Golf Putting Distances

By far the most difficult distance to control is the distance of your putts. With the full swing, you will know to within a few yards where your ball will land, assuming you hit the ball well. So the accuracy is about 5%. With a 20 foot putt, you can hit the ball well, and still end up 10 feet from the hole, an error of 50%! And on fast sloping greens, even professionals make mistakes like this. You might have noted that when professionals make mistakes like this, it is distance they get very wrong, not the line to the ball. In this case, what is true for professionals is also true for amateur golfers, so it is really important to work on being able to hit your putts the correct distance.

Here are some tips on how to improve the distance control of your putts.

  1. You need to gain a feel for just how hard to hit the ball. Your aim is to land within three feet of the hole, no matter how long the putt. If you can do this, you will almost always have two putts. Use a drill where you hit ten balls and have eight out of ten of them land within three feet of the hole. Start ten feet from the hole, and when you get to eight out of ten, go to 20 feet, and thirty feet. You can then start again, but aim to get nine out ten within the three feet of the hole. Three feet is important because from this distance you should sink the put almost everytime.
  2. For a long putt, aim for the hole, not for 1.5 feet past the hole. Aiming past the hole works for short putts where it makes it more likely that the ball will roll in, and you are not likely to miss by more than the magic three feet. But for long putts, aiming 1.5 feet past the hole will cause many more putts to end up more than three feet from the hole. The cost benefit is on the side of aiming for the hole for the longer putts. To work out what distance you should stop aiming past the hole, just ask yourself what distance are you pretty sure you will end up within 1.5 feet of the hole. Suppose the answer is 8 feet. If you aim past the hole at a distance further than 8 feet, then you will start to end up with putts further than 3 feet from the hole, leaving you with that wrenching, three putt feeling.
  3. You should trust your suconscious. By all means study the green, work out the likely path, judge how fast the ball is likely to go, but once you stand ready to putt, forget all that, just concentrate on your target, and let your subsconscious take over.
  4. Make sure you maintain a light grip. If you grip too hard you are likely lose your feel and the ball will often go too far. For short to medium putts, your grip should be very light, for longer puts, it should be firm but not tight.

On this page, we are using feet as the units of measurement, because many golfers, even in metric countries, still use feet and inches for the distance of putts. If you would like to have this page use metric units, please provide us with feedback.