Let’s take a look at putting starting from the hole and going backwards. What is the average distance on the PGA tour for them to have a 50/50 chance to 1 putt? If you said 8′ you are correct. We will use Mark Broadie’s stats for a lot of this from his book Every Shot Counts. Take a look at the below insert I pulled from online. There are 3 keys to putting: Green Reading, Speed Control, and Start Line.
Short Putts: These are more on picking the right read and start line. A tour pro has a 50% chance from 8′ but that same percentage is found at 5′ for 90’s golfer. From those distances and moving out the percentages drop dramatically. Inside 20′ for the season a tour player must average a conversion rate of about 60% to keep their card. That means for every putt from 1″-20′ for the season they holed out 6 of 10. The average golfer expects to make a lot more than that and set their expectations too high and try to force the makes. Keep track of how many putts you miss inside 6′. When you work on the putting green work on making these putts.
Mid Range Putts: Will make some and miss some so expect to 2 putt often. Goal is to not 3 putt from 6′-20′. I do not recommend working on this area for the average golfer. For competitive golfers they need to work on their conversion rates from in side 20′.
Long Putts: The main key for these are picking the right read and then getting the speed to match. For the average golfer this is outside 20′ and for the pro’s 40′. The goal from 20′ and out is to stop the ball at the hole. Other than green reading and short putting practice I recommend players to spend most of their time in this zone from 20-50′. A good putt is 10% of the distance so for a 50′ putt within 5′ is good. Now when you are training, train harder so you can play easier. A great game/challenge is to set up 2 tees or coins 3′ apart as the goal and drop a ball starting at 20′ and another one ever 5′ going out to 40″+. Start at 20′ and if you roll it in the 3′ zone move back 5′ and putt from there until you stop it in and repeat the process out to your stopping distance or for 5 minutes of game time. Do this up and down hill where down hill will be harder to control the speed. Lastly play 9 holes from 30′-50′ with different starting spots to different holes with the goal to finish with 18 strokes. Not trying to make them from that distance but stop it at the hole and knock in the next putt.
For green reading I would recommend seeing your nearest AimPoint Certified coach and go through an Express Level 1&2 class. If you are picking the wrong spots then speed control gets difficult. Under reading the putt tends to get a ball traveling too fast towards the hole to keep the ball from dropping below the hole which results in a ball that finishes well past the hole.
The 3rd area of putting is start line. Best practice here is to putt down a 1″ wide yard stick. Set the yard stick so the end is going right into the middle of a hole on a straight uphill putt. Roll in 5-10 balls in a row depending on your skill level then move on. If you are a competitive golfer you will have more time to spend in all areas of putting. Most golfers need to use their time wisely and spending 15-20 minutes during each practice session on their putting. This is an area they can improve quickly and anyone can do it.