Now that you have worked out your green reading process, your set up and grip, you are on your way to better putting.
The last piece of the puzzle is working out how to control the pace of the ball, so that it has a chance of going in but will not go too far past the hole if you miss?
All putts have many configurations of line and pace that could be successful. The faster the ball travels, the less the break affects the ball. Conversely the slower the ball travels the more the break affects its line.
The art is to find the combination that allows the ball to travel on the line that you have picked, with enough pace to stay on the line but to go no further than 18” past the hole, if you miss. This ensures that the ball will at least have a chance to go in on the first putt. But, you will be left with a very short second putt if the first misses the hole. Between the line and the pace, pace is the more important.
PUTTING SPEED CONTROL
I have seen many golfers who have a very quick and jerky Putting strokes. However very few of those have been good putters.
The way that the pace of the ball is determined most consistently, is to combine the length of stroke with a consistent tempo.
This sounds a little complicated but, is very easy skill to master. With a little bit of practice, you can become very accurate at your distance control and reduce the number of 3 putts you make drastically.
Look at this short video clip. You will notice that although the swing is getting progressively longer the swing is kept at the same temp (noted by the metronome).
If I keep the rhythm or tempo of the swing the same but increase the length of the swing, I will incrementally increase the pace of the ball and therefore the distance it will travel.
The way that I would encourage you to work out your putting tempo, would be to start with your natural rhythm. You might consider your natural walking pace, one that you would feel comfortable walking on the course, between shots.
To work this out find yourself a flattish area, long enough so you can walk for 1 minute without stopping.
Set you stop watch up and then walk for 1 minute counting each step. Repeat the test 3 times and then take the average number of step as your base line.
You can use the table below to fill out your results and it will work out the average for you automatically.
The average number of steps is the start point for you to work out your putting tempo.
Test 1- 75 Test 2-76 Test 3-78 Total Steps-229 Average-76
You can do the tempo test indoors or out. All you need is your putter and a couple of small coins, to mark the outside position of both feet when you are in stance.
For the ease of explanation, I have completed the test on the putting green and used 3 tee pegs as an example.
The outer pegs are just to limit the length of stroke, to concentrate on finding the right temp of swing, that suits me best. The third is just to identify the middle of the swing.
Use a metronome and set it up to the average steps pace, that you identified from you’re 1-minute walks.
Then set up with your putting station and make swings in between the 2 outside feet markers. This is when the feel for the tempo comes in. Does it feel like a natural rhythm/tempo for you?
If it’s too fast slow the metronome down if it’s too slow speed it up.
After a short period of adjustment, you will settle on a tempo that is unique to you.
Now that you have your tempo, set yourself up with 6 balls on the putting green. Still using your metronome put the 6 balls one at a time, on the same line with a long swing first then gradually reduce the length of swing for each putt.
You should end up with the balls along the putting line at a variety of distances. That is how you control the distance of your putts.
The key to this method is consistent tempo and knowing which length of swing will produce the distance you are after. This takes a little practice and consolidation and repeated use of the metronome, to fine tune your ability to keep to the tempo.
There are other issues that also need to be taken into consideration, such as green speed, uphill and downhill putts. Also, the general condition of the greens time of day and weather conditions.
However, these can generally be worked out on the practice green, before you start you round. It only takes a few minutes to consolidate your thoughts on the greens for the day.
WHAT I DO
The system I use is simple and only takes a few minutes and gets me nice and relaxed, before I head to the first tee.
Before you start your round, it is worth:
- Find a space on the putting green, that is reasonably flat. The things to work on are, green reading and pace and distance control.
- Pace out a 3 and 6ft and 20ft putt, it is not necessary to putt to a hole at this stage. Begin by putting three balls trying to group them at the 3ft mark. Once you manage to get the 3 balls in a small grouping at 3ft then move onto the 6ft and finally the 20ft putt mark.
- I then find a 6ft up hill and practice my green reading process prior to each putt. This practices your green reading process and helps grain in a confidence in your distance control.
When you practice it’s important that you focus on;
- Specific skill
- With aids that provide instant feedback
- With a defined way of testing that you have gained or improved the specific skill
- With enough repetition to ensure that you can incorporate the skill into your putting system and take it to the green
To achieve this, it is important that you practice in a balanced way. Most of your practice say 70% can and should be conducted indoors on a putting matt. The focus should be on the mechanics of stance, posture, balance, grip and stroke.
When you go outside onto the practice green, focus on the art of putting. On green reading pace and distance control.
Practicing like this ensures that you use your time effectively and maximises skill acquisition and development.