Putting: The Need For Speed
Two things affect a golf ball’s ability to find the hole when putting. The first is the speed of the putt; the second is the line you choose based on the break. But of these two, speed is actually the more important component—yet it’s the one that most players think less about when they size up a putt and then stand over the ball.
Most golfers won’t miss a putt far right or far left, but missing a putt well short or well long happens quite a bit. Consider this: PGA Tour players make just 54 percent of putts between five and ten feet. Even those are lengths where speed makes a difference.
So to get the proper feel for speed, incorporate the “ladder” drill into your pre-round practice routine. Take eight to ten golf balls and line them up at distances from the hole of two feet, four feet, six feet, etc.
Next, place a club on the ground about a foot and a half (18”) past the hole, so that it acts as a backstop. Then start your practice putting from the closest ball and work your way back to the last ball. The goal for this drill is not to make every putt (although that would be great), but rather to keep your misses within the area between the hole and the club on the ground. Try to notice how far back you must take the putter head to hit it the correct distance from each spot, so you can repeat that on the course.
Being able to putt the ball at a pace that would send it about 18 inches past the hole is ideal; that’s a pace that helps the ball hold the line, from any distance. If you can do this consistently, it will help you make a lot more putts. But perhaps more importantly, you’ll avoid the dreaded three-putts that can ruin a round.
The Peter Stern Golf Academy can now be found at Indian Head Golf Park in Kings Park.