A lot of golfers think the key on long putts is speed and shorter putts are more about line. Actually, speed is critical on all putts. The pace of the ball dictates the size of the hole. If you hit a putt firmly, the effective width of the cup might be two inches, but if the ball is rolling slowly, the cup might play twice as wide. So let's work on your speed with this putting drill.
Here's a great drill I use all the time. Set up an imaginary box using four tees, three feet wide and about a foot-and-a-half deep. Drop three balls five feet from the center of the box, and try to roll all three into it (above). If a ball doesn't come to rest inside the boundaries, start over. Once you get all three, move back two feet, and do it again. Then go back another two feet, and so on, until you're about 15 feet out. Remember, a miss means you have to start over from that distance. This isn't an easy drill, but when you get good at it, you'll have distance control—and believe me, you'll make a ton more putts.
Another benefit is, you'll become a better green-reader. Why? Because you can't really pick a line until you know what speed you're going to roll the ball. Get your speed right, and you'll see your lines more clearly. You'll develop a feel for combining speed and break—and that's what great putters do.
Michael Breed operates his academy at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in New York City.
HOW TO PRACTICE PLAYING BETTER
I just launched a new series for the Golf Digest Schools video library called "Michael Breed's Playbook." The concept is that most golfers don't practice in ways that make them better on the course. A playbook in other sports contains strategies that players rehearse over and over to get ready for games.
My playbook for golf will organize your practice, so you're developing skills you use when you play. This is something I always work on with my students, and now you can do it, too. Stop beating balls and wondering why you don't shoot lower scores. Check out my new series, and all the other great content in the Golf Digest Schools, at golfdigest.com/allaccess.