By Rich O’Brien
One of the most important things that a player must learn to do is be able to control the distance of their putts. I use a slightly modified ladder drill to teach students how to putt that limits the variables of their putting stroke.
From 1 foot away from the hole: Starting with a stance about 8 inches wide stroke balls into the hole from 1-2-3-4-5 feet. The putting stroke should always be a smooth pendulum from the back foot to the front foot. I recommend that 80-90% of your weight is their front foot as this is an excellent way to keep their shoulders level.
From 10 feet away from the hole: Widen the stance with the right foot by about 4 inches to about one foot apart. With this drill, the goal is to roll ALL three balls to the hole or within 18 inches past the hole.
From 20 feet follow the exact same procedure except the player should continue widening their stance by an additional four inches. We widen only the back foot in order to keep the ball position with the front foot consistent. Again the stroke length will be from back foot to front foot. The ball should roll ten extra feet simply because we have additional kinetic energy created by increasing the length of the pendulum by four inches. This time the goal is to roll ALL three balls to the hole or within two feet past the cup.
From 30 feet we simply widen the stance by an additional four inches to about 20 inches apart. The goal for the drill from 30 feet is to roll ALL three balls within three feet of the hole.
From 40 and 50 feet: As we continue to move farther away from the hole (out to 40 feet and then 50 feet) simply increase the length of the pendulum by widen the stance four additional inches at a time. At forty feet the width of the stance should be about two feet. The goal from these distances is to roll ALL three balls within four to five feet past the hole.
Once completed, it is important to then change directions and putt from the opposite grain and slope as the original putts. With practice golfers tend to realize that 50 foot downhill, downgrain putt might only require 20 feet of stroke compared to a flat putt. Conversely, an uphill into the grain putt from 30 feet might require the same stroke as a 50 foot flat putt.
Summary: What I like about this method is that the ONLY variable in the putting stroke that changes is the length of the pendulum; every other variable remains constant. The net result from using this simple putting system has been that my students have greatly improved their distance and speed control which, in many cases, has reduced their handicaps considerably.
About the Author
Rich O’Brien is mental performance coach and the co-author with Fred Gutierrez of the book Half Paralyzed, Twice Strong which is now available on Amazon. The book has been called the most inspirational golf story in the past 40 years.