With Ken Climo

As much as I enjoy throwing drives under the pin, putting is a big part of my success. I contribute 25% on my total game to putting. When I first started playing, I practiced 100 putts at the course every day before I even thought about playing. And there was a time when I was up to a couple hundred putts a day. There is no substitution for this type of repetition for muscle memory.

My Putting Philosophy:

Weight Shift with Little Spin
Putting is all about distance, timing and speed. If you can effectively master the distance and speed of your putts, your accuracy will increase with more putts dropping in. If you have total control over the speed and distance, the line is going to take care of itself.

I look at the disc as a big weight that I have to drop in the basket. I don’t think of it as a flying disc. The biggest thing I concentrate on is body weight transfer during the putting motion, not spin.

The weight must shift on line with the weight you’re propelling. Concentrate on getting a smooth transfer of weight on that line. If you pick the height correctly, you’re probably going to be in. If I’m putting well, I’ll be missing high or low. Everything should be straight. In calm conditions, the less spin in the disc the better. Why do you think so many discs that hit chains off the tee do not stay in? Too much spin. A bad putt for a right-hander that hits the left side of the chains has a better chance of dropping than the same putt with lots of spin. You really don’t want to snap the disc. You really just want to flick it. Don’t bend your wrist that much.

Starting low helps keep the spin to a minimum because I can focus on more weight transfer. I’ve made so many ugly putts that come in on the left side. They hit with almost no spin and drop.

Stance and Footing
People that stand with both legs in line with the basket are off balance. I could push you over with one finger. If I have a leg out to one side, like a karate stance, I’m stable. So make sure your back foot is off to the side. Before lining up, make sure you have secure footing. Kick out any debris that could make you slip.

Paint the Pole
I extend my arm two or three times out towards the target. I just want to get a feel for where my body and arm are before they're actually out there. Concentrate on your body shifting its weight backwards and forwards as your lining up. From here I try and “paint the pole” with my stroke. The disc is my paintbrush and I’m painting up and down the pole. I aim the left edge of the disc to hit the right side of the pole. When you hit with that spin it tends to shove the disc straight down into the basket.

Explode and Release
After your last line-up, drop back, transfer your weight and explode off that same paint-the-pole line. Release low and in front of you. The hand is moving up and to the right. Upon release in normal putting range, you should aim your thumb towards the pole and reach towards the pole. The disc will have a slight arc and the putt travels a little bit above the basket. This slight loft allows the disc to come down into the basket. Most of my body weight comes up to the ball of my right foot. This acts as a stopper. Then I push backwards quickly with my toes to prevent a falling putt.

Where to release the disc comes with experience. At 15 and 20 feet, you’re right on the pole. At 30 feet, you’re a little outside of the pole to allow the hyzer to come in. And at 60 to 70 feet, you’re throwing well right to allow the swooping angle to come in.

As with freethrows, head position is important in putting. I try and keep my chin at about the same level throughout the putt. This is how I keep my head in the same general area.

Benefits of the Hyzer Putt
Hyzer putts are inherently better for wide-open situations. The speed can be controlled more and the angle of dump makes the disc land close to the basket. A flat putt has a good chance of flying past. Anhyzer putts have a chance to flex out, gain glide and change angle, which is a variable. If you put hyzer on a putt, it can only go in one direction. You’re taking out the variable and achieving more consistency.

The advantages to the straight-line putt would be in situations where you need to go under low hanging branches, etc. It can also be advantageous over a loft putt into the wind. But, straight-line putts also have more of a tendency to hit the pole and bounce back. Since they’re flat, wind can get underneath and keep the disc aloft.

A hyzer putt takes some getting used to, especially learning when the disc is going to cut. Again, if you can control the speed and the distance, more putts are going to go in. You putt a disc too hard and it will come right back out at you or blow right through the chains.

When conditions are calm, the putter is nothing more than dead weight you have to drop in the basket. When the wind is up, you need to think about flight characteristics. And don’t go back home when it’s windy. Stay out there and tough it out. In general, when the wind is up, putt in a direct line with the basket. And be firm with your throw.

Here’s how various winds affect a right-handed player. I’ll start with a direct tailwind (6:00) and work around the clock counterclockwise. At 6:00, a putt will usually drop. At 5:30, with some wind under the disc, it won’t drop quite as much with a slight hyzer. At 3:00 the disc will lift with hyzer. Change your spot on the post to compensate. A straighter putt will take the lift out. A 1:30 wind will lift a hyzer putt and slow the disc down. It will also push to the left. A straight putt may turn over slightly.

At 12:00 (direct headwind) a slight hyzer or flat putt will lift and turn a bit. A 10:30 wind pushes a hyzer putt down and to the right. This is where a straight putt comes in handy over a loft or hyzer putt. A 9:00 wind has more pronounced effects than a 10:30, pushing hard and down to the right. Aim to the left side of the chains and take out any swooping angles. 7:30 is my perfect wind to putt in. I loft it up and the wind will keep it down and on-line with the disc hyzering.

I think about the wind on the tee. If it’s a strong wind behind me, then I try and throw short and left of the pin, playing for the left 7:30 putt. If there’s a strong headwind, I’ll throw extra hard and blow past the basket for a tailwind putt. That’s the mentality you have to have to make putts easier.

Practice and Goals
Try and eliminate rapid-fire putting for practice. Take the time to line up and check your stance with each putt. Your percentages will go up. Practicing from different distances is important as well as trying different styles. It’s very beneficial to learn how to vary your putts for different circumstances – slow, fast, low, high, turnover, hyzer. You’ll make more putts if you can learn more putts.

The main message for practice is to make sure you spend the most time on those things you’re not doing well. If you’re throwing perfect hyzer putts most of the time but having trouble with straddle putts, work on the straddle. With anything you have problems with in your game, go out and throw repeatedly until you get it right.

Here are some general putting goals I’ve set up for any player: 15 footers – you need to hit every one. 20 footers you need to hit 80%. 25 footers – you need to hit more than half. And try and make at least half of your 30 footers. Make anything outside 30 feet and it’s a bonus whether you’re a pro or an am.

I hope some of these tips will help. Stick with them. The weight shift principal may not help your accuracy at first, but be persistent. If you learn it properly, you know as soon as you release the disc that it’s headed for the bottom of the basket!