How to Judge Putting Distance
How frequently does your first putt go past the hole or come up too short and you three putt? If you’re a good putter, probably not that often. But no matter how good you are, it is easier to misjudge distance in large amounts than it is direction.
At every course, green speeds are different. You have to make adjustments on the go to keep putting distance under control. If you follow the four tips below, you’ll have a leg up on the competition and keep it to one and two putts on the green.
Use the practice green
Ever eat a free sample at the grocery store to see if you’ll like a new food? It’s not quite the same, but a putting green is the golf course equivalent of a free sample.
You can expect the practice green to be cut at the same level as the greens on the course. Because they are treated and cared for the same way as the rest of the course, a 10 minute warm up there will help you adjust to distance and save strokes.
Use what you learned on other holes
You get to the fourth hole and you’ve been consistently short on every putt so far. Your judgement is a little off. It’s not time to overreact, but you need to react.
Take the hint from the previous holes and hit your next putt a little harder. If the theme from the previous few holes holds true, you will have made the necessary adjustment to judge the putt distance correctly.
If you hit the ball too far, reign it back in. If you’re still short, add a little more to the next putt. Take what you learn from each putt and apply it to the next.
Pay attention to grain
Putts with the grain go faster than putts against the grain. Grain pretty much means if there will be more or less resistance when the ball rolls toward the hole.
Rub your hand across the green (lightly, we don’t want to mess anything up) If your hand runs smoothly, you’re going in the direction of the grain. If there’s resistance, that’s how you know your movement was against the grain.
The longer the greens, the more grain matters. When grass has the opportunity to grow sideways, grain becomes more relevant. If you’re at a course where the greens are cut very low, grain plays less of a roll because the grass is too short to matter much.
Watch other people in the group
You’re five feet inside the person currently putting and on the same line. This means you get to see which way the putt breaks. It also means you can see how quick the putt is and how it rolls.
If the putt takes off once it gets past the hole, aim to get the ball just to the hole. If it levels off and the person putting comes up short, you know that putting it a foot by is fine because it only goes that one foot by.
Final note about judging putts
All of this helps, but you need to take the stroke-control yourself and practice. The only way to learn to judge putting distance is practice. When you’re on the putting green before a round, work on putting it one foot past the hole. If you make the putt, that’s great. But your misses will benefit you as well.
You don't have much time to practice at the driving range? Practice your putting at home with this simple tips and drills: https://www.golf-madness.com/blog/how-can-i-practice-putting-at-home