There are nine aspects of putting that determine your success on the greens. To keep it simple, let’s look at the top two factors: line and speed control.
The speed of your putt will always dictate the line if there is any break. But even if it’s a straight putt, a ball that doesn’t get to the hole or races by will never go in. With good speed your misses will be closer and you’ll eliminate three-putt greens. The key is to practice the following drill from 4 feet, 8 feet, 20 feet and 40 feet to help you get more comfortable putting the two elements together:
1. The speed of most putts should roll 9 or 18 inches past the cup if the ball doesn’t go in. It all depends on the break and condition of the greens. Decide which is best for you.
2. Select the line that matches that speed.
3. Lay your putter in front of your ball with the shaft on the target line, then put a ball marker under your grip. This is your line.
4. Pick up your putter and place another ball marker either 9 inches or 18 inches past the cup. This is the distance the ball will roll past the cup if it doesn’t go in. You have given your brain a clear picture of where you want to start the ball and a clear idea of the speed you’re going for.
5. Set up to the ball and make sure your putter is aimed at your intermediate target, then take a look at your distance target and let the hole get in the way of the ball.
6. Return your eyes to the ball and stroke it.
Your distance might be off initially, but keep practicing. Eventually it will become second nature.
Glenn Deck is one of Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers in America. He is a PGA teaching professional at the Pelican Hill Golf Academy in Newport Coast, where half-day putting schools and short game schools are available. For more information, call (949) 467-5810.