putt on the green. 

It is important to understand that, just because a shot, which is off the green, can be played with a putter does not constitute the stroke as a putt.

Simply put, if the ball is on the green before the shot is played, it counts as a putt.

Why Putting Is An Important Part Of The Game

It is estimated that 43% of a player’s total strokes are putts. Lowering this percentage will lower a player’s overall scores. It is recommended to spend around one-third of the time practicing golf, specifically on putting. 

PAR is the evaluation of shots required to complete the hole based on the distance to the hole and two putts. It is always two putts allocated per hole regardless of the par. 

For higher handicap players, it is estimated that half of the shots taken is putting.

This reveals the importance of putting in the game of golf.

If a player’s putting is not good, it will very quickly affect the overall score for the round.

Most professionals spend hours every day working on their short game, and every golfer’s short game begins with putting.

Practicing putting can be done at home or even at work in an office and does not have to happen at a driving range or golf course. 

Putting is a lot easier to practice and therefore has a quicker improvement rate than driving or other shots. 

The fact that being able to practice putting more often can speed up the time it takes to better a player’s putting aspect of the game makes it a strategic way to effectively improve in a shorter amount of time. 

There have been many examples of how good putting can save a round of golf when the long game is not going well.

How To Putt For Beginner’s

Golf is a game of precision and grace. and in comparison to other golf shots, the putt does not require much body movement from the hips or legs. Instead, the focus is to keep as still and steady as possible with smooth tempo of swing.

The focus is precision and the correct length of swing to determine the required amount of power to make the shot.

Although the power of a putt can be controlled bu any of the following three:

  • Length Of Swing
  • Speed of Swing
  • Tightness of Grip

The General idea of putting is to roll the ball along the green into the hole using a smooth and unhurried putting motion that generates both distance and direction control.

The Putting technique can be broken down into several areas:

  • Aim
  • Grip
  • Posture & Stance
  • Body Alignment
  • Ball Position
  • Swing

Aim – The putter-head is aimed towards the hole and when it is at a right angle to the target line the putter-head is said to be ’square to the target’

Grip – The Grip pressure should be light and even.

Posture & Stance – Standing upright with feet together and the arms out in front of the chest with the club shaft parallel to the ground, bend forward from the hip.  Your back should remain fairly straight , but not tight.

As the club head reaches the floor, allow your knees to flex slightly.  To create balance and comfort take a small step with each foot to the side.  The feet will be slightly narrower than shoulder width and your chin should be slightly raised from your chest.

Body Alignment – Your shoulders, hips, knees and feet should ideally be parallel to the target line.  This will encourage the correct shape of swing.

Ball Position – For a straight putt the ball should be placed in the middle of your stance.

Swing – The lower half of the body acts as a steady base.  Al the movement comes from the shoulders rocking the arms and putter back and forth.  The length of the swing should be roughly the same both back and forward.

The length of the swing together with a smooth repetitive speed should govern the distance the ball rolls.  The direction is mainly controlled by the position of the club face at impact, as well as the direction the club head is traveling in.

Putting is all about repetition of the correct techniques and by concentrating on each of these areas we will be able to achieve a consistent putting stroke which in turn will help us take less putts during a round.

How To Get Better At Putting

As with the golf swing, what suits one golfer may not suit another and it is largely down to you to work out what style is for you, learn and practise until you are satisfied with your level of competence.

Of course, like other aspects of golf, you must practise on a regular basis to achieve consistency.

I recommend that putting practise should consist of at least 30 minutes daily on whatever surface you happen to have close by.

Of course it’s great if you can practise on a putting green, but if you are at home or in the office maybe you only have access to other surfaces.

So why not practise on ‘virtual’ greens?

Carpet simulates slow greens whilst wooden and tiled flooring can double for quick surfaces.

Go with whatever you have – any practise is better than no practise when it comes to putting.

The lack of vision in golfers is predominantly responsible for putting being the least practised part of the game. And yet with the professionals it is the most practised because it’s the area of the game that goes wrong the most.

Various players and coaches have different ideas on how to practise.

I like to practise a routine where you set a dozen balls around the hole, started at 3 feet, then moved to 4 feet, then 5 feet, etc. so that no two putts were the same and this covers the most common distances you will putt from.

Many players make short putt after short putt just prior to going out to play as they like the sound of the ball hitting the bottom of the cup and the increased confidence it gives them.

Find out through trial and error what works for you and practise it.

Our powers of observation are crucial if we are to become great putters. You see the pros taking their time working out the line of the putt and trying to guage the weight required to put the ball into the hole.

It is proven that first impressions regarding line are correct 95% of the time.

If you can get that right, you only have to worry about the speed of the putt!

Many aids to help your putting exist today. You see golfers on practise greens with pegs, lines, big balls, small balls, and so on all looking form that ‘something’ that will give them a competitive advantage over their fellow golfers.

What is clear is that when the putts roll in, you see the hole as the size of a bucket and have the feeling that you just cannot miss. That is a normal state of mind for most pros – they believe they will make every putt they stand over.

In my opinion, the handicap golfer for whom everything must be as simple as possible, can try self-talk, self-motivation etc., etc.

But take a tip from me, find a style that’s right for you and practise regularly.

Rich’s programme ‘Putt For Dough‘ is a great programme to which you can refer whenever you believe you need some extra help.

Putting Etiquette

There are some unwritten rules of putting etiquette that you need to adhere to when putting. 

We’ll have a look at some of them here.

  • Order Of Play
  • Standing In Line
  • Repairing Pitch Marks
  • Speed Of Play

Putting Etiquette #1 – Order of play is always a good one. 

The golfer who’s ball is furthest from the hole is always the first to play.  Except for a few occasions.  When you have just played a long putt and you leave a tap in, it’s quite acceptable for you to putt out before your playing partners do.

Putting Etiquette sometimes allows for a player to ‘putt out of turn’ if their stance is going to interfere with the area the other players ball is in. 

For example, if you putt first you may be standing on their line.  This is a no-no as often you will leave spike marks or other indents in the surface of the green.

Putting Etiquette #2 

Standing in line, whether in front or behind, of your playing partners putt. 

This gives you an unfair advantage of seeing the putt and is also very distracting for the player making the putt. 

You will find as you improve your putting your levels of concentration will increase as well. 

It is an art in itself to ignore distractions while putting.

Putting Etiquette #3

Repairing pitch marks on the green. 

Often when you fly a ball into the green from a distance, the weight of the ball will leave a compression mark, known as a pitch mark on the surface of the green.

You are responsible for the repair of your pitch mark.  If you don’t repair the pitch mark, that part of the green will effectively die. 

There is a tool called a pitch repairer that you should carry when you play golf and some courses will insist that you carry one.  You can buy these from all pro shops and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices.  I have about thirty different ones and like most golfers I have a favourite.

A good practice to get into is to repair your own pitch mark and any others you see on the green while you are waiting to play or after you’ve putted. 

This will help to keep the greens in good order and will actually make life easier for you when you are putting. 

It’s so much easier to putt on a flat green without any bobbles caused by unfixed pitch marks.

Putting Etiquette #4

Speed of play is another consideration. 

Always be ready to play your next shot. 

Get yourself ready to play your own putt, you can be reading the line of your putt while others are playing their shots.

Slow play is a bit of a curse of modern golf and is something that you need to be aware of at all times and one of the main cause of this is golfers not being ready to  play their shots when it’s their turn to play.

Another cause of slow play when putting is not leaving your golf bag on the correct side of the green. 

When you are walking up to the green have a quick thought about where the next tee is and place you bag on the side of the green nearest the next hole. 

You can then make your putt, pick up your bag and walk straight to the next tee. 

This will avoid you delaying the players waiting to play their approach shots into the green you are on.

These are just a few examples of Putting Etiquette but they are not the only ones and over time we will put together some videos which make it much easier and probably more interesting to understand.

Conclusion

Although there is some confusion around what counts as a putt, the rules are simple and easy to follow once understood.

Putting is a vital aspect of the short game of golf and can serve as a game-saving aspect of the game when played well. 

It’s also worth remembering that what counts, or doesn’t count, as a putt is simply for statistical purposes. Every single shot you make is counted as a shot. The 300 yard drive, to the tap in one-inch putt, they all count the same…one shot.

If you want to lower your scores, reducing the number of putts you take is often the quickest route.

Putt For Dough Golf Coaching By Fore King Golf

Find It Hard To Learn A Golf Swing From Reading Text

It’s not an easy task to teach someone the golf swing in text format, as the coaching relies on our ability to use the right words, in the right way, at the right time.

It then relies on you reading, understanding and then implementing the words in the same way.

I’m sure you agree this is tricky and probably not the most effective way.

So we have made several video coaching programs that can ‘show’ you exactly what you need to do.

A great example of this is the Putt For Dough Course, with the core focus of the coaching is to help you build a classic and repeatable putting stroke, which is suitable for both right-handed golfers and left-handed golfers.

To find out more simply visit the coaching page and choose the area of the game that you want to work on.

Happy Golfing

Rich and Steve Signature Image
Steve King, the founder of Fore King Golf, started playing golf at the tender age of 29, after years spent playing many other sports and getting dodgy knees. Although late to the game, Steve soon fell in love with the sport and found himself, like many others, addicted to the pursuit of improvement and playing better. He is currently a member of The Kendleshire Golf Club & Hercules Golf Society, as well as running several competitions for Fore King Golf