Improve Putting Distance Control
How I DONT teach distance control.
by Peter Ledwidge – Master Mind Factor Coach & Level III Senior Aimpoint Instructor
I have seen many videos and read many an article on this subject. I was motivated to write this particular article because in the golf circles I move in it is something of a “hot topic”. We can teach players how to improve their technique, we can even predict very accurately what the ball will do once we set it in motion and we can teach players how to do this for themselves. If only we could figure out a way of teaching them how to control the distance they hit their putts? A sound technique and a great read are not enough, we need to hit the putt at the correct speed to make it, or at least get it to gimmie range.
In Nov ´12 I attended the Aimpoint Instructors Conference where we (arguably a collection of europe´s best green readers) were challenged by Mark Sweeney to come up with a way to teach distance control in putting. A couple of weeks later I became a Master Mind Factor Coach after spending time in the company of europe´s leading mind coach Karl Morris. I have been testing my theories and drills with students of all ages and abilities ever since. Complete beginners to tour players, the results continue to convince me that I am doing it the right way.
Human beings are already fantastic at controlling distance, we have an innate ability to control distance that we are born with. We dont need to teach players how to control distance because they are already brilliant at it! We need to help them understand that and trust it. I do this by chipping away at all the accumulated “debris” that is hiding the fact and let them see it for themselves.
I start by asking them a couple of questions like;
- When was the last time you crashed into the car in front of you?
- What other sports do you play?
- How is your distance control with them?
I then get them to throw a golf ball to me as I vary the distance between us, without exception every client throws the ball the correct distance every time.
The tennis player is not thinking about controlling distance when he throws the ball up to serve. The cricketers or baseball players can throw a ball to each other with amazing accuracy. Basketball players can find a hoop with regularity, WHY? Basically because the resistance of the air is pretty much the same wherever they play. The ball is pretty much the same whenever they hold it in their hands. Nothing varies much except the distance they need to throw or pass the ball through the air and the air resistance is always pretty much the same.
Putting is different, there is a variable involved in putting that we dont encounter in the other examples – THE GREEN. Your brain NEEDS information about the green. In particular the speed of the green and the slopes the ball will encounter on its journey. Once the brain has been supplied with the information it needs it will quickly process it and get on with doing what it does best, controlling distance.
To give the brain the information it requires on the speed of the green and to start convincing them that they already have what it takes to control distance I do the following two drills with my clients. ALWAYS using only ONE ball.
- Putt to a hole (20ft or so), close your eyes after hitting the ball and then call it Long or Short. Open your eyes and check the result.
- Putt to the center of the green, close your eyes after impact and call out loud NOW as the ball comes to a stop. Two people are required for this drill as the player needs to be told if they call early or late.
These two drills serve to help give the brain the information it needs about the speed of the green for that day. Other information that the brain needs is about the line of the putt. This is where Aimpoint Express comes in, stop guessing and learn to read the green properly based on facts. It is a fact that the putt only breaks because the ball is tilted to one side or another. If you can assess the % of slope that is tilting your ball then that you can predict very accurately what the ball is going to do.
I DONT teach players how to control distance when putting, I teach them how to read greens properly, how to tune their “feel” to the speed of the greens they putt on and convince them that they already have the ability to control distance and encourage them to trust in it. It works!