I bet if you stood 10 feet away from me, you could easily toss me a golf ball and wouldn't be short or long with your throw. In fact, I bet you wouldn't think twice about how to do it. You'd subconsciously judge the distance and trust your ability. If it's so easy to toss a ball, why do so many people struggle with putting a golf ball the right distance?
Just like when one throws a ball, putting it the right distance is the result of referencing your past experiences. Putt a lot on greens of varying speeds and slope, and you'll likely be able to gauge the speed correctly. Haven't played in a while, and you may be a bit rusty with your distance control.
While practice may not always make perfect, it certainly helps. Another way to improve your distance control is to think of your putts as "tosses." For example, I like to limit the time between my last look at the hole (or my target) and the ball. As my head returns to the ball, I almost immediately start my stroke. That visual reference must stay fresh in my mind, so I'm reacting to my target, not the ball. It's a bit like how a basketball player shoots a free throw. He doesn't look at the ball, he looks at the back of the rim. He doesn't think about distance, he thinks about making it. And he does that by reacting naturally to his target.
|USE THE RIGHT PUTTER
There are a number of factors to consider when buying a putter. Length, face material and style of alignment aids are just three that come to mind. But one–head style–can completely alter your stroke shape.
Check out the photo above. I'm holding two putters: a blade and a mallet. Notice how each is angled a different way? The mallet faces straight up, while the blade tilts at an angle. (Mallets are "face balanced," whereas blades are heel-toe balanced.) If you prefer a straight-back and straight-through stroke, then a mallet is the right shape for you. If you like your stroke to arc from inside the target line to square to back inside the target line, then the blade is your putter of choice.
It's important to keep in mind that each putter style will naturally produce a type of stroke shape so you don't have to force it.
Wayne Allen, CPGA, is the head professional at Blomidon Golf Club in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada. Visit him at wayneallengolfacademy.com.