We have all experienced the frustration and embarrassment of leaving a putt woefully short…or on the contrary, blowing a putt well past the hole. When it comes to putting, I always ask my students what they think is more important; distance or direction? To avoid a long explanation, I will tell you that both are important, however; to become a more consistent putter, you must improve your distance (speed) control so that all putts have a chance of going into the cup.
One of my favourite drills that I use for my students and for myself is called the Horizontal-Shaft Drill;
Depending on the length of the putt, the slope of the green, and the general conditions of grain, place a club shaft at various distances behind the cup. You can do this on the practice green or when you play alone on the course, but because this is December in Alberta, you can do this on the carpet of your office or home…For a flat, ten-foot putt, I generally place the shaft eight inches behind the hole. I then ask the student to strike numerous putts, say fifty. For each putt that goes in the hole, or hits the shaft on the ground, the player gets one point. With that in mind, you would think winning is automatic. The kicker is, for any putt left short, you lose fifty points. This really gets you to focus on speed control. Being short is not an option. By the way, if you hit a putt so hard that it jumps the shaft on the ground, you lose 20 points. Therefore, you cannot blindly smash putts, either.
Practicing this drill will enhance your speed control, making you a more consistent putter, thus allowing you the opportunity to hole more putts! Give it a try, play well, and have fun!