How To Judge Putting Distance

PGA pro Katie Dawkins has some advice on how to judge putting distance that will help you shoot lower scores

How to judge putting distance
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

If you're struggling with three-putting, learning how to judge putting distance should be high on the list of priorities. Getting your first effort close to the hole from long range is vital if you want to score well. So, how do you get distance control down to a fine art? Advanced PGA pro Katie Dawkins has some advice in the video and article below…

For golfers prone to the dreaded three-putt (or worse), leaving a putt short or smacking it long is the most common mistake. All of a sudden what should have been a routine par is now in jeopardy and hangs on whether you can slot a six-footer.

RELATED: Best putters for beginners 

How many shots a round would you save if you could just two-putt every time you’re faced with a long-range effort? Some might get close to double figures, yet conventional wisdom is to have a swing lesson rather than address issues on the greens.

How to judge putting distance

Let’s start with the basics and first thing's first, a change in putting grip could provide some answers. And if that doesn't help, you want to try and take the hands out of it as much as possible by loosening your grip.

Softer hands will enable you to stroke the ball along the green rather than bashing it. If you were going to roll a ball as if playing lawn bowls then you certainly wouldn’t be gripping it hard, and the arm swing would be free flowing. 

How to judge putting distance

Imagine rolling a ball to the hole. This will help you get a much better feel for a long putt
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

There would be more through than back as you smoothly accelerate before releasing. Try and practise this along your putting green, or better still, out on the course one evening. 

Choose a green or a putt that bugs the heck out of you - maybe it cost you a bad score recently - and take a few balls onto the green when nobody else is on the course. Now, simply roll them from different places. 

RELATED: Claw grip for putting - How it works

Then add a putter into the equation and try to recreate that length of arm swing and tempo. It’s essential that you keep the tempo of your stroke the same regardless of the length of putt - think of a metronome 1-2 or a tick-tock. This will give you the rhythm to putt to.

How to judge putting distance

When practising, make sure you putt from various locations
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

What you will learn while out there is not only the pace of the greens, but also how much the slopes come into play. And over time, you’ll get a feel for the length of stroke required for longer putts and learn to rely more on the momentum of a larger stroke to roll the ball instead of thumping it.

There is absolutely NO reason you can’t be as good as the best putters in the world. There are probably one or two reasons why you can’t dedicate the same time to practising this part of your game but, technically, no reason. 

So at least make a dent in your score today by sharpening up on the greens. Most people’s struggles are a result of not practising enough, if at all, so get out there and find out how YOU control distance as everyone is different. 

You’ll start to really make gains on the greens if you do.

Katie Dawkins
Advanced PGA Professional and freelance contributor

Katie is an Advanced PGA professional with over 20 years of coaching experience. She helps golfers of every age and ability to be the best versions of themselves. In January 2022 she was named as one of Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches.


Katie coaches the individual and uses her vast experience in technique, psychology and golf fitness to fix problems in a logical manner that is effective - she makes golf simple. Katie is now based at the stunning Hamptworth Golf Club on the edge of the New Forest. An experienced club coach, she developed GardenGOLF during lockdown and as well as coaching at Hamptworth she freelances, operating via pop-up clinics and travelling to clients homes to help them use their space to improve. 


She has coached tour pros on both LET tour and the Challenge Tour as well as introduced many a beginner to the game. 


Katie has been writing instructional content for magazines for 20 years. Her creative approach to writing is fuelled by her sideline as an artist.