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How to Control Your Distance when Putting

Controlling your putting distance in golf is an important way to lower your scores. Learn techniques, drills, and strategies to master precise distance control.
Control Distance Putting

Putting is often considered the most critical aspect of golf. It requires precision, touch, and the ability to control distance effectively. The ability to gauge and control distance when putting can make a significant difference in your overall score. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into various techniques, strategies, and drills to help you develop the skills necessary to control your distance and become a proficient putter.

Understanding Speed and Distance Control

Controlling distance in putting is closely tied to speed. Speed refers to the pace at which you strike the ball. By understanding the relationship between speed and distance, you can develop a better sense of how to manage the roll of the ball on the greens.

To control speed and distance, it is crucial to develop a consistent putting stroke. A smooth, rhythmic stroke with proper tempo and acceleration is essential. Practicing a pendulum-like motion during your practice strokes right before you make the actual putt helps achieve more consistent speed, making it easier to control the distance the ball travels.

Develop a Feel for Green Speed

Each golf course has its unique green speed, influenced by factors such as grass type, weather conditions, and maintenance practices. Developing a feel for the specific green speed is vital to controlling your distance when putting.

Start by spending some time on the practice green before your round. Take note of the speed and observe how the ball rolls on different parts of the green. Gradually adjust your stroke to match the speed, and practice lag putts from various distances to get a sense of how much power is needed for different lengths.  

If you see good putters, there is a slight pause at transition from backstroke to the forward stroke.  This will help you accelerate enough to create the touch you need to become consistent with your touch. 

Utilize Visualization and Imagery

Visualization is a powerful tool in distance control. Before each putt, take a moment to visualize the desired roll of the ball and the target. Imagine the ball traveling along the intended line and reaching the hole with the perfect speed. This mental imagery helps program your brain for the ideal distance and promotes a smoother stroke. What I tell my students is when they make that practice stroke, look at the hole while doing so. That helps you build your touch without thinking about the distance as much.  

Implement Distance Control Drills

Engaging in purposeful drills can significantly enhance your distance control skills. When you go practice putting, do so where it’s more fun and you’re more focused. Here are a few effective drills to incorporate into your practice routine:

Clock Drill

Place several tees or markers around the hole, representing different distances (e.g., 3 feet, 6 feet, 9 feet). Start from the closest tee and work your way around the clock, attempting to make each putt. This drill helps develop touch and feel for various distances.

Ladder Drill

This drill I invented myself.  Take a step from the hole in any direction and drop the ball and putt from there. You should be about 3 feet / 1 step. Your goal is to one-putt or two-putt from that distance. If you do putt it in the hole without three-putting, then you get to do it again by taking 2 steps from the hole, drop the ball and putt from there as well. You keep going back on that same line and further back trying to one or two putt. 

When you three putt from a distance, the game is over and you have to restart to one step / 3-feet. This is a great drill to keep you focused because there’s a consequence for missing putts so you do what you need to do to prepare just like you would on the course. 

This drill will also teach you on how to read greens and the farther you go back, you will also practice your distance without thinking about it.  

Make em’ all Drill

Set up a short distance putt on the practice green. Putt 3-4 balls and see if you can make them all in one turn.  If you do, go back farther and see if you can make all the putts again. This puts pressure on each putt as you go and knowing the correct break in that putt, you need to rely on your stroke to become consistent. 

Pay Attention to Green Reading

Accurate green reading is essential for distance control. Understanding the slope, grain, and contours of the green can help you anticipate how the ball will roll and adjust your stroke accordingly. Take your time to analyze the green, look for visual cues, and make informed judgments about the break and speed required for each putt.

Practice Lag Putting

Lag putting refers to longer putts that require distance control rather than focusing on making the putt itself. By practicing lag putting, you develop a better sense of touch and distance control, as well as minimizing three-putts. Set up a series of longer putts and concentrate on getting the ball close to the hole without sacrificing control.  Take two balls in this drill so you can use the second ball to improve after the first one.  

Maintain a Positive Mindset

Distance control when putting is not solely about physical skills; it also involves mental focus and a positive mindset. Avoid becoming overly cautious or tentative when facing longer putts. Trust your abilities and commit to the stroke. You should know that stroke when making those practice strokes before you actually make the putt.  Confidence plays a crucial role in executing precise distance control.

Mastering distance control when putting is a skill that requires practice, patience, and a deep understanding of the greens. By developing a consistent stroke, honing your feel for green speed, implementing visualization techniques, and practicing purposeful drills, you can enhance your ability to control distance and become a proficient putter. These drills are to give you the confidence with a consistent stroke to perform when it matters. 

Remember to pay attention to green reading, maintain a positive mindset, and embrace the challenge of putting. With dedicated practice and a focus on distance control, you will gain the confidence to consistently roll the ball with precision, ultimately leading to lower scores and improved performance on the greens.

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V Tongwarin

V Tongwarin

Visanu Tongwarin or “Coach V” is a Class A PGA Teaching Professional at Legacy Ridge Golf Course and Walnut Creek Golf Preserve in Westminster, Colorado. V's brings his passion for teaching the game of golf to all levels of golfers from running children clinics to training state champions and seasoned professionals.