If you ever watch a great putter like Steve Stricker, his routine is very methodical. As with other great players, they attempt to recreate the same conditions through out their pre-shot routine to increase their consistency when executing their putt. I am a very strong proponent of this and try to use the same method of putting all the time. Regardless of the length (except tap ins of course), I have a step by step routine of putting. I am happy to say that it works very well and I rarely make adjustments.
Basically, any putt outside for 6 feet, I pace off. I need to know the distance to make sure I properly judge the speed required to cover the distance. We had discussed line versus speed quite extensively in the past, but on longer putts, giving yourself the advantage of knowing the distance is very important. Unfortunately, the majority of golfers have a tendency to ‘wing it’ and guess the distance of their putt.
I think that without going into a diatribe about the importance of pacing off the distance of longer putts, we can all agree that knowing this information is important. We spend a great deal of money investing in a GPS, range finder or phone app to know the distance to the pin from the fairway, so why would we not want to know the distance of a putt?
However, there is a second part to pacing off a putt that most players overlook; actually practicing of long putts. During my warm up, I pace off 5, 10, 15, and 20 steps on the practice range. I hit between 6 and 9 balls from each distance to gauge the strength needed to cover these distances for that day. I do this because conditions change and I know I will have several putts during my upcoming round that will require this knowledge. To me, it just makes sense to practice the shots that are likely to occur during my round. As a result of my pacing off putts, I have significantly reduce the number of 3 putts and increased the number of lag putts that results in tap ins. The numbers speak for themselves.
So, I recommend that the next time you hit the practice range, pace off a few longer distances that work for you and practice. It is important to note, that during my practice times, I try to sink every putt. Lag putting is a good defensive play sometimes, but not on the practice green. I think that pacing off your putts will help lower your golf scores if you add it to your practice routine before each round.
So I ask again, do you pace of your putts?
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog.