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.
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.
Kelley: How to easily find your ideal impact position
If you look at any sport, the greats seem to do more with less. Whether it be a swimmer gliding through the water or a quarterback throwing a pass, they make it look it easy and effortless.
In golf, there are a variety of distinct swing patterns to get into a dynamic impact position. I believe in efficiency to find that impact position for effortless power and center contact. Efficiency is defined as “the ability to produce something with a minimum amount of effort.” This can easily apply to the golf swing.
It all starts with the address position. The closer we can set up to an impact position, the less we have to do to get back there. Think of it like throwing a ball. If your body is already in a throwing position, you can simply make the throw without repositioning your body for accuracy. This throwing motion is also similar to an efficient direction of turn in the golf swing.
Once you set up to the ball with your impact angles, if you retain your angles in the backswing, the downswing is just a more leveraged or dynamic version of your backswing. If you can take the club back correctly, the takeaway at hip-high level will mirror that position in the downswing (the desired pre-impact position). In the picture below, the body has become slightly more dynamic in the downswing due to speed, but the body levels have not changed from the takeaway position.
This stays true for halfway back in the backswing and halfway down in the downswing. Note how the body has never had to reposition or “recover” to find impact.
At the top of the swing, you will notice how the body has coiled around its original spine angle. There was no left-side bend or “titling” of the body. All the original address position angles were retained. From this position, the arms can simply return back down with speed, pulling the body through.
The key to an efficient swing lies in the setup. Luckily for players working on their swing, this is the easiest part to work on and control. If you can learn to start in an efficient position, all you need to do is hold the angles you started with. This is a simple and effective way to swing the golf club.
Wedge Guy: Short iron challenges — and a little insight (hopefully!)
In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don’t hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect?
I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:
“I’m hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I’ve got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below. I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time. I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135. My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards. No matter how “hard” I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances. It’s maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away. What am I doing wrong?
Well, Phillip, don’t feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in Wedge Guy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:
Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40-degree range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.
Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “Iron Byron” robotic testers.
Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset,” I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do it! You will be surprised, enlightened, and most likely pleased with the results.
Fact #4. The 4.5-degree difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here?
Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match.” If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.
So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85 percent power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.
Clement: Easily find your perfect backswing plane with this drill
When you get on one of these, magic will happen! You can’t come too far inside or outside in the backswing, and you can’t have arms too deep or shallow at the top of the backswing nor can you be too laid off or across the line either! SEAMLESS!!
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