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Putting Tip: Distance Control

Mon, Jan 2 2023 5:14 PM (1,173 replies)
  • nivlac
    2,188 Posts
    Wed, Dec 24 2008 2:41 PM


    This tutorial was written for the WGT Starter Putter on Standard Green Speeds.  If you are on slow or fast greens or using a different putter then the ranges and "movements" discussed within will vary for you.  However, regardless of what the green speed is or the putter you are using the formula to discover your ranges and movements is the same.


    The ability to putt well is the most important tool in your bag because putting represents a whopping 42% of your score.

    As Josh Zander says, "Distance control is the key to great putting.  The speed you hit the putt determines its line; therefore, every putt other than a straight putt is determined by how hard you hit it."

    This guide will show you how to more consistently control your distance with the putter, so that you can shave a few important strokes off your score.


    If you're just getting started on the World Golf Tour then you may be having a little trouble getting used to the distance control.  You have probably had some putts that came up well short or blazed a trail by the hole and that can be frustrating at times.  Chances are you've played a golf game with some sort of meter before, however most of the time there were little markers to indicate 50%, 75% and so on.  Not so here on WGT.  You are greeted with a blank swing meter with no visual aids whatsoever.

    On the real golf course we gauge the power of our putts by how far back we draw the putter in the backswing, but what you may not know is that you can do the same thing on the virtual course.  Check out the pictures below.

    On the 30 foot scale, the Starter putter has a total of 5 backwards movements.

    Obviously this is the rest position.  Click your mouse and drag it slowly forward.

    Right about here, we see the first movement.

    Now the 2nd... (see how the putter's back is touching the line)

    The 3rd... (the back is crossing the line now)

    The 4th... (now the front of the putter is on the line)

    Finally, the 5th motion back happens when you reach full strength.  You can see that almost the entire putter is over the line now.  Try this out for yourself. You will clearly be able to see the distinct movements.

    The Starter Putter has a 30 foot scale with 5 equal backwards movements.  30 feet divided by 5 movements is 6 feet per movement,  so each time the putter moves backwards you're at the 6 foot mark (or 12, or 18, you get the point).  On the 60 foot scale there are also 5 movements, each representing 12 feet of power.  On the 150 foot scale there are 10 equal movements with each representing 15 feet of power.  On the 300 foot scale there are also 10 equal movements with each movement representing 30 feet of power.

    TIP:  Watch the green speeds!  On faster greens you may find your 6 foot putts travel an additional foot or two.  You'll need to adjust your ranges for the varying green speeds.

    If you're using a putter other than the Starter, you'll need to apply the formula and figure out the movements for yourself.  Draw the putter back slowly and count each time your avatar physically moves. Note the space between the movements to see if they are the same.  If they are the same then this is easy.  You simply divide the number of feet (30, 60, 90 etc) by the number of movements.  If all but the last movement is equal then most likely the last movement is a half and you'll need to do a little guessing.  For example, the 60ft iWi Anser putter scale has 7 full movements and 1 half movement.  If we multiply 7.5 x 8, we get 60.  After a few putts of verification, you'll know if you guessed your measurements right.

    TIP:  When you purchase a new putter, always map your distances first in a practice round!  Start with standard speed to get your baseline and then move to the green speed that you play the most.

    BONUS TIP:  Male and Female avatars have different ranges and movement numbers on the same putters!  For example, Female avatars using the 30 foot starter putter actually have 6 movements with 5 feet per movement instead of 5 for 6 like the men.  Be sure to watch out for this ladies!

    Having plenty of speed is important, because an ideal putt does not fall in the front door drunk.  If you are not familiar with the phrase "Never up, never in", it's all about leaving your putt short.  The ball can't go in the hole if it doesn't have enough power to get there, so good putts will always have enough speed to run 2 or 3 feet beyond the hole.  The added speed is important and helps the putt "hold the line" so it will roll more true. 

    When it comes to elevation changes the general rule of thumb is to add 1 foot of power for every inch uphill and subtract 1 foot for each inch downhill.  Please remember that this is not an exact formula. Green speed will have a lot to do with your calculation here, so practice is the only way to zero in on the right approach.  Tinker with it and you'll eventually find the right touch that works for you.

    Downhill putts generally go slow.  We strike them with less force because we don't want to ram them way past the hole.  When you are putting downhill you can expect the break to have a more noticeable effect because the ball does not have as much forward motion to fight the break.  Conversely, uphill putts move faster and break less because they are struck firmly with enough power to fight against the break.  When you're putting uphill you're not usually worried about going too far past the hole, so don't be afraid to hit it.  Give it a good stroke and expect less break than normal.  Just like the PGA Pros, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the topography of the greens.  Knowing where to land your approach so you leave yourself a straight uphill putt is crucial to knocking off those extra strokes, especially on difficult courses like Oakmont where position is everything on the green.

    Finally, always... ALWAYS pay extra special attention to the color of the putting grid.  Black sections are flat, blue sections indicate an uphill swing and red sections indicate downhill.  The more vibrant the color, the more severe the change in elevation.  Look at the picture below...

    You've probably seen this putt before.  This is on Kiawah's 3rd hole when your approach shot lands short of the pin.  It looks like a pretty innocent putt.  The break is minimal as you can see by my aim however, I see the vast majority of players leave this putt short and here's why.

    Look at the info box (the blue box).  The hole is 12 feet away from me and it's telling me that I have 0 inch uphill putt.  Good spot to be, but it's lying to me. You should always treat a 0 inch uphill putt as a 1 inch uphill putt.  If you look real closely at my aim line, you can see that the color is gradually changing to blue as it nears the hole.  In fact, it actually starts to change about 2 feet from the hole.  We know that blue on the grid indicates uphill, so this supposedly flat putt actually has an uphill swing right at the very end!  Most putts are moving slowly when they're only 2 feet away and thus are very susceptible to break or elevation change . Once that putt hits the uphill section it loses its momentum fast and the putt winds up 6 inches short.  Keep an eye out for this in the future and be sure to compensate for it when you see it.

    TIP: A golfer's notepad is his best friend!  Don't be afraid to jot down tendencies when you see them so you can be better prepared for the next time you face a similar putt.  This is what the Pros do and taking a similar approach can only benefit your game.

    Once you learn to control your distance well then figuring out the break becomes a lot easier.  With good distance control you'll start to see the same putts consistently breaking the same amounts each time.  After you see it enough times you'll learn to adjust and you'll start dropping more putts.

    Remember folks,  you drive for show, but you putt for dough!

    Hope this was helpful to some of you.  Suggestions for improvements are welcome.

  • Mainiack
    79 Posts
    Wed, Dec 24 2008 6:34 PM


    very informative and helpful , I had not noticed this .  ty nivlac

  • nivlac
    2,188 Posts
    Wed, Dec 24 2008 7:44 PM

    I apologize for there not being any pictures right now. My hosting is being flaky.

    *edit* Seems to be ok again.

  • nhlett
    64 Posts
    Sat, Dec 27 2008 12:46 PM


    Thank you so much! I tryed your method on a practice 9 and shot my lowest 9 hole score yet. Only one 3 putt and that was on the first hole.

    Now if I can only do the same when it counts. Excellent tutorial!


  • nivlac
    2,188 Posts
    Sat, Dec 27 2008 2:16 PM

    That's what I like to hear! :D

    One last thing.  I didnt' make a mention of the 150 foot scale putter because I don't use it.  As of this writing the 150ft putter is believed to be about 10% stronger than it should be, thus it's more of a hamper on your short game than anything else.  If you get stuck with the 150ft scale then I really recommend pulling out the flopper or hitting a chip.  You're better off.

  • foxysocks
    13 Posts
    Sun, Dec 28 2008 10:49 AM

    tks a lot

    this is helping my  putting a lot

  • DivetDuffer
    6 Posts
    Mon, Dec 29 2008 8:00 AM

     Tiger doesnt putt with a "hmm about 3/4"  he can putt 72% or 74% lol


    Hes a human calculator

  • TheLady
    3 Posts
    Mon, Dec 29 2008 2:43 PM

    Thanks for the tips.  Now hopefully it will help me when I get on the green.

  • Abak
    62 Posts
    Tue, Dec 30 2008 9:00 AM

     Thanks nivlac, you should be a coach and paid for!:)


  • iconian
    599 Posts
    Tue, Dec 30 2008 9:15 AM

    nice tutorial.