Putting Speed Control – The Speed Cake
A lot of golfers when they think speed control think about lag putting from distance when really a huge part of speed control relates to your ability to match speed to a line. Speed control is just as important at 8ft as it is at 30ft.
Every read requires a speed.
On certain putts, the ability to hit the right speed becomes the most important aspect the golfer has to master. There are many putts where you are afforded the least amount of error in speed. The slightest bit off in your speed is going to impact you more than the slightest bit off with your line or read.
So you can appreciate, training your speed control is a really important part of becoming a great putter. A nice analogy to think about how to develop great speed control is to think of a speed cake.
The Speed Cake
The foundation layer for speed control is good mechanics, you need reliable mechanics to be able to control the speed the club travels at. For example, if you don’t hit the ball out of the middle, you will lose energy through the strike, which will affect ball speed and distance. How you move your body will also affect how you move the putter and the ability to control the speed of it. For example, sudden movements with the wrist can massively impact angular speed which can often be hard to control for many golfers.
The next layer in your cake is rhythm and tempo, you need good rhythm and tempo to be able to develop efficient acceleration profiles so as to build up the energy in the right way. Poor rhythm and tempo makes timing the speed you want really difficult even with good mechanics.
Then finally the icing on the cake is developing touch and feel. Once you have sound mechanics and good rhythm and tempo, then training your touch and feel to improve your intuitive sense of distance and speed is where the mastery of the skill lies.
The Intentional Speed Drill
A great exercise to help build that touch and feel is what I call the intentional speed drill.
Here I would place a Visio phantom hole on the green then attempt to hit 3 putts through the hole from a specific distance (let’s say 6 ft to start with) but each putt needs to finish a specific distance past. 1st putt needs to finish 0-1 ft past, the 2nd putt would need to be 1-2ft past and then the last putt would need to finish 2-3ft past.
The great thing about using the phantom hole is that the ball will roll through the hole so you can see a successful putt but also get feedback as to where the ball would finish in terms of distance past the hole.
Now repeat the drill but reverse or randomize the distances you attempt. Once you have done this, now change the distance of the putt (let’s say we now move to 8ft) and then repeat the process again. The drill is forcing you each time to hit a putt with a different intention and essentially hit the ball a different distance each time. Such a process is helping us to fine-tune our feel for what we are doing. Its implicitly going to help us develop a sense of which input equals which output and help us build great visuals, feel and imagination.
So next time you are on the green consider the speed cake, practice the mechanics, work on your rhythm and tempo and then fine-tune that touch!
Until next time,