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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

Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 1)

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Golf is hard. I spend my career helping people learn that truth, but golfers are better than they give themselves credit for.

As a golf performance specialist, I give a lot of “first time working together” lessons, and most of them start the same way. I hear about all the ways the golfer is cursed and how s/he is never going to “get it” and how s/he should take up another sport. Granted, the last statement generally applies to an 18-plus handicap player, but I hear lots of negatives from better players as well.

Even though the golfers make convincing arguments for why they are cursed, I know the truth. It’s my job to help them realize the fates aren’t conspiring against them.

All golfers can play well consistently

I know this is a bold statement, but I believe this because I know that “well” does not equate to trophies and personal bests. Playing “well” equates to understanding your margin of error and learning to live within it.

With this said, I have arrived at my first point of proving why golfers are not cursed or bad golfers: They typically do not know what “good” looks like.

What does “good” look like from 150 yards out to a center pin?

Depending on your skill level, the answer can change a lot. I frequently ask golfers this same question when selecting a shot on the golf course during a coaching session and am always surprised at the response. I find that most golfers tend to either have a target that is way too vague or a target that is much too small.

The PGA Tour average proximity to the hole from 150 yards is roughly 30 feet. The reason I mention this statistic is that it gives us a frame of reference. The best players in the world are equivalent to a +4 or better handicap. With that said, a 15-handicap player hitting it to 30 feet from the pin from 150 yards out sounds like a good shot to me.

I always encourage golfers to understand the statistics from the PGA Tour not because that should be our benchmark, but because we need to realize that often our expectations are way out of line with our current skill level. I have found that golfers attempting to hold themselves to unrealistic standards tend to perform worse due to the constant feeling of “failing” they create when they do not hit every fairway and green.

Jim Furyk, while playing a limited PGA Tour schedule, was the most accurate driver of the golf ball during the 2020 season on the PGA Tour hitting 73.96 percent of his fairways (roughly 10/14 per round) and ranked T-136 in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. Bryson Dechambeau hit the fairway 58.45 percent (roughly 8/14 per round) of the time and ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

There are two key takeaways in this comparison

Sometimes the fairway is not the best place to play an approach shot from. Even the best drivers of the golf ball miss fairways.

By using statistics to help athletes gain a better understanding of what “good” looks like, I am able to help them play better golf by being aware that “good” is not always in the middle of the fairway or finishing next to the hole.

Golf is hard. Setting yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations is only going to stunt your development as a player. We all know the guy who plays the “tips” or purchases a set of forged blades applying the logic that it will make them better in the long run—how does that story normally end?

Take action

If you are interested in applying some statistics to your golf game, there are a ton of great apps that you can download and use. Also, if you are like me and were unable to pass Math 104 in four attempts and would like to do some reading up on the math behind these statistics, I highly recommend the book by Mark Broadie Every Shot Counts. If you begin to keep statistics and would like how to put them into action and design better strategies for the golf course, then I highly recommend the Decade system designed by Scott Fawcett.

You may not be living up to your expectations on the golf course, but that does not make you a bad or cursed golfer. Human beings are very inconsistent by design, which makes a sport that requires absolute precision exceedingly difficult.

It has been said before: “Golf is not a game of perfect.” It’s time we finally accept that fact and learn to live within our variance.

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Walters: Try this practice hack for better bunker shots

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Your ability to hit better bunker shots is dramatically reduced if you have no facility to practice these shots. With so few facilities (especially in the UK) having a practice bunker it’s no wonder I see so many golfers struggle with this skill.

Yet the biggest issue they all seem to have is the inability to get the club to enter the sand (hit the ground) in a consistent spot. So here is a hack to use at the range to improve your bunker shots.

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Golf Blueprint: A plan for productive practice sessions

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Practice range at the Dormie Club. Photo credit: Scott Arden

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You’ve gotten lessons.  Several of them.  You’ve been custom fitted for everything in your bag.  You even bought another half a dozen driver shafts last year looking for an extra couple of yards.  And yet, you’re still…stuck.  Either your handicap hasn’t moved at all in years or you keep bouncing back and forth between the same two numbers.  You’ve had all the swing fixes and all the technological advances you could realistically hope to achieve, yet no appreciable result has been achieved in lowering your score.  What gives?

Sample Golf Blueprint practice plan for a client.

One could argue that no one scientifically disassembled and then systematically reassembled the game of golf quite like the great Ben Hogan.  His penchant for doing so created a mystique which is still the stuff of legend even today.  A great many people have tried to decipher his secret over the years and the inevitable conclusion is always a somewhat anticlimactic, “The secret’s in the dirt.”  Mr. Hogan’s ball striking prowess was carved one divot at a time from countless hours on the practice range.  In an interview with golf journalist George Peper in 1987, Mr. Hogan once said:

“You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but the truth is, I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it. And I still thoroughly enjoy it. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply—when anyone is— it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Let me guess.  You’ve tried that before, right?  You’ve hit buckets and buckets of range rocks trying to groove the perfect 7-iron swing and still to no avail, right?  Read that last sentence again closely and you might discover the problem.  There’s a difference between mindful practice and mindless practice.  Mindful practice, like Mr. Hogan undoubtedly employed, is structured, focused, and intentional.  It has specific targets and goals in mind and progresses in a systematic fashion until those goals are met.

This is exactly what Nico Darras and Kevin Moore had in mind when they started Golf Blueprint.  In truth, though, the journey actually started when Nico was a client of Kevin’s Squares2Circles project.  Nico is actually a former DI baseball player who suffered a career-ending injury and took up golf at 22 years old.  In a short time, he was approaching scratch and then getting into some mini tour events.  Kevin, as mentioned in the Squares2Circles piece, is a mathematics education professor and accomplished golfer who has played in several USGA events.  Their conversations quickly changed from refining course strategy to making targeted improvements in Nico’s game.  By analyzing the greatest weaknesses in Nico’s game and designing specific practice sessions (which they call “blueprints”) around them, Nico started reaching his goals.

The transition from client to partners was equal parts swift and organic, as they quickly realized they were on to something.  Nico and Kevin used their experiences to develop an algorithm which, when combined with the client’s feedback, establishes a player profile within Golf Blueprint’s system.  Clients get a plan with weekly, monthly, and long-term goals including all of the specific blueprints that target the areas of their game where they need it most.  Not to mention, clients get direct access to Nico and Kevin through Golf Blueprint.

Nico Darras, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

While this is approaching shades of Mr. Hogan’s practice method above, there is one key distinction here.  Kevin and Nico aren’t recommending practicing for hours at a time.  Far from it.  In Nico’s words:

“We recommend 3 days a week.  You can do more or less, for sure, but we’ve found that 3 days a week is within the realm of possibility for most of our clients.  Practice sessions are roughly 45-70 minutes each, but again, all of this depends on the client and what resources they have at their disposal.  Each blueprint card is roughly 10 minutes each, so you can choose which cards to do if you only have limited time to practice.  Nothing is worse than cranking 7 irons at the range for hours.  We want to make these engaging and rewarding.”

Kevin Moore, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

So far, Golf Blueprint has been working for a wide range of golfers – from tour pros to the No Laying Up crew to amateurs alike.  Kevin shares some key data in that regard:

“When we went into this, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  Were we going to be an elite player product?  Were we going to be an amateur player product?  We didn’t know, honestly.  So far, what’s exciting is that we’ve had success with a huge range of players.  Probably 20-25% of our players (roughly speaking) are in that 7-11 handicap range.  That’s probably the center of the bell curve, if you will, right around that high-single-digit handicap range.  We have a huge range though, scratch handicap and tour players all the way to 20 handicaps.  It runs the full gamut.  What’s been so rewarding is that the handicap dropping has been significantly more than we anticipated.  The average handicap drop for our clients was about 2.7 in just 3 months’ time.”

Needless to say, that’s a pretty significant drop in a short amount of time from only changing how you practice.  Maybe that Hogan guy was on to something.  I think these guys might be too.  To learn more about Golf Blueprint and get involved, visit their website. @Golf_Blueprint is their handle for both Twitter and Instagram.

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