One of the more common challenges players have with their putting is how to consistently control their distance. The goal of every player should be to take no more than two putts on every green. Hitting the ball solidly and with control with your irons will help get you close to the hole, as will a good wedge game. But no matter how good you are with your other clubs you still have to get the ball in the hole.
The first step when you are faced with any putt is to take some time to read the green. Which way will the ball break? Are you putting uphill or downhill? The answers to these questions will determine your aim and how hard you need to hit the ball.
Technically there are two factors that are crucial to generating a good holing speed. The first is ensuring you make consistently solid contact with your putter. Be sure you take a solid address position and keep your head and body very still as you stroke the putt. This will ensure the putter head swings back to strikes the ball in the middle of the putter face.
The second factor is that distance is varied by stroke length. The longer the putt the longer your stroke will need to be. There is no set formula that will tell you how far back you need to swing the putter for a certain length putt as this will vary depending on whether the putt is uphill or downhill, the green is wet or dry or the greens are slow or fast. You need to develop a feel for distance putting and the Ladder Drill is perfect for this.
Place a club on the ground two feet behind the hole. Then place five tees in the ground. One each at 3 feet, 6 feet, 9 feet, 12 feet and 15 feet. While your ultimate goal is for the ball to go in the hole, your ideal holing speed would be if the ball finishes beyond the front edge of the cup but stops rolling short of the club on the ground.
Using four balls start from three feet where your objective is to make one putt. For every ball that doesn’t go in it must finish beyond the front of the cup but short of the club on the ground. For every ball that doesn’t finish in the defined acceptable range, you must make one additional putt. Repeat this at six feet.
At nine feet your goal is still to make one putt, but now you only have to make one extra putt for every second ball that finishes outside the acceptable range. Repeat this again at twelve feet and fifteen feet. Your objective is to count how many putts it takes for you to complete the drill and try to lower that score each time you practice your putting.
This is a great drill for working on ideal holing speeds for short to mid-range putts. It also gets you thinking about making putts and working on a consistent pre-shot routine. It will build confidence and by working on this drill for a few weeks you will see some significant improvement on the course as well.