Golf

This is the ideal distance to practice your putts, says top teacher

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By practicing from this distance, you’ll dial in your touch on the greens.
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Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a new GOLF.com series in which we’re sharing improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they faced along the way.
One area that almost immediately shaves strokes off of a players game is improved putting. Problem is, spending hours on putting practice isn’t particularly all that fun, so lots of amateurs tend to just overlook it and hope for the best during the round.
Anyone who knows me can attest that I’m this type of player.
As someone who often runs late to a tee time, I’m usually the guy who meets on the first tee box a minute before we’re set to go off. Yes, I know it causes anxiety — both for myself and playing partners — but, more than anything, it also puts me behind the 8-ball when it comes to getting loose.
Sure, I can take practice swings with my driver or irons to loosen up, but once I’m on the putting surface, I’ve yet to see how the ball rolls on the greens or how my stroke should feel. Without knowing this, it doesn’t matter if I hit the green in regulation — ’cause there’s a good chance I’m either 2- or even 3-putting.
So here’s a reminder to those players like me: Take time for putting practice before a round!
Now that we’ve established the importance of doing so, you might be asking yourself about what drills and distances can help dial in your putting practice. To help with that, GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jim Murphy is here to help!
Below, Murphy suggests the ideal distance to practice putts from, which will go a long way in helping players get loose, read greens, and determine the speeds of putts. Take a look and try it out for yourself!
Most golfers have probably seen the stat about pros sinking 99% of putts within three feet — which is absolutely remarkable. And while those close ones make a huge difference in scores, Murphy thinks practicing putts from a much longer distance is the more effective way to improve.
“Many players [I watch practice] are just hitting putts from all different distances, hoping it will make them better on the course,” Murphy says. “But I think that practicing a longer putt helps a player get down their speed, green-reading, and aim.”
Next, Murphy shares some data regarding putting tendencies, saying that 32 feet is the magic number when it comes to the difference between a possible 2-putt and a 3-putt.
“32 feet is the break even point on the Tour where players average 2 putts,” he says. “Inside of that, players 1-putt more often than they 3-putt, and anything farther than that, they 3-putt more than they 1-putt.
“With that being said, I think practicing putts from this distance [32 feet] is ideal because it requires you to work on your speed control and aim. If you’re able to regularly 2-putt from this distance each time, your scores will drastically improve.”
Finally, Murphy provides a quick putting drill to try from 32 feet in order to work towards 2-putting from this long distance.
“Place three balls 32 feet from the hole, putting each of them without 3-putting,” he says. “Then move positions or to another practice hole, also placing three balls 32 feet from the cup; then repeat.
“This really helps with the pace of your stroke. If you have too much acceleration in your stroke, it will be hard to hit it the correct distance every time.”
By lengthening your putting practice to 32 feet, you’ll be able to dial in your lag putting, minimize the number of putts per round, and achieve lower scores. Let’s go get it!

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