Best Practices – Annie Barker

Never Putt without Knowing the Distance You’re Putting From

Annie Barker Best PracticesOur putting game contributes the most strokes out of any other shot in golf but most amateur golfers do not practice enough or simply don’t know how to practice their putting. Most players think it is boring to practice their putting or they have a false sense of what makes us a good putter. As professionals we all hear the same thing over and over again, “Well my putting is pretty good, I just need help with my swing”. When we investigate a bit further we usually find that these players do in fact need help with their putting and in some cases they need a lot of help.

The typical “practice” we witness day after day is to drop a few balls on the putting green and roll the ball around aimlessly until a few drop in the hole. Once this happens the player has a sense of “I’m good” and they are then off to the driving range or the first tee. Once out on the golf course these players are faced with now preforming this seemingly easy task but usually crumble under pressure. I can speak from experience because I was once this player!

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received from a very well know golf educator was “Never putt without knowing the distance your putting from”. This is a simple idea and concept but this is what separates the great players from everyone else. In my experiences as soon as I say this to a player and ask them to repeat this statement back to me, the player quickly starts to realize that they do not have a good grasp on distance and especially controlling those distances.  No matter what type of drill we are implementing for our players, I feel there needs to be a huge emphasis on distance and being able to recognize these distances visually. If a player can walk up and while marking their ball, quickly calculate the distance of the putt, they will be more likely able to learn from the putt instead of just rolling it and hoping for the best!!

Distance Drill: We are all familiar with the ladder drill. This will get a player to adjust and adapt to different distances while also helping them recognize these distances visually. I start them with short distances and then increase the distances (10, 20 and 30 feet etc..) until they establish a feel. Then I will test their visual perception to make sure they have a grasp on the distance. I challenge them to then close their eyes and roll the putt. They must tell me if they think it is short, long, right and/or left! This builds confidence and works great for all skill levels!

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