When it comes to being an efficient player on the putting green, there are two important elements you must develop, the line and the pace. Judging these two factors comes from experience and feel that can be developed on the practice green.
First, let’s talk about line. Every putt should be treated as a straight putt. Even if it’s a breaking putt, it is a straight putt until the ball begins to break. This spot just before the ball breaks is your intermediary target. Note that this target is very important to your alignment as well. You should align the putter face square to the target first and then set your feet parallel to this line. This ensures that you are hitting a straight putt on the intended line you chose. This also builds a solid routine in which you are lining up accurately each time you putt. You can develop hitting straight putts with a simple drill:
TEE DRILL – Place a tee 3 feet away on a flat surface. Practice just hitting the tee in which you are hitting a straight putt. You can increase this distance up to 6 feet, which will pinpoint your accuracy even further. This will allow you to pick spots/targets on the green while playing and rolling a ball straight to this target.
Secondly, the pace is all feel and can be developed as an instinctive read. A good pace would leave the ball just past the hole at about 18 inches, this pace allows the ball to hold its line. You can develop your pace or distance control with another simple drill.
DISTANCE CONTROL DRILL-Start at the hole, take two paces away then drop a ball, two more paces drop a ball etc. Continue this up to 10 paces away (five balls total). Start closest to the hole and putt each ball looking at the hole with your head on a swivel while maintaining your posture. After each putt, give your self feedback only on the pace. Repeat until you can leave each putt 12” to 18” past the hole. Therefore, your practice strokes during your routine will now be geared towards feeling the appropriate stroke for the pace needed and the distance control becomes instinctual with your eyes.
Try these two drills and then start giving yourself random putts to test your development and instinct. By mastering these two factors you will give the ball a chance to drop in from 6 to 60 footers or leaving yourself simple tap ins.
Justin Blazer, Certified Instructor Marriott Golf Academy