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How to practice putting speed

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Does anyone on here have a specific practice ritual or tip on how to practice putting speed. I have no idea why but I tend to always putt the ball too hard and can't control my distance. I am a solid ball striker but my short game and putting is killing me.



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Does anyone on here have a specific practice ritual or tip on how to practice putting speed. I have no idea why but I tend to always putt the ball too hard and can't control my distance. I am a solid ball striker but my short game and putting is killing me.



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I improved my putting last year by 5 strokes per 18. What my coach recommended and what worked for me was to 1) get a consistent tempo. 2) practice hitting in the sweet spot because if you don't you'll lose distance. 3) set up in the same stance everytime. This way you can use your back foot as a guide (inside foot = x distance, outside foot = y distance). Practicing this often and especially before every round really helped me. This way I didn't have to worry about what it "feels" like and just worry about putting.

I hope that makes sense!


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Practice is the only advise I have, as I tend to do the opposite, leave them short. If you were lagging all your putts, I have some tips for that.



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A simple ladder drill works well. Put tees at 10,15,20,25 feet. Putt consecutive balls to between each rung of the ladder. As your distance control improves, you can tighten the gaps up to 3 feet, then 2.


For really long putts, you can still do the same thing, ideally using your lag distance as a base for the gap (double your lag distance)


Repetitions is the key to this drill working.

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I remember reading in a David Leadbetter book that the length of your stroke should always control the distance you hit the ball, but you have to develop a good, constant tempo that remains the same on both long and short strokes. He mentioned to always hit it firm enough so that if it misses, it'll finish about 18 inches past the hole, which is firm enough to hold its' line.


The best way to practice is to put down tees at marked distances, say 10-20-30ft and get a feel for the stroke it takes to hit it that far. It's all about muscle memory.

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I do the ladder drill in my basement. Since I'm a bit of a geek, I wanted to know the speed of the cheap carpet in my basement so I cobbled a stimp meter out of crap I had in my garage. My basement rolls about an 18.


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In my experience, the enviable 2.1:1 tempo ratio is a consistent characteristic of the best lag putters. I can't recall the exact source but remember reading a small study that collected tempo data on golfers putting while looking at the ball vs looking at the hole. The results suggested tempo generally corrected toward the ideal ratio when study participants looked at the hole while stroking putts. To me personally, it also suggested looking at the hole while putting belongs on the very short list of practice drills that inherently develop more precise feel. It's primarily a psychological shift, that for some reason, opens a door for the average golfer to progress from a hit stroke to roll stroke almost instantly. But the reason I most trust the aforementioned theory is that it seems to hold true for a wide variety of stroke lengths and arcs without requiring any additional adjustments. The caveat to looking at the hole on longer putts is face contact quality - it may not be pretty at first but you'll probably adjust quickly. Viewed as an isolated trade off curve the data would probably suggest limited potential improvement for on course play but I think the method can be hacked quite simply.


Next time you're on the putting green, pull out 3 balls and set them all up in the same spot (~30 feet from the hole). Roll the first two putts while looking at the hole, attempting a dead weight pace and focus on absorbing the tempo of your stroke. Roll the third putt while looking at the ball; without peeking and based solely on the feel, decide if the pace was short, dead weight (within ~12 inches), or long. Repeat the cycle from a different spot. You will be amazed how quickly both your pre-shot judgement and feel for distance improves. Good luck!

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Just get out there and putt. Lag putts, short putts, everything in between. Feel for speed and distance needs to be developed through practice.


Trying to make this overly mechanical is a recipe for disaster


Read Dave Stockton's Unconscious Putting. It's a game changer.

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Wow, lots of options and recommendations. What I do before every round is drop three balls on the flattest part of the green.


Then I take my normal stance and a stroke only taking the putter back to in inside of my back foot. I hit all three balls this way and wee what that distance is.


Then I hit them again with a backstroke that goes to the middle of my back foot, then another round taking it back past my back foot.


That gives me three distances that I know will roll out on the greens that day. I don't change my pacing or stroke based on the greens each day. I just do this drill to figure out what length backstroke is needed.


Really helps me be confident on the greens for distance.


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One of the best ways to practice speed is to take a break from using your putter and like a bowling stroke, roll some balls on the green. I find often with students that if they struggle with their speed control, they are often too caught up in mechanics. Forget the stroke, dial in your feel. If you through a ball to your friend 10 yards away you don't calculate how much power you need to use. You simply react by using your feel. Putting should feel more like this. Practice rolling some balls on the green like a bowling ball. After about 5-10 mins of practice, use your putter and try and “feel” the same thing.



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This is turning into a great thread guys! Really awesome stuff from everyone. After reading/lurking... :P I am excited to try my hand at the ladder drill-Good stuff!

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Another vote for the ladder drill.

Another one I use when warming up before a round is to place 3 balls in the middle of a green about 20 feet from a hole. I line up and putt the first ball, then without looking up immediately step into and putt the 2nd and 3rd balls. Then I move back to 30 feet for the same drill and then up to 10 feet and do it again. That's one circuit. I then find a different 20 putt and do the same circuit. I try to get in 3 circuits

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I saw a playing lessons with the pros with Annika where she said she would practice speed by going to the middle of the practice green and trying to just roll the ball onto the fringe.


I've used that drill forever.


It works for me.



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I saw a playing lessons with the pros with Annika where she said she would practice speed by going to the middle of the practice green and trying to just roll the ball onto the fringe.


I've used that drill forever.


It works for me.



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I've done the same thing. It seems to be the best for me as well.


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All great suggestions for speed practice.  As mentioned by @downlowkey, I look at the hole for all putts and I have pretty good speed control, but like everyone says, I have to keep practicing to maintain the feel.  I spend about 2 hours a week on putting drills, in 30 minute increments.


What hasn't been mentioned is why you might have poor speed control.  One of the most common reasons of poor speed control is flipping the wrists.  The hands must lead the clubhead at impact.  If the lead wrist breaks down, speed control is very difficult to achieve.  


You have not mentioned how you grip your putter.  Lead hand low is popular now, but it doesn't work for me.  It doesn't really matter what grip you use, but it must be comfortable to you and absolutely must be different than your full swing grip.  The full swing grip promotes release of the club, and that's not good with the putter.  Just a personal comment about gripping the putter... I see a lot of people put their trail hand index finger down the shaft.  I used to do that; don't know why people do it but it's common.  It also assists flipping.  Once I got rid of that grip, my control of putting speed improved.

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I noticed while playing Friday that I just didn't feel comfortable over the ball. I appreciate all the great comments and I will definitely use some of these methods to practice my putting. I have two different putters that I switch out. One putter is aligned more easily but can't control the speed as well. The other is the opposite. Can't align as well but speed is a ton better.



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  • 4 weeks later...

I used to struggle with this.


Your brain knows subconsciously how far to hit.


If you don't believe try this.

Roll a ball with your hand to different holes at different distances. Very easy, very little thought into it.


You need to find a natural stroke that emulates that feeling of rolling the ball. Too much thinking messes you up!

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