Controlling Distance with Your Putting Stroke

The best way to control distance is with the length of your putting stroke.  A good way to practice controlling your distance is to first develop a smooth repeatable putting stroke and keep your backstroke length about the same distance as your follow through.  Then measure how far your ball goes based on the length of your putting stroke.  Let me illustrate with a practice drill.
Set up three balls in a row that will be used as your guide balls. To start with place these balls about 5-6 inches apart. The center ball is marks where you will be striking the ball. The back ball is where your backstroke will end and the forward ball is where your follow through stroke will end. Then set a fourth ball, the one you will hit, about four inches from the center ball.putting_drill_strokeNext, take a  practice stoke but keep the entire length of your stroke between the forward guide ball and the back guide ball. Try a slow backstroke and smooth and flowing follow through that slowly accelerates through impact.  Remember to keep your upper body solid as one complete unit and use a pendulum type of stroke. Now keep repeating this with about a dozen balls and make a note to how far they have gone. The goal is to have the same comfortable smooth pace of your stroke each time and eventually the balls will all travel the same distance.
Repeat this process again at varying lengthens of your guide balls. Set the guide balls at one inch from the center ball, then two inches, then three and so on. At each distance practice until the balls all go the same distance. Also, at each distance make a note as to how far the balls have gone.  Again, keep maintaining the same smooth tempo in your stroke at each interval.
What is very important to keep in mind with this drill is that you are not trying to achieve a certain distance but to see how far the ball goes with different lengths of your stroke. The ultimate goal here is for you to know how far your ball goes based on the length of your stroke.
Now when you are a faced with say a ten foot putt you will immediately know much putting stroke is need. For, example for you this maybe a five inch backstroke based on the tempo of your stroke.  Six inches maybe for fifteen foot putt. Two inches for a four foot putt. This drill actually has you working backwards. What I mean it is not picking out a distance and trying to reach it but controlling and measuring your stroke and seeing how far it will go.
As a further note your guide for distance will obviously have to be adjusted for the amount of slope and green conditions. For example if you have a slight ten foot uphill put you may need a say a six inch backstroke instead of five inches for a flat putt. But what is important that practicing this drill well help keep the guess work out of what you need to do to achieve a certain distance. You can also practice this drill with a ruler as a guide. This will also help on keeping your putter head parallel to the target line while you are practicing on distance.ruler-as-guide-2 Below is an excellent video from David Leadbetter, top ranked PGA instructor, on putting stroke length and distance. David explains… “The length of your stroke determines the length of your putt. You want the same tempo whether you have a 3-foot putt or a 30-foot putt. Use a longer—not harder—stroke for lengthy putts.”  David Leadbetter


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