One of the most common debates in the golf world is whether line or speed is more important in putting.
Some say that if you don’t have the right line you’ll miss more putts than you will make. While others say that speed is more important.
Today we’ll talk about how both line and speed are important in putting so you can drain more putts.
So, is speed or picking the right line more important?
Our answer – it depends on the length of the putt as it’s not one size fits all answer.
But I like what Jason Day said about the importance of speed in this Golf.com article.
“When your speed is off, your subconscious mind starts playing games with you: ‘Hey, man, did you hit that off the toe? Did you decelerate? Was your backstroke too short?’
That’s a lonely place to be. Eventually, you’ll start unnecessarily tinkering with your stroke.”
- Speed and line both play an important role in making putts.
- On shorter putts, the line is typically more important than speed.
- On longer putts speed is more important than picking the right line.
Keep reading to learn more about the role of speed and line when it comes to making more putts.
Short putts are some of the easiest shots in golf and can help you lower your handicap fast. When you’re making putts from short range with consistency it seems to free up the rest of your game too.
So, how do you make more short putts?
Picking the right line is key but ironically that also depends on speed. For example, if you have an 8-foot putt that has a little bit of left to right break you can play it several ways.
The first way is to remove some of the break and play it more inside the hole. In this example you might play to start the putt at the left edge and hit it firmly so it goes in the middle of the cup.
The other way to make this putt is to play it closer to a half ball or ball outside the hole as the starting line. Then have more of a dying speed so it drips in and takes the break more and hopefully falls in the cup.
But that’s not to say speed isn’t important either. You can have the perfect read but if you leave the putt short it has zero chance of going in the hole.
The ideal miss for any putt is about 18 inches past the hole.
At this speed the ball isn’t traveling so fast that it will lip out or burn an edge and end up 3–4 feet from the hole. It’s traveling slow enough to take the break and if your read is off it’ll still be an easy tap in.
So yes, the short putts line is important but it also depends on the speed you’re hitting it. This is why it’s crucial to find your putting style on the greens.
Some golfers – like Tiger Woods or Brooks Koepka – prefer to hit short putts harder. This makes it easier to play putts straighter and remove some of the break. But if they miss it can lead to some nasty lip outs and long comeback putts.
Other golfers like to play more of a dying approach and less aggressive with speed. These golfers need to play more break because when the putt is losing speed it’ll break more.
Mid-length putts are defined as 10–30 footers.
Statistically speaking, you’re not going to make a lot of these putts… even the best players in the world don’t. The make rate from 10 feet on the PGA Tour is about 40% and drops significantly for every foot further from the hole.
The goal with these length putts is to have a combination of speed and line.
Unlike short putts you can’t really try to hammer these putts to remove the break. You need a good mix of speed and distance control to make them or give yourself an easy tap in.
From this distance it’s important to have a consistent green reading routine. When you’re confident on how a putt will break it’ll make it easier to pick the right speed and hopefully hit a good putt.
My biggest tip from this range is to make sure you always commit to the break or start line. One of the biggest mistakes so many golfers make is not picking a line which leads to a lot of indecision. Not picking a line can lead to hitting a putt too soft and leaving yourself a lengthy second putt.
Pick a line, even if it’s the wrong line so you hit the putt with the right speed and have an easy tap in if you do miss the first one.
The final type of putt to consider is lag putting which are putts longer than 30-feet. This is the distance where speed is everything. The wrong distance here could lead to the dreaded 3 putt.
As Jason Day said in the same Golf.com interview, “I stress speed all the time, more so than line. Say, for instance, you don’t have the correct line but you have the correct speed.
As professionals, we will never miss left or right more than two, three feet at the absolute most. So if you’re hole-high then you’re still not far away—that’s an easy two-putt.”
Managing expectations from a long range is also key. The truth is you’re not going to make a lot of putts from long range. Once you’re outside about 30 feet a lot of times you’re more likely to three putt than actually make a putt.
This is why speed control is so important from long range. Even if you’re way off on the read, if you have the right speed you’ll have a 2-3 footer which you’ll make 99% of the time.
As you can tell speed is very important when it comes to all length putts. Here are some tips to help you improve your speed control.
- Keep your lower body stable. If you move your lower body you’re more likely to hit the putt anywhere but the center of the face. This can lead to a lot of putts well short of the hole.
- Commit to a read. Never skip reading the green or you’ll likely stand over the putt with doubt and indecision. Pick a read and stick with it when you’re over the golf ball.
- Spend more time before the round on the putting green. While the driving range is an important part of your warm-up routine, don’t skimp on the putting green. Spend more time working on 30–40 footers to dial in your speed control.
Do you have more questions about putting? If so, keep reading through the most frequently asked questions and answers now.
Both are important, it just depends on the length of the putt. Shorter putts place more of a premium on the proper line but still need the right speed as well.
Longer putts are more about speed even if your read of the green is off. This is why it’s a good idea to spend a lot of time during your warm-up and practice working on lag putting.
Yes and no. Some pros use a line or marking to get all their putts started on the proper line. Others prefer a no line method and like to react to the target more than focus on a line.
There are some good benefits to using a line however it’s important to practice with a line so you’re confident on the course. I’ve found that sometimes using a line can complicate things and create doubt if the line doesn’t feel good when you’re over the golf ball. This is why it’s important to practice your routine in practice too.
The short game (anything inside 60 yards) including chipping, pitching, bunkers, and putting is 2:1 according to the book Tour Tempo 2. The authors also published the best-selling book Tour Tempo which stressed the importance of a 3:1 tempo for the full swing.
However, the short game requires different timing to hit these shots well. Download the Tour Tempo app or use a metronome app on your phone to improve your putting tempo.
Learn more about putting tempo here.
When reading a putt it’s essential to figure out if it’s uphill, downhill, or relatively flat. The slope of the putt will determine how hard you should hit it and also impact the line.
For example, if a putt is uphill and breaking left to right you can hit it a little firmer and remove some break. But if you have a downhill right to left putt you’ll need to hit it softer and play more break for the dying speed.
The sooner you can become confident on the greens the sooner you can become a consistent and better golfer. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years on my putting and it’s made such a big impact on my scoring averages.
The biggest things that have helped my putting are:
- Choosing the right putter.
- Start my stroke with a forward press motion.
- Doing a putter fitting session to tweak the loft and lie angle.
- Testing out lining putts up with a line or the arrows on the ball vs. no line/arrows.
- Develop a consistent putting routine where I spend less time over the golf ball (about six seconds).
Putting is a complex and misunderstood part of the game but it’s worth your time. Invest in an indoor putting green and make putting practice a regular part of your warm-up routine to get the speed dialed in.
Test out everything in practice to see what suits your putting style the most. Once you find the style that works best for you and stick with it!
If you want some more help with putting check out these articles:
- What is Heads Up Putting?
- Devil Ball – How to Make Practice Hard
- Breaking Ball Putting Mat – How to Practice Breaking Putts
Do you think speed or line is more important in putting?
Let us know in the comments below.