Distance Control in Putting

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Published: February 16, 2014

Distance control is one of the biggest problems we see amateurs struggle with on the green. They usually do fairly well getting the line right but, especially on the longer putts, many players really struggle with controlling their distance.

You want to get to where, if you do miss, you at least leave yourself an easy tap-in. One of the best ways to develop this control - and one that many golfers don't really understand - is to practice hitting putts with the right hand only.

Most golfers, especially if they're right handed, are much more coordinated and have a much better sense of feel with the right hand. When you practice making strokes with just the right hand, you develop an even greater sense of the feel of the club head.

Practice with the right hand onlyPractice putting with the right hand only to get a feel for the green

This is important because that's a major part of where you get your distance control.

When you put the left hand back into the stroke it serves as more of a guide, to stabilize the club face. It doesn't really do much in terms of feel and distance control.

Visiting a New Course? Try It Out!

When you go to a new course and want to get a feel for the greens, try some right hand only putting from different parts of the green.

Rather than just sticking to flat putts, find some uphill and downhill shots. Especially in Florida, you can get grainy greens that are much faster going downhill than they are going uphill.

Just step up and make a few little right-handed strokes to get a feel for the speed and distance of the green.

Make about 10 putts with just the right hand, until you feel like you've got a good sense for the pace of the putt. Once you have that, let the left hand back onto the club, but focus on maintaining that feel you've developed with the right hand.

If you bring the left hand back and let it get a death grip on the club, you'll obviously lose all the feel you've just worked to develop with the right. You need to be able to feel the weight of the club head in your right hand.

Maintain that feel with your right hand, then step up and make the same stroke with both hands on the club. The left hand will be present, but the right hand still has the greatest sensitivity, and that's what you'll use in your putting.

Then practice with both handsOnce the right hand has a feel for the green, bring the left hand back into the stroke

Don't Lose Your Good Form

Obviously, we're not recommending that you start getting handsy with the putter. You're still not using your hands in the stroke; you're just developing your sensitivity and using your sense of feel to help judge and control distance.

You're still rocking your shoulders. You're still keeping your hands quiet, but you're paying attention to the weight of the club head and how your right hand perceives it.

The next time you're on your home course, get out there and hit some right hand only putts.

You'll see a lot of Tour players doing the same thing. When Tiger Woods starts to work on his speed, he'll hit putts with just his right hand, watch them break, roll them...you can tell he's developing his feel. In fact, he's talked about getting a feel for the club head with just his right hand.

You can do the same thing. Hit 10 or 20 putts with the right hand. Work on it until you can get your distance fairly consistent. Then put your left hand back on there, make the same stroke, and see if your distance control doesn't improve.

Checkpoints for Practice

  • The right hand (especially in right handed golfers) is the source of most of your distance control in putting
  • Develop this sense of feel by practicing putts with the right hand only
  • Hit 10-20 putts, until you can achieve a consistent distance, then allow the left hand gently back onto the club
  • Maintain the right hand's sense of the weight of the club head, using the left for stability

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