How to judge putting distance

When putting from distance, getting your first effort close to the hole is vital if you want to score well. And 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.

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.

So, how do you master the first putt and get that distance control down to a fine art? Advanced PGA pro Katie Dawkins has some advice…

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. 

Imagine rolling a ball to the hole. This will help you get a much better feel for a long putt

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. 

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.

When practising, make sure you putt from various locations

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.