Slow your Roll: Tips to Control Putting Speed

Dan Gold
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Pick Your Putting Speed Strategy

There are many ways to put a golf ball on a course. Each person will find different solace with different putting strategies, and you will do best when you find the one that fits your playing style best.

Some people want the ball to roll as much as possible. This generally leads to softer contact with the ball and a straight putt down the middle of the green.

Others want the ball to roll as little as possible. Their stroke ends with the club face open at impact. This leads to more lift and a ball that runs more. This stroke generally leads to more misses off to the right or left of the target line.

You want to pick a stroke that leads to the ball rolling as you want it to start. If you are a good putter, you should be able to choose a speed of start you are comfortable with and then make the ball go that direction.

If you are not a good putter, try to build your ability. For example, perfecting speed control with the ball is the first step in quickly learning to putt straight.

Get on the putting green and start with a ball that stops on your line.

Trickle Approach

To slow down the speed of your putting, make shorter and shallower backswing and have your arms move away from your body. Here are a few tips and drills that will help you to achieve and maintain control over your putting speed.

Standing on a short putting mat, practice taking a slow and short backswing. Make sure your hands are well ahead of your body with your arms moving away from your body. This will give you a good feel for how a slow and short backswing feels like.

Practice this drill with a couple of different length putters from 6 to 14 inches.

You may also practice using the same length of putter with the same length backswing but, this time, make a very shallow backswing by moving your hands only a few inches away from your chest.

Once you have a good feeling of the slow backswing, move to the next drill.

Stand on a mat with the line of the putterface held tight behind your feet. Make a smooth and slow backswing to get the ball rolling towards the hole.

Standing on the mat will give you a sense of how to make a slow and short backswing without letting the putter sway and set itself in the line to the hole.

The shallower backswing should ideally allow you to make a much smoother stroke while keeping the ball inside the hole.

Hit it Firm Approach

Some of us are consistently rolling too hard and some of us consistently don’t roll hard enough, and no matter what we end up with short putts leave us frustrated.

One reason for this inconsistency is that it’s often hard to notice how hard our putting surfaces are. A slight breeze can change the length of roll, and sometimes a slight incline or decline on the green can easily surprise us.

The best solution to this problem is to take advantage of your putting green, and determine how fast the surface is by rolling a few balls on it. Then mark the distance in inches or centimeters off a fixed point.

For example, in a 9-hole course, you might point to a single brick or pole in the distance or a fence post. That way, you’ll be able to tell how your putting surface compares to the greens on the course.

How to Use Both For the Proper Putting Speed

A lot of golfers have bad habits with respect to their putting speeds. Some of the most common putting errors include:

Swinging the putter too fast:

Swinging the putter too fast is a very common putting error, especially among newer players. As a matter of fact, swing speed is the number one complaint from beginners about their putting, usually with regards to distance.

Swinging your putter too fast places excessive, uncontrollable speed on the ball. The best way to avoid putting at too fast a speed is to take your time and think through each putting stroke. Slow down and take your time to avoid putting with too much speed.

Having too much motion:

Another way to get more distance on your putting is to minimize motion for better control. This is especially true on downhill putts where compensating for speed by overswinging can ruin the line of your putt.

Using the wrong technique:

The putting stroke itself can be the biggest enemy of your putting consistency and accuracy. If you have a limited skillset when putting, you may not be able to execute the proper stroke.

Putting Speed on Different Length Putts

One of the things that frustrates golfers the most when it comes to putting is their putting speed, or how fast is their golf ball rolling when making a putt.

Most golfers have different putting speeds, depending on the situation, but ultimately, the preferred speed is when you’re within about 3 to 6 inches from the cup.

That’s why it comes as no surprise that when practicing, you should be trying to get your golf ball closer to the hole, one way or another.

The good news is that you have a couple of tactics you can use to slow your putting speed to start off a putt, finish a putt or even when making a practice putt.

There is no single best putting speed. Different situations require different putting speeds.

So how do you control that speed?

Keep on reading to learn how to control your putting speed and consistently make the putts you want.

Short Putts

A good putt starts off with proper address. To start, stand square to the ball with your feet shoulder width apart. Then, place the ball in the cup as you would when you would normally putt. If you are right handed, you should place the ball to the right side of the hole and vice versa for lefties. Place the putter behind the ball with the handle held in the proper stance. Grip the putter with a grip similar to a grip you would use when you are golfing. For short putts, grip pressure should be light and your left arm should rest naturally on top of your right arm.

Next, swing the putter back and forth target the hole in slow motion before swinging forward. Make sure each swing motion is slow and controlled. The slower your swing, the more accurate your putt will be. At the start of the forward swing, your left arm should be straight and on top of your right. Bring the putter through the ball and follow through into the non-stance position. This will help to add consistency and accuracy and allow for better putt reading.

Finally, hold the back of the ball with your thumb as you putt. This will ensure that you do not hit the ball in front of the hole. A good stroke feels smooth and is not jerky. When you see that you are putting well, you can aim to putt the ball in the hole.

Middle Length Putts

If you are trying to hit a middle length putt and not getting the speed right, there are a couple of things that could be causing the problem.

For example, if your putter has too much loft, it won’t fall on the ball at a fast speed like many amateurs try to do.

You may end up overshooting instead. In this scenario, try reducing the loft and see if that makes a difference.

If that isn’t the issue, check the shaft alignment and the grip. When applying force, make sure your putter is aligned properly to the centre of the ball.

Next, make sure you have a proper grip. A strong grip is required to make a good putt. Another thing to check is the grip pressure. If you aren’t holding on to the club tightly enough, it might cause the club to twist and lose control.

When learning how to make a good putt, learn how far to stand away from the ball, just how much force to apply, and how much to move the putter head back and forth. If you are making one after the other, I suggest you seek assistance from a professional.

Long Range Putts (30+ Feet)

The most efficient way to roll the ball is to keep your head down and to your line of aim and roll the ball slower than you may think.

Your slow rolling will help you be on top of the ball and to keep up with your line.

With longer putts, slow your roll down to the point where the ball rolls off the top of the putter face.

You should be actively thinking about the roll as you stand over the putt.

For the proper roll, you need to ensure that you’re clear on the look of the intended line, you’re standing square to the target, the weight is in your heels, and the putter is almost touching your sternum.

Final Thoughts on Controlling the Speed of your Putts

There’s a saying in sports that goes it doesn’t matter how fast you run, only how fast you get there. Golf is no different.

Putting well, like all golf skills, comes down to feel and touch. The only way to improve it is to practice. The key is to develop the confidence to go at whatever speed it takes to get the job done.

For some of you, that will mean taking a bit more time to putt at short distances. For others, it will mean more speed. But it’s up to you to find the right balance.

And the longer you wait to develop the touch to putt with whatever speed you want, the longer it will take you to sink a putt. So get out on the putting green, and work on managing speed.

It’s the only way to get it right. Once you figure out what works for you, you can then apply your learnings to your playing game.