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Want better speed control on the greens? Download a metronome app

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Understanding rhythm and tempo is crucial to being a great putter. Tempo is the pace we do things, and rhythm is the sequence of those events. In putting, rhythm is the attribute of the distance of the stroke back and through, while tempo is the time it takes to complete the stroke.

When rhythm is off, weaknesses in speed control are exposed, especially under pressure. And when a player is struggling with their distance control, the length and speed of the stroke can be the first tell.

So how do we factor this into our putting? Golfers should strive to use the same tempo and timing for ALL length putts. In other words, the time it takes for you to swing the putter head back and make contact with the ball will be the same on a 5-foot putt as it is on a 20-foot putt. The only thing that varies is the length of the backstroke and forward stroke.

There’s no one correct tempo for a putting stroke, either, not even on the PGA Tour. So you need to figure what tempo suits you the best. The best way to do that? Read on.

Use a metronome to improve you putting tempo

Using a metronome is the best way to practice proper tempo for putting. You can use it to practice matching different length putting strokes to the sound of the metronome beat. The beat of the metronome will stay consistent, but the length of the stroke will differ due to the length of the putt.

Don’t have a metronome? That’s ok. You can download a metronome app for your smart phone, which works just as well. Most are free, too.

Above is a video demonstration of starting the stroke on the first beep and making contact on the second beep. Make sure the volume is on so you can hear the sound of the metronome throughout the stroke. I made the video while using a Visio putting arc, which is another great tool to help make sure the length of your stroke is even.

Once you have practiced using a metronome, you can carry that tempo and rhythm to the course. Once you find a tempo that suits you best, a simple mental count of “one-two” while putting will serve as your internal metronome.

At-home drill using a metronome

I sometimes ask my students to work on their putting stroke away from the course, because it helps keep them from thinking too mechanically. When we’re playing a round of golf, putting should be more instinctive and the focus should be external and on things like speed and line — not positions or mechanics.

Below is a great drill you can do at home that incorporates the use of a metronome or your mental “one-two” count. It will give you instant and important feedback.at home drill

Place a book on the floor, turn your metronome on and set your putter head against the side of the book. You will take the putter head back on the first beep, and softly strike the back of the book on the second beep. Imagine rolling different length putts: a 5-footer, a 10-footer, a 20-footer and so on. Make sure your putter head strikes the side of the book on the second metronome beat no matter how long the putt.

What you want is the length of your stroke to change, but your tempo to remain consistent. I use a metronome beat count of “65” while doing the drill, but you may differ.

Enjoy this drill, and let me know if you have further questions in the comments section below. I’ll do my best to answer as many questions as I can. 

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Kelvin is a Class A PGA golf professional in San Francisco, California. He teaches and has taught at some of the top golf clubs in the Bay Area, including the Olympic Club and Sonoma Golf Club. He is TPI certified, and a certified Callaway and Titleist club fitter. Kelvin has sought advice and learned under several of the top instructors in the game, including Alex Murray and Scott Hamilton. To schedule a lesson, please call 818.359.0352 Online lessons also available at www.kelleygolf.com

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Radim Pavlicek

    Nov 30, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Extremely confusing. I think you mean 2 clicks back and one forward. Not 1 back and 1 forward as stated in the article.

    • Kelvin Kelley

      Nov 30, 2016 at 10:57 am

      You can do either…two clicks is just to keep it simple. Take the putter head back on the first click, make contact on the second click. If wanted a click on a different part of your stroke, would have to change metronome beat.

  2. Jake V

    Nov 29, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    In my opinion, one of the best ways to improve distance control in putting is to buy an Odyssey putter. 🙂

  3. Joe Brennan

    Nov 29, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Another great tip… Thanks..

  4. Azman Long Hamid

    Nov 27, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Why 65 ???

    • Kelvin Kelley

      Nov 27, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      Azman,

      Great question. Typically the rhythm of the stroke is twice as long back as the downswing to impact so a 2.1 ratio. So that’s 2/3 of the time back and 1/3 of the time down. This number has been calculated based on Tour averages.

      • Azman Long Hamid

        Nov 28, 2016 at 2:06 am

        Ok, that’s make sense. Thanks.

      • TeeBone

        Nov 28, 2016 at 1:59 pm

        For a 2:1 rhythm, you’d need to make impact on the third click. It would be 2 clicks back, 1 click forward.

        • Kelvin Kelley

          Nov 28, 2016 at 2:07 pm

          Yes, you can change the metronome beat to match this ratio as well.

          • TeeBone

            Nov 29, 2016 at 1:39 am

            There is equal time between beats/clicks with a metronome. A 2:1 ratio for backswing:forward swing will always be 2 beats back and one beat forward to impact. The only thing you can adjust is the tempo. If a specific app makes the 3rd or 4th beat sound different, then its more than just a metronome.

  5. WillyNilly

    Nov 27, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    You do reason you wrote that you want your students to do a mechanical “metronome” drill to get away from becoming too mechanical on the course. Even in music study the metronome is considered a mechanical step required to improve timing, however, it doesn’t mean it will translate to feel, and feel is what sinks putts and creates moving music. I have tried the 1-2 count in the past, but prefer to feel it with physical triggers versus actual counting. That being said, timing is important and I’ll record myself putting and analyze the video afterwards to see how my timing is and how it relates to my distance control. Thanks for the article – always open to a different way of looking at a problem.

    • WillyNilly

      Nov 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      where “reason” = “realize” :o)

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Instruction

Stickney: Sit on it (for a better backswing)

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As we know golf, is a very tough sport and one that involves many moving pieces. Whenever something overreacts or moves too much on the way back, you end up playing catch-up on the way down. One of my favorite things to watch is how the head moves or doesn’t move on the backswing. Sure, you can have some movement, but you can’t have too much or you put yourself behind the eight ball.

I have charted the head position of a tour player at address and we can see that this is a very normal set up position. It is one that looks positioned to do great things.

However, en route to the top, you can see that this player has put himself into a position where his rear knee straightened too rapidly off the start of his backswing. When this occurs the pelvis “runs out from under” the upper body on the backswing the hips will react and begin to slant downward. (You can see a -10 degree tilt versus 3 degrees the opposite way at address for you number people.)

This causes the head to move out in front of where it was at address. This is not a bad position for the irons but for a driver we have a pending issue. If you don’t make a compensation from here then the player will have an angle of attack that is too much downward through impact with their driver.

As the player moves into his transition, the hips have leveled as the rear shoulder lowers the club into delivery but the head and pelvis are still too far out in front of the ball. The only thing you can do from here is fire the lead side upwards and hope that your head falls back into the correct position. If so, you will have the correct angle of attack, if not, you will chop down on the ball causing your launch conditions to be faulty.

And as we see here that this is precisely what this player did at the very last minute…not the easiest way to swing the club but it is functional IF you make the right correction. So, now that you understand how simple things like the action of the lower body can cause your head to move and your angle of attack to become faulty, what is the secret to controlling your lower body?


Just “sit” on the rear knee flex slightly longer during the backswing as you see here. This will slow down the tilting of the pelvis on backswing and thus your head will stay more in position en route to the top.

Personally, I teach both flexion and extension of the rear knee to the top, depending on what the player is wanting to do, so it really does not matter. However, what does matter is the rate at which it begins to straighten for those of you who do allow it to lengthen. I try to make most of my students hold the most of their address flex until the club moves between belt and chest high, any sooner and you risk the faulty pivot we saw above.

Therefore, take it from me and “sit on it” slightly longer for more quiet head motions as well as a more balanced backswing—your angle of attack will thank you!

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Davies: Training the trail elbow in the golf swing

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Alistair Davies shares with you how to get the correct trail arm and elbow action in the downswing. He shares some great drills that can be done at the range or at home to help lower your scores.Get the correct training for the trail arm here today!

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The important lessons you can learn from Peter Senior’s golf swing

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He may not be a household name in the United States, but Australia’s Peter Senior has a swing for the ages. At 60 years old, Senior has 34 worldwide professional wins including the 2015 Australian Masters beating a competitive field with several top-ranked players in the world. Turning professional in 1978, his career has spanned over 40 years.

Senior’s game and swing have stood the test of time, and the longevity of his career should be recognized. Senior formerly worked with Australian instructor Gary Edwin, and the structure to this swing taught to Senior paved the way for a future of consistent, high-quality professional golf.

Having a great golf swing isn’t the only key to becoming a great golfer, one must learn to play the game. However, you can learn a lot from Senior’s swing.

The origin to Senior’s swing lies in his set-up. Senior sets up in what I call his “hitting angles” or a position that mirrors impact.

From this position, Senior is able to simply keep these angles he established at address throughout the swing. This is why the set-up is so critical. The further he deviates from these “hitting angles”, the more he will have to find that impact position with his body in the backswing and downswing. In other words, more movement. The goal of his backswing will be to maintain these original starting angles.

From the picture, Senior has maintained his original body shape that he established at address. From this position, it will be much easier and repeatable to return the club to impact.

Note how his impact position now mirrors his original address position. All his original angles were maintained with a slight bump of the body towards the target. From impact, he can simply fold up his arms as his right side of his body rotates around his left side, keeping the clubface square to the body.

This standing tall finish position with the head following the torso is much easier on the back. His body has come forward and around beautifully, covering the ball for a proper strike.

The beauty of Senior’s swing lies in its simplicity. The changes Senior made to his swing can apply to anyone. Let’s look at two simple drills to make your swing more efficient and powerful.

“To a large extent, my backswing is a product of my set-up position” – Tiger Woods, Golf Digest 2020

To get into these impact angles simply practice pushing into an impact bag with the head and shaft of the club. Make sure your trail arm is tucked, lowering the trail shoulder as you pressure the bag.

To get the feeling of the proper coil from this set-up position, grab an impact bag and hold the bag in front of you.

From here, swing the bag around you with your arms keeping the top of the bag level. You will feel the trail side of your body move back and the lead side move out, coiling around your spine angle.

The trail glute will also move back and around with this drill, a key move the great Ben Hogan used to pivot his body. To develop an efficient swing and a long, injury-free career, take note of Peter Senior’s key moves.

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