Struggling with speed control on the greens? Try this drill

Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.

Speed control is the most important ingredient in putting. If you have the proper touch on the greens, it will eliminate three-putts and big numbers on your scorecard.

But even if you’ve dialed in your speed on certain greens, the stimp reading will change from day to day. And if you’re going to an unfamiliar course, you can’t rely on past experience to inform your touch. Every time you tee it up — whether on your home course or somewhere new — you’ve got to dial in your speed to be successful.

Hitting the putting green before the round is a must, but you need to have a plan to maximize your success. In today’s edition of Play Smart, GOLF Teacher to Watch Christy Longfield shows us a great drill to use before your round even begins.

A drill to dial in your speed

When you get to the practice green, you’re going to need to dig into your bag to get the necessary supplies. You’ll need 12 ball marks (or tees) as well as 10 balls. Once you fish those out of your bag, you can start setting up the drill.

Find a relatively flat spot on the green and set up two ball marks about 18 inches apart front to back. The center of this will represent your imaginary cup. Next, go down the line about five feet and set up your first ball mark. From there, set up the remaining ball marks about a foot apart all the way back to 15 feet from the “cup.” (Watch the video to see exactly how to do it.)

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You can now start hitting putts toward your imaginary cup with a goal of getting each putt to stop within the 18-inch target. Don’t worry if your ball squirts a little right or left of your target. As long as you are hitting putts with the proper weight and they are stopping within the target front to back, you’re doing it correctly.

“It’s not about stroke, it’s not about direction,” Longfield says. “It’s only speed.”

If you want to make things a bit more difficult, set a goal of making all 10 putts inside the target in a row. And if you fail to get one putt to stop within the target, you have to start over.

“When I’m practicing, I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Longfield says. “I take all those balls back and I start again.”

Once you start to get a feel for the speed of the green, you’ll have no problem collecting all 10 balls within the target. Then, you can head to the 1st tee with confidence that you aren’t going to three-putt.

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