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Putting Practice to Judge Distance

The two keys to successful putting are distance and accuracy. I would say that accuracy is slightly easier to practice and improve as the direction your putter face is pointing will directly dictate where the ball goes. After you are consistently hitting the ball straight, changing the direction the ball goes is simply a matter of rotating your body. Reading greens however, which has a major impact on accuracy, is a different story. But, the fact remains that you can be the most accurate putter in the world, but without a good judgement of distance, it will go to waste.

Think about it, how many times per round when you're putting do you hit the ball and it stops at the EXACT distance of the cup, but it's just off left or right by a few inches? Probably not very often... Most of the time you may have a decent line, but the ball stops short of the cup or goes way passed it. This is the result of poor distance judging.

Being able to judge distance and change your swing accordingly is the most important aspect of successful putting. If you can judge distance and then change the power of your swing to accomodate how far away the cup is, you're on your way to becoming a great putter. By correctly judging distance you give the ball more of a chance to naturally roll along and follow the contours of the green.

Practicing distance control is difficult, if not distracting, if you are on a practice green or putting at an actual hole. The reason is that you will probably become more focused on accuracy rather than judging distance as you try to land the ball in the cup. Instead, a great drill is to practice on a green, and set distance markers. This can be accomplished by using duct tape, or pieces of string. Create 3 to 5 foot sections and lay them down horizontally on the green. Place the first piece about 10 feet away, and then each additional piece 5 to 10 feet further away up to 40 or 50 feet. Now, try hitting 5 balls and get them to stay within each section. Without a cup to aim at, you can focus solely on distance.

This drill will help isolate distance control as the most important factor in your putting swing. If you practice this often, you will be able to "see" the lines on a real green while you're playing, and place the cup at the correct distance. Once you are able to better judge distance while putting your missed putts will be closer to the cup, and your accuracy will improve.

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