Tip #1 Fringe Drill for Fine Putting

Banana-PatternHere are two facts about putting: most people do not aim their body and putter where they think they do; and most people struggle to properly read and adjust for the slope of the green. But here’s another fact: despite their problems getting aligned and playing the break (directional control), golfers generally miss the speed of the putt (distance control) with an error three to five time worse than their direction!

In other words, as bad as we tend to be when it comes to alignment and directional issues, we are much worse at controlling the speed or distance of our putts.

In the short-game, and especially putting, golfers see the greatest improvement by developing very good distance control. If I give an average player several putts to a hole, a definite pattern emerges–what I call the “cigar” pattern, or if there’s some break to the putt, the “banana” pattern. What the pattern shows is that the direction of the putts is pretty good, and very consistent. But the pattern is stretched out near to far, like a cigar or banana, suggesting the speed of the putts was not accurate or consistent.

To improve the distance control is to improve the putting, so I usually recommend the fringe drill for putting. By putting to the fringe line on the green with multiple balls, golfers become focused on the aspect of the putt they most need to improve–the speed. And they get the repetitions that help them develop “feel”.

I recommend doing this drill uphill and downhill, with long putts and short ones so that the golfer’s brain stores “data” about various putts, and how much swing it takes to stroke putts of various distances. My junior golfers play this as a game, earning three points each time the ball comes to rest on the fringe line, and one point each time the ball comes to rest on the first half of the fringe (no points for short putts, or excessively long putts).

Over time, as a golfer turns the cigar pattern into a more horizontal pattern, or a small circle around his target by controlling the speed of his putts, he will have fewer three-putts and see more putts fall after the first stroke.


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