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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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Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive

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Drop the mic on how the wrists should load and be positioned for compressive power, accuracy, and longevity! There is a better way, and this is it!

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301

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In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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An awesome drill for lag that works with the ball!

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Many lag drills have come and gone in this game because they have a hard time working when the ball is there! How many times do you hear about someone having a great practice swing and then having it all go away when the ball is there? This one is a keeper!

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