This is the biggest thing heads-up putting helps golfers improve

If you want to improve your distance control, putting while looking at the hole is one of the best things you can do.

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Heads up putting. It’s an innovative concept that questions the validity of one of the oldest cliches in the book: Keeping your head down, and your eye on the golf ball over putts.

Biomechanist Sasho MacKenzie has taken a deep dive into this via a 2017 study which found, in a nutshell, that golfers who adopted the heads-up putting technique (AKA, looked at the hole when they putted) improved more than those who kept their eyes locked on the golf ball. And while the average golfer improved putting heads up, there’s one specific type of golfer it tends to help the most: Golfers who struggle with distance control.

Heads-up putting drill
What is ‘heads up’ putting? I tried it, and now I’m hooked for good
By: Luke Kerr-Dineen

Heads-up putting helps distance control

When it comes to the literal act of hitting a putt, golfers are essentially trying to do three things at once: Hit the ball with good contact, in their intended direction, at their intended line. When Mackenzie studied how putting while looking at the hole affected these things, he found that golfers’ contact got slightly worse (though not significantly), that their accuracy stayed the same, but their speed control improved significantly.

“If I asked you to throw a ball, but then told you to look at your feet, that would feel weird, right?” he says.

Sasho explains that heads-up putting helps golfers focus on their target more and react to it better. The resulting improvement in distance control outweighs the slight drop in contact quality. Because, as Sasho explains:

“It turns out that speed is really important in putting.”

You can watch him explain the concept below — and even drop a long putt at the end of it.

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.