No doubt you’ve heard this statistic: 100 percent of putts that come up short do not go in the hole. It’s one of golf’s immutable laws, and one that most golfers run afoul of far too often. Of course, a putt that’s hit much too hard stands little chance of finding the bottom of the cup, too.
Getting the correct speed is the most important aspect of putting – yes, even more important than line. Fact is, the two factors are inseparable, yet we spend far more time worrying about the green’s break than we do working on the speed of our putts. Most three-putts occur not because we’re wide of the hole, but because we’ve left our first attempt far short or smashed it well past the cup.
Here are a few ways to improve your feel for speed:
- Practice with one hand: Your ability to control the putter plays a big part in feel. Using your left hand only, stroke several putts from close range (2-3 feet) until you get comfortable. Then move out another 3-5 feet and repeat, continuing until you’re 25 feet or more from the hole. Then switch to your right hand and start over.
- Use the “ladder drill”: Find an open spot on the practice green and stroke a putt 8-10 feet away, but not toward a cup. Try to hit the next putt three feet past the first one, and the next ball three feet beyond that. Keep it up until you can consistently hit your distance targets.
- Practice lag putts without reading the break: Putt from 30-40 feet using only your instinct for the line and speed. Hit just one ball at a time from any given spot so that the break of each putt is different.
On the day of a round, always spend a few minutes on the practice green to gauge the speed before teeing off. It’s every bit as crucial as warming up on the range.