Good putters pay attention to direction and distance control, deciding where to aim and how much energy to exchange onto the ball. Have you ever wondered which of these two is more important? When I pose this question in my clinics, most participants pick direction. (Nope!) Here’s a fact. Successful putters are focused more on imparting the right amount of speed onto the ball. Your procedure must include carefully aiming the face of your putter, but then, all your attention needs to be on rolling the ball the right distance!
First, choose to simplify all the noise of the mechanics processing in your head. Thinking about HOW to make a putting stroke is distracting, making you unavailable to feel your putt. Your most important job is to deliver the ball to the cup feeling the appropriate speed. What is that speed?? For the best chance of the ball falling into the cup, consider having the ball ARRIVE at the cup with only 2-3 revolutions left. This is a speed that allows gravity to act on pulling the ball down into the largest cup. You’ve seen and probably experienced the ball moving too fast though perfectly on line…only to lip out, spinning to a resting place farther away than the original putt!
Here’s a drill that can be done at any distance. Start with a straight, 10-15 foot putt. Set up as you normally do with your eyes directly over or just inside of the top of the ball. When you’re ready, turn your eyes to the hole and LEAVE THEM THERE. DON’T TURN YOUR EYES BACK TO LOOK AT THE BALL. I know you will be worried that you’ll whiff the ball. You won’t. Now LOOKING AT THE TARGET…putt to what you SEE. You might hit the ball too far. ADJUST and make a softer hit. The next might go too short. ADJUST AGAIN until it’s exactly right! That’s how you’ll learn to hit it the correct distance, with the ball travelling only 2 to 3 revolutions past if it doesn’t go in. The best part is you get to SEE in real time how far your ball rolled and what that felt like. Try a 25 foot putt. Try a 6 foot putt. See it, feel it, trust it. Be amazed at how good you get at delivering the ball with great speed. You might even make some this way…not looking at the BALL, JUST looking at the HOLE. Crazy!
Can you use this “trick” of looking at the hole instead of the ball when you play? Sure!! Jordan Spieth did it successfully on short putts a few years ago. Alternatively, build a LONG look at the target into your procedure, burning a picture in your mind’s eye, and then return your eyes to the ball before your stroke. Either way, you’ll SEE…literally, as you focus on great delivery speed, the key to mastering distance control.