Ian Hardie Golfer Pacific NZ Column November 2019

Ian Hardie Golfer Pacific NZ Columns
Ian Hardie Golfer Pacific NZ Columns


What’s a simple way to improve my putting?


‘What’s a simple way to improve my putting?’

This a question that I’ve been asked many times over the years that I’ve been coaching golf.

It’s a pretty good question too, as most golfers that I’ve played with and thinking about it, almost all of the golfers that come to me for coaching on their putting.

Usually struggle with 3 putting on at least one green during nearly every round they play.

For far too many golfers, it happens more than once a round and for a few golfers, it can be not just 3 putts but 4 and even 5 putts on a green.

Which is an awful lot of shots that can be taken off their golf scores, just by using the advice you are about to read.

Advice, that is so simple, easy to do and effective that it staggers me that all golfers don’t do it but I know for a fact that most golfers will have never thought about doing it.

Despite the fact, that they do a similar thing for almost every other golf shot that they play while getting to the green on each hole.

Before I get to that advice though, let’s take a look at why a lot of golfers have 3 or more putts on a green in the first place.

95% of the time, a golfer will end up 3 putting because they don’t get the distance / strength / speed – whatever you want to call it – of their first putt right.

Which usually means they end up with a putt of a few feet to go or coming back from past the hole.

So what, you might say, it’s only a few feet?

True but for most golfers its a few feet, quite a few times a round and over time the pressure and stress can build.

As I’m sure you have experienced yourself at some point.

A quick look at last year’s PGA Tour putting statistics will show you that the best (not the worst) putters on the PGA Tour make on average, around 50% of their putts under 5 feet in length.

Just think about that statistic for a minute – around half – are you surprised at that?


These are the best putters out there, they have spent years honing their putting skills and they are playing tour events on near perfect greens every week, so what are your chances?

Actually, they are just about to get a whole lot better.

You are about to find out how to get the distance of your first putts right every time, so that all you will have left are tap-ins.

The odd thing (as I mentioned earlier) about this simple advice is that as golfers we do a similar thing for all the other shots we hit from the tee through to the green.

We make a judgment as to what the distance of our shot will be, so we can figure out the right club and effort to use to you know – get the distance right.

But when it comes to the putting green……………………

For some reason the golfers who rely on distance markers or the many new devices that golfers have at their disposal nowadays to give them that number.

Which allows them to have an educated guess as to how hard to hit their shots down the fairway and to the green.

Suddenly expect (for some unknown reason) that their brain will know how hard to hit their putt.

But what has it got to go on?

For most golfers, absolutely nothing, whereas I know the length of every putt before I hit it, which I get from pacing the length of the putt as I wander around the green looking at the slopes and borrows (we’ll discuss slopes and borrows another time) of the putt.

Makes sense doesn’t it?

There are two points that are important to be aware of before you try this in a game of golf.


First, don’t make it obvious that you are counting your steps – just casually count your paces as you walk as all you need is an estimated distance.

The same sort of estimate that you are happy to rely on, when facing your shot into a green and you decide that “it’s about a #7 iron”.

Secondly, don’t do it if it will slow you down and hold other golfers up.

I generally go around behind the hole for every putt I hit anyway and it’s walking back from there to the ball when I take the distance.

Other times I make sure I take my clubs around past the hole so that as I walk back to my ball to putt I count the paces then – you’ll figure out what works best for you.

This enables me to keep the distance in my mind as I do my practice putt swings and get the feel for the distance before I start to line up the putt.

So that’s my advice for a simple way to improve your putting – pace the length of your putts to get an estimate of the distance.

Start doing it immediately to give your brain the ability over time to associate the strength you hit you hit your putts with the length of the putt.

Just the same way you learnt how to choose between a #8 iron and #7 iron when playing into the green, as a new golfer.

Over a few months it will become second nature and your brain will build a library of distances and the associated strength to hit them so well, that you will seldom, if ever 3 putt again.

Play well.


If you have been struggling with your putting or, like most golfers, have never been taught the important basics of putting, I’ve written a PDF book that covers everything you need.

You can find my Little Book of Putting here.


Ian Hardie is Golfer Pacific’s Golf Professional contributor. He is Club Professional at Omanu Golf Club in Mount Maunganui. Ian’s time is split between the pro shop at the club and helping people to improve, while enjoying their golf more as a result of his golf coaching. Over the past few years, in an effort to help as many golfers as he can, Ian has been sharing his common sense golf advice with golfers around the world through his website golfhabits.com. With over 500 articles to read, it’s a great resource for any golfer looking to improve their golf game.

Location Omanu Golf Club, 98 Matapihi Road, Mount Maunganui Phone 0272222073 (txt is ok) or at Omanu Golf Club Pro Shop (07) 575 5957 E-mail ian@golfhabits.com Hours Coaching Times: Monday - All Day, Tuesday - All Day, Wednesday - Morning, Thursday - Afternoon, Friday - Sometimes, Saturday - Afternoon, Sunday - Rarely.
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