In my last blog I reviewed AimPoint Express which focused on where to aim. Arguably even more important than “aim” is “pace” – that is how hard you hit the putt. You could have read the line perfectly but if you leave the putt 6 feet short – it’s of limited value.
Judging the pace of the putt is an art, it’s primarily about feel. In Dave Pelz’s Putting Bible he suggested if you missed a putt, try to finish 18 inches past the hole. This is a good philosophy for medium to slow paced straight putts. However for faster putts with plenty of break, it’s better to “die the putt” into the hole as this approach makes the hole bigger.
Drill 1 – length of backstroke
Experiment with different lengths of backswing and follow through. For example, make 3 putts without a specific target where you set up a tee 6 inches either side of the ball (but outside of the putt line) and make a putting stroke that’s about 6” back and 6 “ through.
Hit 3 balls using this method. Note how far the balls travel. If the distance is inconsistent, give more attention to the pace of the stroke. Focus on achieving the same tempo for reach putt. Repeat the drill with the tees at 9” and 1 foot either side of the ball.
Drill 2 – Off centre putts
If you have a tendency to hit a putt either off the toe or the heal rather than the “sweet spot” in the centre, your putts will probably come up short. A good drill to find the centre of the putter face is to place some blue tack on the heal and toe of the putter face. Any off centre putts will “die” off the putter face giving you instant feedback
Drill 3 – Distance putting – tennis
Team up with a friend on the putting green and stand about 10 yards part; ideally both near a hole. Putt to each other’s feet with minimal set up time. I.e. set your feet, look at your buddy and go! Be aware of your stroke, is there less tension, more freedom and more “release” of the putter head than normal?
After about six putts switch the target to the hole close to your buddy’s feet.. Notice if anything changes in your stroke (tension, over thinking, etc) Switch back to putting tennis again for 3 more and back to the hole for 3 more. Discuss your experience with your buddy.
Drill 4 – Putt while looking at the target
Might seem a bit weird to begin with but really focuses the mind on what the task is. “Hit it there “ is the constant message to your golf brain (yes we all have one – some are just more developed than others) Be aware of the quality of the strike and the pace of the putt. Jordan Speith used this technique to good effect when The British Open.
Drill 5 – Putt with your eyes closed
Set up to a given target, then close your eyes and putt. Keep your eyes closed after the stroke and declare if you think the putt was long or short (best with a partner rather than talking to yourself) the drill should heighten your awareness of the length of stroke, your tempo and the centeredness of the stroke.
Drill 6 – “Never up never in”
Do you have a tendency to leave putts short? In your next round, keep a separate score card for every putt and try to go 12” past the hole. The only acceptable failure is if the hole gets in the way first The goal is 12” not 6 feet past the hole so don’t be too gung-ho. Ideally have a competition with a friend and have a side bet of say £1 for every putt left short to your favourite charity; anything to focus the mind a little more.
Drill 7 – Breath
This is part of my pre-shot putting routine right now and helping me make far more 6-8 footers. I set up, pick an aim point, look back at the ball, take a big breath in through my nose, exhale and then putt straight away. It’s a great trigger, helps me relax and swing without tension and with a good tempo too.
Pace is arguably even more important than line. The key is an even tempo and a strike out of the putter sweet spot as well as total commitment to reach the hole.
If you’d like to try any of the drills discussed here – just get in touch.
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