Perfect your Pace
On fast greens, speed matters more than read
By Mike Kinloch
As a rule of thumb, the greens out here in the Middle East – certainly at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club – run pretty quick. If you want to score well, you have to have a good control over your speed, because there are few things more frustrating in golf than a three-putt.
The drill I’ve set up here is the best way to practice your pace putting, while keeping it fun at the same time. I’ve used cones to mark out five distance stations, but you can easily do the same with tee pegs. The first cone is at six feet, with the remainder all exactly one club-length apart up to 18 feet. For an amateur golfer, if you can start holing a few more from this range then great, but what we want to avoid at all costs is taking more than two putts to get down.
Two-and-a-half feet behind the hole I’ve placed an alignment rod, which you can substitute with a golf club. The game is simple. Each putt must finish beyond the hole but stop short of the rod. Running a ball more than three feet past the hole leaves a tricky one coming back, while from this range, it’s important to give every putt a chance of going in. You get one point for every ball that finishes inside this ‘two-putt’ zone, and two points for holing it. If you leave a putt short of the hole, or a ball hits the rod, you’ve lost the game and have to start again.
You want to leave a stress-free tap-in for your second putt.
One technique that I’d recommend when doing this exercise is to look directly at the hole when making your practice stroke. You’ll teach your brain to associate the distance with the correct length and rhythm of your stroke. If you want to make things more challenging, all you have to do is increase the distance of the stations. If you make this exercise a regular part of your putting practice, you’ll start seeing those three-putts disappear from your card.
Learning to judge the correct pace from six to 18 feet will automatically make you a more consistent long-range putter, too. From this distance range, a good week for a tour pro can mean the difference between a mid-field finish and a victory. For amateurs, it’s the range where you would hope but not necessarily expect to hole putts. Making sure you take no more than two to get down is priority No.1, and if your pace is good, a few more will start dropping.
Mike Kinloch is a Senior PGA Teaching Professional at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. For more information, visit dubaigolf.com
Photograph by Farooq Salik