Have 10 minutes? Do this Pro-approved drill to perfect your putting

sam burns putting

Burns has ranked no worse than 10th in SG: Putting his last three seasons on Tour.

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Unless you play golf for a living, practice is something that’s generally in short supply. For the most part, weekend golfers would rather spend time on the course over grinding on the range. If you’re going to choose the latter and spend time on the range, it’s important to have a goal or purpose behind the shots you’re attempting to execute.

The same goes for rolling putts on the practice green. It’s easy to throw a few balls down and spend 10 minutes working on nothing in particular. Putting practice can be mindless if we’re being completely honest. And the problem with mindless practice is it generally leads to issues on the course — like speed control.

According to 5-time PGA Tour winner Sam Burns, speed control is without a doubt the biggest issue plaguing the amateur golfers he’s regularly paired with during pro-ams. At the highest level of professional golf, matching speed and line is imperative if you want to make putts on greens with speeds in excess of 11 feet.

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So how do you work on consistently getting the ball to the hole like a pro to reduce the chance of a three-putt? During a recent episode of GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast, Burns offered his best tip for improving speed control. The best part is you only need 10 minutes to get better.

“A lot of times with amateurs, their speed is inconsistent,” Burns said. “They’ll hit it way too hard, and then they’ll hit it way too soft. If you have 10 minutes before you go play, take three balls and start at 10 feet, try to get them to the hole and 2 feet past. If you can do that, move back to 15 feet. Then go to 20 feet. You get a feel for the speed of the greens that day. You’re also working on the consistency of the same stroke over and over. That’s a great place to start for speed control.”

If you’re wondering why Burns is stressing the importance of getting the ball just beyond the hole, it’s because you generally have a better chance of making a putt when you don’t leave it consistently short, something amateurs do at an impressive clip.

In a 2021 GOLF.com story on lag putting, analytics expert Mark Broadie revealed pros leave just 7 percent of their 10-footers short. That number increases to 17 percent for weekend golfers (more than twice as many) on the same 10-footer. Getting the ball beyond the hole sounds easy, but track how many times you actually do it during the next round.

Instead of simply trying to make a bunch of 15-footers on the practice green, do what Burns is suggesting and dial in your stroke for common lengths. See if you can’t give yourself more putts inside 3 feet. It’s one of the best ways to instantly lower your scores — and it only takes 10 minutes to start making meaningful improvements.

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at jonathan.wall@golf.com.