Coming Up Short

July 01, 2019

"One pace helps control the face"

No one addresses a putt and thinks, I want to leave this short. Yet, it’s an epidemic in amateur golf. Revisit your last round. Of the 18 first putts you had (assuming you didn’t chip in or pocket your ball), how many of them reached the hole? If you said 16 or more, you can stop reading. You’re good. Any number less than that, and you probably could use some help.

So what’s the problem? I know you’re not scared of making more putts. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s your tempo; or should I say tempos? You’re changing the pace of your stroke from putt to putt so you can’t control how far the ball rolls.

You need to hit all putts at the same tempo—and not just any tempo. When using a metronome to gauge the speed of the stroke, studies have shown that most great putters swing the club back and through at a pace of 72 to 80 beats per minute. The only thing that changes to regulate distance is the length of their putting stroke.

If you want to get a feel for this pace, you can download a metronome app for your smartphone and practice while listening to the steady beat. But if you want to keep it low tech, just remember this: If you count to yourself: one, two, three, four, and take the putter back on three and swing it through on four, you’ve got the pro rhythm you need to control distance. --WITH RON KASPRISKE

SCOTT WICKHAM is a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher. He is director of instruction at Avila Golf & Country Club in Tampa.