Struggling with green speed? Try this, says LPGA pro

Emma Talley putts on the 18th hole during the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club on Thursday, June 22, 2023 in Springfield, New Jersey.

Emma Talley recommends looking at the hole — not the ball — to dial in speed on the greens.

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No one plays in more pro-ams than tour professionals, who often have at least one pro-am obligation during a given tournament week. These outings give the pros ample opportunity to network with their amateur partners and also, often, to teach.

Pro-am participants generally love to receive tips and instruction from their professional partners, and the pros are usually more than happy to offer some useful advice.

Because of their extensive pro-am experience, Tour pros have a great read on the issues many amateur players tend to struggle with during their rounds. At the LPGA’s recent tour stop in Arizona, I asked former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and LPGA Tour player Emma Talley if she could identify an area in which amateur players tend to have a hard time.

Talley’s answer was immediate: dialing in on green speed.

According to Talley, one of things she’s noticed during her Tour tenure is that her amateur partners tend to focus on the line of the putt more than the speed.

“The speed is way more important than the line,” Talley said on the range at Seville Golf & Country Club.

So how can amateurs remedy this deficiency? To help dial in your speed, Talley recommends using Jordan Spieth as inspiration.

“If you remember Jordan Spieth looking at the hole and putting, go out and try it, because no other sport other than golf looks at the ball. They look at the target,” she said. “So by looking at the target, your senses are going to take over and it’s way easier to predict the speed by looking at the hole.”

It may feel unnatural at first, but Talley says that looking at the hole instead of looking down at the ball while she’s putting is a method she frequently uses to acclimate herself to the green speed.

Give Talley’s advice a try during your next practice session, and start making more putts during your next round. Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on