A lot of golfers think the key on long putts is speed and shorter putts are more about line. Actually, speed is critical on all putts. The pace of the ball dictates the size of the hole. If you hit a putt firmly, the effective width of the cup might be two inches, but if the ball is rolling slowly, the cup might play twice as wide. So let’s work on your speed.

Here’s a great drill I use all the time. Set up an imaginary box using four tees, three feet wide and about a foot-and-a-half deep. Drop three balls five feet from the centre of the box, and try to roll all three into it [above]. If a ball doesn’t come to rest inside the boundaries, start over. Once you get all three, move back two feet, and do it again. Then go back another two feet, and so on, until you’re about 15 feet away. Remember, a miss means you have to start over from that distance. This isn’t an easy drill, but when you get good at it, you’ll have distance control – and believe me, you’ll make a lot more putts. 

The pace of the ball dictates the size of the hole.

Michael Breed

Another benefit is, you’ll become a better green-reader. Why? Because you can’t really pick a line until you know what speed you’re going to roll the ball. Get your speed right, and you’ll see your lines more clearly. You’ll develop a feel for combining speed and break – and that’s what great putters do. 

Michael Breed operates his academy at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in New York City.