Putting Drills For Distance Control

PGA pro Katie Dawkins shares some putting drills for distance control that will lead to more consistency on the greens

putting drills for distance control

When golfers attempt to control distance on mid-to-long putts, many simply try and hit the ball harder or softer. They usually adopt the same length of stroke and vary the amount of oomph given each time. This is quite a difficult way to be consistent with your distance control. 

In this video and article, PGA pro Katie Dawkins shares a simple drill that will help golfers gain consistency in their stroke by using momentum over force...

When we hit a long putt really hard the ball skids and jumps all over the place before rolling. So it’s far better to maintain a pendulum action, ensuring the tempo remains the same for each putt, short or long.

Four-ball drill

Soft hands are essential if you want a silky stroke. Squeezing the life out of your putter will result in a jerky action and more of a hit through impact. Instead, you want the ball to get in the way of a solid motion. To practise this, set four balls up on a flat stretch of green, ideally one with no severe slopes. Place them in a row so you’re putting them across the green one ball after another.

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You need to almost put the blinkers on so you don't look and see where each ball finishes. If you peek you can easily influence how hard you hit the next ball.

It's also important to ensure you have a flatstick that suits your stroke type. If, for example, you tend to arc the putter, you'll find more success with a blade model that tends to have more toe hang. Alternatively, if you've got more of a straight-back-and-through stroke, at one of the best mallet putters is where you should be looking.

All about the rhythm

Use a rhythm like tick-tock or 1-2, keeping the same tempo almost like having a metronome in your head. If you can maintain this throughout all of your putts, it makes it easier to gauge distance simply by the length of stroke.

The first putt is a small tick-tock, then you want to keep that tempo and just lengthen it back and through each time until all four balls have gone.

putting drills for distance control

Maintain the same tempo in the stroke when completing this ladder drill

What you want to see when you look up the green is a beautifully consistent ladder of balls, with a fairly even distribution and each one having gone slightly further than the one previous.

If there is an an anomaly - a ball that’s totally out of whack with the others - you know you've either hit it too hard or decelerated. Repeat the drill and keep going until you become adept at creating consistently even ladders.

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Once you've done that, take out a glove or a tee and mark where you putted from then work back to that point with each of the four balls. Getting into the habit of visualising the stroke you put on each putt when creating the ladder will help. This is going to just reinforce the length of strokes required to send the ball a certain distance.

Do this a few times or until you feel you've got the pace of the green and are able to control the distance  through the stroke rather than giving it a whack. Make this your go-to distance control drill and you'll notice a difference - quickly.

When on the course, do a few rehearsal strokes when standing behind the ball looking down the line of the putt and really visualise where your ball will go with a certain length of stroke. You’ll soon learn how to stop three-putting, which will increase your confidence and save you buckets of shots.

Give these putting drills for distance control a try and it could make a big difference to your scoring!

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.