The ability to control putterhead speed translates into the ability to control the speed of the ball and, ultimately, your ability to make more than your fair share of putts. If your control has become shaky, here's a two-part drill to help you get the ball rolling at the speed you desire.
Drop a coin on the practice green, then place a ball about 10 feet from the coin. Now, survey the terrain from the ball to the coin. Make note if it's an uphill, downhill or level putt. You should also note the break–is it straight or a left-to-right- or a right-to-left-breaking putt? Now, from behind or next to the ball, create a dynamic, mind's-eye picture of the speed necessary to get the ball to stop no further than one putterhead-length past the coin (about four and a half inches).
Your task is to roll three putts from the same distance and stop all three within the space of the putterhead behind the coin. You can place a coin one putterhead-length behind the first coin to help you visually judge the exact distance.
Before the first putt, adopt a plan that will ensure the accuracy of the golf ball's roll. For example, if the putt is uphill, you may want to adjust your focal point beyond the coin to adjust for the terrain. Some of my students like to ingrain a picture of the putt's last four feet of roll. Others simply focus on feel. Each of these methods, whether it's spot aiming, roll visualizing or feel focusing, uses the eyes to send signals to the brain to apply the necessary energy for the putt.
Your job is to find which type of focus best allows you to control speed. Use only one ball for the drill, and if successful, retrieve the ball and putt from the same spot. Ideally, you want three straight putts to end up as desired. If not, start over and keep working to find the best way (focus) to accomplish this task.
The next step is to add a foot to the length of the first putt. After each successful attempt, add another foot.
In the same manner you work to fine-tune your wedge game and full swing, so, too, should you fine-tune your putting stroke. If time permits, perform the above drill daily, always noting your progress and frequency. Soon, you'll find yourself draining those 15-footers.
Dr. Craig Farnsworth has worked with over 100 PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour players. He was a featured presenter at the 2000 PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit and frequently instructs on The Golf Channel. He operates the See & Score Golf School in La Quinta, Calif., and conducts clinics around the country. For more information, visit www.puttdoctor.com.