By Josh Zander
Distance control is the key to great putting. Ben Crenshaw and Brad Faxon come to my mind when I think of great putters. Their putts always look like they have a chance of going in. The bottom line is that they have great touch which is another way of saying they have great distance control.
Studies have shown that 12 inches past the hole is the ideal speed at which to roll a putt. This will give the ball a good chance at running straight through the nooks and crannies around the hole that are not visible to the naked eye. It is also important to understand that for every 6 inches past this point, you lose 12% of the hole. The simple fact is that the ball will be rolling too fast to go in, hence the hole shrinks. The table below shows your chances of making the putt based on the speed it would roll past the hole:
|Feet past the hole
|Size of Hole
12% decrease in the size of the hole
24% decrease in the size of the hole
36% decrease in the size of the hole
48% decrease in the size of the hole
60% decrease in the size of the hole
72% decrease in the size of the hole
96% decrease in the size of the hole
Once you get beyond 5 feet past speed, you basically have no chance of holing the putt! Hopefully, this gets you thinking about speed when you putt. A significant portion of your practice time should be devoted to speed.
One way to work on speed is to putt with a consistent tempo. I like to putt to the beat of a pendulum. There is an app on the Iphone which ticks to the beat of a pendulum. I suggest starting the beat at 72 beats per minute to see if you like it. If it is too slow, then up the tempo. If it is too fast, you can slow the tempo. The key is to find the rhythm that works for you. Once you find it, putt every putt with the same tempo. It is ok to count in your head while you putt. To roll the putt further, increase the length of your stroke. To roll the putt shorter, decrease the length of your stroke. Keep the tempo always the same and you will become a consistent putter. Practice rolling your balls with a speed that would go12 inches past the hole and you are on your way to being the next Ben Crenshaw or Brad Faxon.