1) Keep it loose
The pace at which you hit your putts is the most critical element of putting. Let’s start with loose arms. Let them just hang freely from your shoulders as you don’t want any tension creeping through your hands in to your forearms and up in to your shoulders as that will completely fuse your putting stroke. You want to feel nice and loose with a gentle grip so that you’re comfortably in control yet still able to move the putter back and forth freely from the shoulders.
2) One-handed putting
For a right-hander, your feel hand is your right hand, but many golfers think that if they stay connected and quite wooden in the arms, they’ll be better putters. But the right hand plays a huge role in the judgement of feel and length, so try putting with your left hand off the club. Just stroke the club backwards and forwards and feel the movement. It will feel vulnerable at first, but will give you a better appreciation of the lag of the putter and the release going through.
3) Different grips; different benefits
The conventional right-below-left grip allows you to feel a little bit of lag and certainly some release. The increasingly popular left-below-right grip eliminates that, but for a reason – to help those whose wrists and hands get too active. But the ‘fusing’ of the right hand in this grip means you have to control pace and feel through length of stroke as there is no right-hand release. The claw grip is a happy medium as it removes the dominance of the right hand but still gives you some ability to release. Experiment with different grips by all means, but understand the pros and cons of each.
4) The eyes have it
I strongly recommend practising with your eyes shut and relying on other senses. Take a few practice putts, look at the hole, shut your eyes and putt. We’re guided by our eyes a lot, and by taking them away you have to transfer that feel into your hands, arms and shoulders. I believe that can really improve your pace putting. Then there’s the Jordan Spieth method where you look at the hole, not the ball, building up the necessary calculations through your eyes before feeding them directly through into your putting stroke. This gives you a sensation of total feel – not technique, but just judgment and instinct.
5) Pre-round pace drill
This is one of the best pre-round pace putting drills I know. Take three clubs and lay them on the practice green at various distances before you head out to play. Try to putt just one ball as close as possible to each of the three shafts to give you a real sense of the pace of the green.