Putting from long distance requires good feel, distance perception and a relaxed stroke. Many golfers find themselves 3 putting from long range, or leaving themselves with a tough second putt as their distance or line was out with the first attempt. It is important to let the body's natural distance perception take over, so here is my 3 step routine to help reduce the risk of 3 putting.
STEP 1 - Lining Up The Ball
This one may seem obvious but in my experience many golfers skip this first and very important step.
I always tell my pupils to line up the ball and club before they line up themselves, this means that once you take your position over the ball, you are aligned correctly and can trust your stroke. By doing this you are also making sure the ball starts along the correct line.
To make sure you are looking for the correct break of the green, get as low as possible behind the ball and look all the way along the ball to target line. Here many players only look towards the end of the putt, but the start is just as important as the end. Once you have determined your direction, change the position of the ball so that the line or logo is directed towards your chosen target.
STEP 2 - Visualising & Practice Strokes
Now the ball is aligned to the target it is time for the second step, determining the distance of the putt. This is an area which can be improved by regular practice, however you still need to have a routine in place to judge the correct distance.
Start by standing next to the ball and making a few practice swings, with your focus on the hole. What I mean by this is always keep your eyes focussed on the hole whilst you are making your practice stroke, this helps to create a feel and perception of the distance at the same time as focusing your mind on the shot. Repeat 3 to 5 practice strokes this way, making a mental note of how the swing feels.
STEP 3 - The Stroke
By this point you have chosen your line and also practiced the speed of the stroke, now it is time to make the shot. Align your putter with the direction of the ball, and simply try to re-create the stroke and sensation you felt in the practice swings. At this point try not to think about anything else, other than repeating the exact stroke and sensation you practiced.
This will make you feel more relaxed and comfortable when making your stroke and also helps to let your body's natural distance perception take over. The natural distance perception and feel is one of the most important tools you can utilise in long putting, which is the foundation to this tip.
You may need time to practice this before using it on the course as it can be difficult to let your mind forget about the distance when you make the stroke, just half an hour on the practice green should help to make this routine feel comfortable and natural.
This was something I noticed when watching great players putt from long range, to me they never seemed to focus on the ball in their practice and instead looked at the hole or target. For example if you were to throw a ball to a person you would always look at them to judge the distance the ball needs to travel, you would not look the other way, so why would a long putt be any different.
I then started to implement this routine into lessons with some of my pupils and found that they were more relaxed, comfortable and constant with long putts, resulting in the ball finishing closer to the hole and less three putts.
Try this out the next time you practice and let us know how it works for you by leaving a comment below or get in touch via the contact page.
Here are some of the longest putts holed from the 2015 season, what I found really interesting is just before each shot every player focuses on the hole/target as their last point of reference.