Golf Monthly top 25 coach Clive Tucker explains how pace and line in putting are linked and offers some simple tips for helping with both
How pace and line in putting are linked
Line and pace are inextricably linked when it comes to putting. Focusing purely on the pace without enough consideration for the line will often cause you to hit your putts either too hard or too soft. This is relatively straight-forward when the break is obvious but when slopes are subtle, it’s worth using the following approach. As you read the green, try to identify the straight, uphill putt. I have laid an alignment stick down in this instance, to illustrate where this is. Wherever your ball is, it will want to break towards the straight uphill putt. I have put balls down either side of the straight putt – one will break towards the left, the other will break towards the right. Once you have a picture in mind for how the ball will roll, you’ll be in a far better position to get the pace right with a more positive stroke.
When it comes to consistency on the green you need to rely on your bigger muscles and keep your smaller, ‘twitch’ muscles quiet. If you have a ‘wristy’ putting stroke you will also probably struggle for distance control. To help, place a ball between the butt end of the club and your left wrist at address. Now make some strokes. You should be able to swing the putter back and through without the ball coming loose. Practice this by making stroke after stroke and you’ll start to groove a much more reliable action, especially from long range.
Keeping your body still is essential on the green. If the sun’s out, practice your stroke with your shadow stretching out directly in front of you. This will highlight any unnecessary body movements that could be killing your consistency.
Short putting pace
It’s one of the most frustrating sights in the game. You have a tricky 3-footer and dribble it towards the hole – it rolls weakly offline and your score takes a hit. A great drill to help you make a more positive stroke is to place the shaft of your wedge in front of the hole. Now hit a series of 3-footers. Only the putts you hit with conviction will pop up and over the shaft, into the hole. Anything else will get stopped. Groove a more positive short range stroke and you can aim a little straighter on breaking putts as well.
The best way to groove your distance control is through practice. But you need a constructive way to improve and this drill works by adding an element of pressure to your practice time. Use three tee pegs to create an umbrella shape behind the hole – each tee should be around 2ft away from the edge of the cup. Hit one putt from the following distances out – 5ft, 7, ft, 9ft, 11ft, 13ft and 15ft, starting at 5ft and working away. You get five points for holing out and 2 points for getting the ball inside the umbrella but if the ball doesn’t reach the hole, you get minus two points. Every time you try this drill, aim to beat your personal best. You’ll develop your ability to control pace under pressure – a crucial skill for any golfer.
- Prevent your wrists from breaking during the stroke
- Try to keep your body still
- Make a positive stroke from short range
- Take care over reading the green as this will affect pace
- Inject pressure into your practice routine
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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