Putting is so simple yet so complex at the same time. One of the most important topics but not often discussed is the need for the right putting tempo.
The right putting tempo will improve how the putter head moves and ensure good speed control from all distances. Because let’s face it, is there anything worse than when your first putt ends up way short or too long on a lag putt. Then you’re faced with a tough second putt and unfortunately a lot more total putts per round.
When you master the tempo of your putting stroke, your speed control will improve like never before. Today we’ll discuss a great drill, why most players fail with a consistent stroke, and how tempo can help you become a great putter.
Putting Tempo 101
In an old YouTube video called “Secrets of the Short Game” by Phil Mickelson he said that most amateurs do two things incorrectly with their putting stroke.
First, they take too long of a backstroke, which leads to deceleration and missing a lot of putts short. This is from inconsistent rhythm and altering their tempo based on the length of the putt. Second, they under-read putts 90% of the time which makes it nearly impossible to make a lot of mid and long range putts.
To make more from short range and make the hole feel like a bucket, you need acceleration with the right tempo.
- Putting tempo plays a key role in getting putts to the hole and mastering distance control.
- Short game tempo (including putting) is different from long game tempo and slightly faster.
- Having the right tempo with your putter will help improve your strike, get the ball to the hole, and hopefully improve your confidence.
Keep reading to learn more about this important concept so you can make more putts than ever.
Short Game Tempo
So, what is the correct tempo for putting?
According to the book Tour Tempo 2, the short game tempo is 2:1. This means the backswing for chips/pitches) is twice as fast as the downswing. For putting this means the backstroke is twice as fast as the forward stroke.
This is a big difference from a normal tempo on the full swing which is 3:1. This concept is discussed in detail in the original book, Tour Tempo, and one of the best golf books you can read. When you master your tempo – with a driver, irons, and putter – your game will change.
So first things first, putting tempo is faster than a full swing.
Here’s the thing, great putters have the same tempo for all putts – whether they’re 5 or 50 feet. The only thing that changes for different length putts is the stroke length. Longer putts require longer strokes and shorter putts require shorter strokes.
But the tempo does not change. Unfortunately, most everyday golfers alter their tempo to try and putts of various lengths. This is one of the most common reasons why so many golfers struggle on the greens.
What’s the solution?
Measure your tempo with one of two golf apps to finally understand the perfect tempo and practice until it becomes habitual.
Download Tour Tempo
Tour Tempo is a great book (as is the sequel) but the app is even better. This is a paid app in the App store but has different voices and tones to help you understand both long and short game tempo. Inside the app it’s easy to set the tempo to different speeds while maintaining the proper tempo for long or short game.
- After downloading the app select the short game tab and choose voice or tones.
- Then, select your speed (ex. 14/7, 18/9, 22/11) as some golfers are slower or faster than others.
- Finally, use it in practice to develop a more consistent putting tempo. Plus, don’t forget to use it with your full swing too.
Please note that there are different speeds but all have the same tempo (2-1). Here’s how they described this concept in the book, Tour Tempo 2.
“Good putting tempo is invariable. If your optimal stroke is 18/9, you should time out at .90 seconds from takeaway to impact on every one of your putts. It doesn’t matter if the putt is a four-footer or a cross-country lag putt. The tempo stays the same.”
Use a Metronome
While I’m a big fan of Tour Tempo, it’s not the cheapest app. If you want to save money, opt for using a free metronome app instead. If you’re like a lot of people you might be thinking, what is a metronome anyway?
According to Wikipedia, “A metronome is a device that produces an audible click or other sound at a regular interval that can be set by the user, typically in beats per minute (BPM). Metronomes may include synchronized visual motion. Musicians use the device to practice playing to a regular pulse.”
While these devices were originally used for music, they’re also an underrated golf accessory. Plus you don’t need to buy a physical metronome anymore as there are free apps that do the same thing for you.
Here’s how to use it to master your putting…
- Download a metronome app on your device.
- Then, test out different beats per minute to find what works best for you.
- Most players will benefit from BPM that is between 85-110 but don’t be afraid to experiment.
- Keep hitting putts in practice to test out speed control and find the BPM that is right for you.
- Make sure to save that number and use the app in the future when working through putting drills.
Check out our favorite putting drills here.
Putting Tempo Drill
To make a metronome even more effective this is a good putting drill from JJ Putting on YouTube. Here’s how to get started…
- Download the metronome app if you haven’t already.
- Place three tees in the ground in a straight line like a ladder – each tee is about two feet apart (or slightly less). The further you separate the tees the longer you will hit the putt.
- Set your phone or table with the app in front of the middle tee and grab three golf balls.
- Putt next to the middle tee and play the metronome app between 85-110.
- With each beat you want to try and hit it each tee for proper timing. Focus on speed more than anything else and adjust as needed.
Most golfers will feel this is quite fast but as you can match the beat with the tees and you’ll get your speed dialed in no time. The goal isn’t to try and make putts with this drill, simply dial in your tempo. Recreate this feeling without a ball then with golf balls to create a cluster of balls in nearly the same place on the putting green.
FAQs About Mastering Your Putting Stroke
Do you have more questions about putting, developing a consistent tempo, and dialing in your speed control? If so, check out some of the most commonly asked questions and answers.
What is a 2-1 putting ratio?
A two to one putting ratio is the ideal tempo for putting. This means the backstroke is twice as fast as the forward stroke. This is different from the full swing which is 3-1 and why it’s so important to measure your tempo.
What is the PGA Tour average putting tempo?
As mentioned in the YouTube video above, most professionals average 100 BPM on a metronome. This is why they are so good with distance control, make more putts (especially short putts) and have a wildly consistent putting stroke.
Is tempo important in putting?
Yes, tempo is important from tee to green in golf.
The incorrect tempo on the greens can lead to speed issues which will have a big impact on reading greens. While incorrect tempo on the driving range and course can cause all sorts of ball striking issues as well.
What should I set my metronome to for putting?
Using a metronome is a great way to improve your putting. Set it between 85-110 bpm to find what works best for you.
While there is a preferred tempo, there isn’t a perfect speed as all golfers are slightly different. Keep your smart phone on the green near the golf ball you’re hitting so you can test out different speeds.
How hard should you hit a putt?
One of my oldest coaches always said that a putt that is short has 0% chance of going in. He’s not wrong either – but the problem is that some golfers take this advice too literally and try to bang every putt in the hole.
Here’s the thing, the harder you hit a putt, the more you shrink the hole.
This is why you want to try and make putts with a dying pace as the hole will catch it more often. If you hit it too hard you’ll get a lot of burned edges and lip outs. The proper speed if you do miss is to get the ball past the hole by 12–18 inches.
Click here to learn more about mastering distance control on lag putts now.
How do you hit consistent putts?
Hitting putts with consistency comes from the proper ball position when putting, finding a putter that is suited for you, a good pre-shot routine, and the right tempo. A tempo and rhythm you can repeat with your eyes closed is truly one of the most important parts.
Half the battle is finding the right putter so don’t skimp on that part of the equation. Click here to learn how to choose the right putter.
Ever since I read the book Tour Tempo and the followup, Tour Tempo 2 it’s had a big impact on my game. The second book is all about short game tempo which I never knew was different from long game tempo. Speeding up my tempo from inside 60 yards and on the greens has helped my strikes and overall consistency.
Ever since I read the book and downloaded the app I’ve shared it with my friends and fellow golf buddies too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll play with guys who have a slow tempo which leads to a jabby, non-fluid putting stroke. Using the app and/or a metronome can help you dial in your putting tempo for more consistency on the greens.
If you’re going through a putting slump, work on your tempo more than anything else. I promise it can have a big effect on gaining more confidence on the greens.
Putting is one of the most important parts of the game but oftentimes the least discussed. But when you start to master your flat stick, everything in your game can change. Plus, there’s nothing worse than hitting the ball well all day only to miss putts.
To hit consistent putts and hopefully have fewer per round make sure to:
- Record your putting stroke regularly.
- Work on your tempo consistently for a solid strike.
- Spend a lot of time practicing putts inside five feet.
- Develop a pre-shot putting routine to putt more consistently and perform under pressure.
I’m confident that when you develop a 2-1 tempo, your putting will improve faster than ever. Plus when you add in a metronome into your practice routine you’ll be more consistent than ever.