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Can Putting Distance Control Be More Systematic?


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After a quick 21-putt 9 holes in the Chicago cold yesterday, I found myself again frustrated with my poor distance control while putting.

I’ve put in indoor putting practice time on improving my setup and stroke and have seen a definite improvement in my putting start lines.

However, with limited space I have not been able to dedicate much time to distance control and that has always been a weakness.

With partial wedges, many (myself included) have a system based on clubs & backswing lengths. With full swings I know approximate carry yardage buckets for all my clubs. And I have a golf watch to tell me exactly how far I am from the center of the green.

Putting - I have rarely ever seen someone pace off a putt to know the exact distance to the hole. 

And the prevailing advice for putting (and short chips) is to rely on feel and practice to hone it in - curious whether:

1. Anyone uses or has tried a sort of system for this? 

2. Why the prevailing wisdom here differs so much from other golf skills, where technique is a primary target for improvement rather than feel/skills.

I was considering experimenting with a few different putting backswing checkpoints to have some benchmarks I can refer to. Obviously, you would need to adjust to green speeds and slopes day-to-day but if the tempo of your stroke remained relatively consistent I think it could work.

 

So it goes.

 

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58 minutes ago, Seeking70s said:

After a quick 21-putt 9 holes in the Chicago cold yesterday, I found myself again frustrated with my poor distance control while putting.

I’ve put in indoor putting practice time on improving my setup and stroke and have seen a definite improvement in my putting start lines.

However, with limited space I have not been able to dedicate much time to distance control and that has always been a weakness.

With partial wedges, many (myself included) have a system based on clubs & backswing lengths. With full swings I know approximate carry yardage buckets for all my clubs. And I have a golf watch to tell me exactly how far I am from the center of the green.

Putting - I have rarely ever seen someone pace off a putt to know the exact distance to the hole. 

 

 

You can work on distance using the same idea as your partial wedges.  You said you had a system, why not use it for putting?  If you pull your wedge back to 7:30 you know how far it will go. Use the same idea for your putter.  Practice distances if you pull the putter back to 7:30, 8:30....

 

I'm sure someone with more experience will chime in but another word of advice.. use the same ball, don't mixed types of golf balls.

 

Good luck

From the land of perpetual cloudiness.   I'm Denny

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You can learn that a 12" backswing hits the ball x feet on flat ground, etc. but…

Most likely, you're taking the putter back too slowly and thus too short, and then accelerating through the ball too much.

Learning proper/good distance control is often a mechanical thing, and you CAN work on that in as little a space as four or five feet (because you can just hit putts into a stack of books or a pillow or something).

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Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instruction Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins
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I'll tell you what has helped me. 

  1. Get something like Shotscope and be diligent about entering your putts and the flag locations. 
    1. You more likely to improve in an area you are measuring. 
    2. Lots of people (myself included) think they are good or bad at something but find out things are different when they start measuring it. 
  2. Develop a standard putt. This can be done indoors, even if it rolls too far for your putting mat. Just stick a pillow there. Don't worry about the distance on your mat. Just develop a standard putt. The most comfortable and repeatable putt you can possibly hit. 
    1. When you get to a course hit your standard putt a few times. Don't aim at a hole, just hit your standard putt and pace off how far it goes. Ideally on a flat spot, then an uphill spot and a downhill spot if you have time. Pace those off. My standard putt is often around 12 paces on many greens. 
    2. Then when I'm playing if I have to hit a 12 paces putt on a flat green I know what to do. Plus its not too hard to adjust up a bit or down a bit for 10 to 15 paces and what not. 
  3. If you want to take it further, develop a mini-standard putt. I have one that's usually a 6 footer.
    1. Then when I have a 6 footer I know what to do.
    2. Again, it's not too hard to adjust a bit for 4 footers and 8 footers. 

So, develop a standard putt. The most comfortable, repeatable putt possible. When you get to the course see how far that standard putt rolls. You can make adjustments from there. (Just think how confident you'll be if you end up faced with "your standard putt" on the course. Then if you'd like, develop a 6 footer stroke. Those two will get you through most situations that are at all makable. Remember to measure and/or chart your improvement. 

PS > Shot scope tells me I improved about 3 stokes using the above method. 👍😁👍

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My bag is an ever-changing combination of clubs. 

A mix I am forever tinkering with. 

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Thank you everyone! This is all very helpful.

I definitely do take my putter back too slowly so I’ll get to work on that, thank you @iacas.

@ChetlovesMer love the “standard putt” idea. I think I’ll feel much more confident over lag putts with some sort of reference point.

So it goes.

 

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8 hours ago, Seeking70s said:

@ChetlovesMer love the “standard putt” idea. I think I’ll feel much more confident over lag putts with some sort of reference point.

I have to credit @iacas on that. He's the one who showed that to me. 

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My bag is an ever-changing combination of clubs. 

A mix I am forever tinkering with. 

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I couldn't get a real systematic system to work for me, but two things that helped that I don't see enough people do:

  1. Look at the cup (or where you want to putt a downhill putt to) and take 1-2 practice swings while fixating on your target. It helps your brain adjust your swing. I see so many people look at the cup and then put their head down and take their practice swing.
  2. Long before Arccos I used an online/manual version to record my shots and got in the habit of walking from my ball to the cup before I putted.  This was to measure the putt for my shot tracking, but in reality it really helps me to a better feel for the putt that is needed. Admittedly I'm somewhat doing math in my head of this is 30 feet severely uphill, but I know that when I'm playing in a hurry and I don't walk to the cup it shows in my putting.
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On 2/24/2024 at 2:08 PM, Seeking70s said:

I was considering experimenting with a few different putting backswing checkpoints to have some benchmarks I can refer to. Obviously, you would need to adjust to green speeds and slopes day-to-day but if the tempo of your stroke remained relatively consistent I think it could work.

Bryson does this. 


Before every round Bryson DeChambeau gets his putting distance control calibrated using a simple drill. He talked about it at the 2020 PGA Championship.

 

Driver: :callaway: Rogue Max ST LS
Woods:  :cobra: Darkspeed LS 3Wood/3Hybrid
Irons: :tmade: P770 (4-PW)
Wedges: :callaway: MD3 50   MD5 54 58 degree  
Putter: :odyssey:  White Hot RX #1
Ball: :srixon: Z Star XV

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7 minutes ago, klineka said:

Bryson does this. 


Before every round Bryson DeChambeau gets his putting distance control calibrated using a simple drill. He talked about it at the 2020 PGA Championship.

 

I was going to mention this. His youtube videos he's always talking about his putt distances. He's got all the way up to 100+ feet calibrated. But then he does all sorts of calculations on the fly, so he says things like "it's 41 feet, but it's 2% uphill, so that's playing 74 feet. 74 feet is hands to right hip pocket" and off he goes. I'm making up the 74 feet and the right hip pocket bits - I don't know exactly how those pan out and the article doesn't seem to expand on that. 

I'm also in a similar position to OP - I want to work on my distance control, but it's hard to get to a spot where I can hit putts longer than about 10 feet at the moment (winter). I'm thinking about getting an Exputt, but I don't really see how that's going to help all that much if I don't subsequently start pacing off my putts and I'm not sure I want to do that. It seems over the top. I guess it would help me to learn to control speed and then that would hopefully translate to on the course, but it's expensive to test that.

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A few things that I do in attempt to do this:

  • On the practice green, I hit 3 putts, trying to hit them all the same distance. I am not looking at where the putts finish until after putting all 3. I then walk off how long those balls ended up. That gives me a rough estimate of how fast greens are running.
  • On the course, I walk my putts so I can know how long they are. But the point is to get a better sense for how long a putt is and then I can calibrate putts on the course. Like if I have a putt that's 8 steps away on the first hole, then I'll know from then on approximately how fast that 8-step putt is. Or I know I need to add 2 steps, etc. I think this helps. I can also do this pretty easily while getting an AimPoint read.
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To touch on the value of Shot Scope that @ChetlovesMer mentioned is one of the stats it gives you is an average of first putt distance. Of course it's based off approaches as well as a pitch or chip, but anyways that is a good reference for a place to start. It will also give you your make % based on various distances, 0-3ft, 3-9ft and so forth. Look at your first putt average, then the % you make at that range then go to work.  My average first putt distance is 15ft with 75% make. But total across the board I'm leaving putts short 78% of the time. I think a little of that is GPS but I have statistical evidence that I leave putts short. And stats don't lie. So. I for one need to work on distance control. 

 :tmade: Stealth2 driver, 3 hybrid. :ping: G410 Fairway  :titleist: 5-AW  :vokey: 52/56/60 SM9

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2 hours ago, snapfade said:

My average first putt distance is 15ft with 75% make.

You make 75% of your 15ft putts?

When PGA tour average from 10-15' last season was 30.81%?

Driver: :callaway: Rogue Max ST LS
Woods:  :cobra: Darkspeed LS 3Wood/3Hybrid
Irons: :tmade: P770 (4-PW)
Wedges: :callaway: MD3 50   MD5 54 58 degree  
Putter: :odyssey:  White Hot RX #1
Ball: :srixon: Z Star XV

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35 minutes ago, klineka said:

You make 75% of your 15ft putts?

When PGA tour average from 10-15' last season was 30.81%?

Lol.. guessing he means getting it to the hole 

Vishal S.

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4 hours ago, klineka said:

You make 75% of your 15ft putts?

When PGA tour average from 10-15' last season was 30.81%?

Maybe he only hits 4.5 greens per round. When he hits the green he averages 48 feet from the hole. 

The other 13.5 greens he misses, but chips them to 4 feet, and makes all of his 4 footers. 

Therefore his average distance to the hole would be [(4.5 greens)(48 feet) + (13.5 greens)(4 feet)] / 18 greens = 15 feet. 

His make percentage would be 13.5/18 x 100% = 75%

.... Maybe? .... 😁

My bag is an ever-changing combination of clubs. 

A mix I am forever tinkering with. 

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6 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Maybe he only hits 4.5 greens per round. When he hits the green he averages 48 feet from the hole. 

The other 13.5 greens he misses, but chips them to 4 feet, and makes all of his 4 footers. 

Therefore his average distance to the hole would be [(4.5 greens)(48 feet) + (13.5 greens)(4 feet)] / 18 greens = 15 feet. 

His make percentage would be 13.5/18 x 100% = 75%

.... Maybe? .... 😁

Wow, Chicago's answer to Boston's Will Hunting!!

I mean, how does it come so easily to you??

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Vishal S.

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6 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Maybe he only hits 4.5 greens per round. When he hits the green he averages 48 feet from the hole. 

The other 13.5 greens he misses, but chips them to 4 feet, and makes all of his 4 footers. 

Therefore his average distance to the hole would be [(4.5 greens)(48 feet) + (13.5 greens)(4 feet)] / 18 greens = 15 feet. 

His make percentage would be 13.5/18 x 100% = 75%

.... Maybe? .... 😁

That would be pretty awesome. Tour players are just 81.6% from 4’!

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51 minutes ago, Clemsonfan said:

That would be pretty awesome. Tour players are just 81.6% from 4’!

Maybe he only plays in big cup tournaments? ... 😁

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My bag is an ever-changing combination of clubs. 

A mix I am forever tinkering with. 

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2 hours ago, Clemsonfan said:

That would be pretty awesome. Tour players are just 81.6% from 4’!

Not sure where you got that one. It's around 90%. Last full season was 92.6% tour average from 4' on the PGA Tour stats (https://www.pgatour.com/stats/detail/342) (which is 3'1" to 4'0").

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instruction Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins
Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 & "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 :edel: :true_linkswear:

Check Out: New Topics | TST Blog | Golf Terms | Instructional Content | Analyzr | LSW | Instructional Droplets

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