My Golf Instructor

Intentionally Hitting Putts on the Toe or Heel
Do Off Center Putts Help Control Distance?

Learn the pros and cons of off center putting strikes. Intentionally Missing the Sweet Spot

Everyone's a Pro

As I'm sure you know by know if you've been playing the game for any reasonable amount of time, everybody's a "pro." The advice that is spewed out on golf courses around the world is endless and well, mostly comical. Advice certainly isn't a bad thing if it's meant well and fortunately golf is a "gentlemen's game" where we like to help each other improve. Lots of tips and instructions are shared among students of the game and while some actually do help, a lot of them can be detrimental. One of the things that frustrates me the most as an instructor is when a student gets a tip from a popular golf magazine, the Golf Channel or a friend on how to do something they were already doing anyway. In an effort to try doing something new, they then really throw off their game. Whether the advice is solid, or simply silly, the putting green isn't immune either. You may have often heard the advice to hit downhill putt off the toe of your putter and uphill putts off of the heel. In this lesson I am going to discuss the pros and the cons of hitting off center strikes with your putter.

Sweet Spot = Distance & Control

The first thing I want you to do is throw out the advice of striking the ball off of the heel. I have rarely seen a skilled player try to do that and do it successfully. Keep in mind that an off center hit is going to be a weaker hit whether it's off the toe or the heel. The sweet spot is where a true hit occurs that give you the most distance and control that you can achieve whether it's a putt or a full golf swing. Missing the sweet spot anywhere will result in a host of distance and control errors. Making contact on the heel closes the face over and forces a low miss to the left. That is a shot that can roll forever. If you are going to miss the sweet spot the advice of hitting on the toe is a bit safer in my opinion, but still not worth it. The issue with toe strikes is of course putts that will roll off line to the right.

The only way to know if this will work for you and work consistently is to get out and practice it. Experiment like I did in the attached video. Roll one putt by striking it in the sweet spot and then roll one by striking on the toe. If you really think the toe hit came off softer and you want to use it on slick downhill putts, then be my guest, but remember the ball will tend to go off line to the right. To compensate for the directional change, you'll need to aim a bit more to the left. In my case as you saw in the video, I didn't notice any difference and I would rather have a good solid square strike in the sweet spot any day of the week over an off center hit.

Keep in mind you do have two other options to take distance off your putt if you are afraid of a fast downhill putt:

  • Shorten Your Stroke - Making less of a pendulum swing and keeping the stroke small (in some cases as small as possible) is going to take distance off the putt. This is easy to accomplish with a few practice strokes gauging the length of your backswing and follow through with your eyes.
  • Less Power - Simply by not hitting as hard you can take off a lot of the speed you would normally apply to a putt. Light pressure in your hands and a nice light feel through the stroke will help you accomplish a softer touch.

The Situation:

You friends told you to hit the toe or heel of the putter to help control distance and you are wondering if that is a good idea.

The Solution:

Eliminate the idea of hitting the putt in the heel. It is rare to see good players doing this and it is much harder to control. Hitting off the toe will result in a weaker hit, but the ball will also start off to the right. Remember any off center strike will be more difficult to control when it comes to direction and distance. Instead, try shortening your stroke and hitting the putt with less force. The best way to know which option works best for you is to experiment on the practice green before attempting it on the course.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
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