It’s time to get to work…on the most important putt you can possibly practice! So WHY the 4 foot putt? Why not 3’, lag putts, 10-20’ putts?
There are several things you must understand about a 4 foot putt. First, PGA Tour Players make 92% of them on average and one player made 100% of them so far in 2021. That’s an incredible number considering they have well north of 100 putts from 4’ every year! Second, 4 feet is a common leave for a lot of players when you miss the green. We would all love to wedge it inside a 3’ circle but the reality is the ball will settle at that range a lot so we need to get really good at it. Third, after 11 years of teaching and coaching, I’ve found that this is the putt that tends to make players the most uncomfortable. It’s not short enough to feel like a tap in, and it’s not long enough to lower expectations of its makeability.
With that said, this leads me to my final and most important reason…
4’ is the distance at which matching your speed and line become critical. You certainly still have the option to die it in, or firm it in the back of the cup, but this is the point at which you can no longer hide. Your precision to start the ball on your intended line with the appropriate speed becomes evident at this distance. If you are just a little off the ball begins to catch the edges of the hole, your nerves take over, and you begin to miss putts. At this distance, you can work on the basics of green-reading, speed control, and direction control while also making a lot of putts.
Poor putters almost always don’t make enough putts in their practice. They spend a lot of time working on their technique and putts outside of this range. Confidence can only be developed under situations where you are both challenged and can have success. That’s what practicing 4’ putts allows you to do. 3’ is too easy, and 5’ you miss too many. So here’s my advice on how to practice this.
Quick sidebar: when practicing your putting please do not stand in the same spot and hit putts over and over again (5 from any one spot is enough) to help care for the practice green so that you and others have great turf to putt from year in and year out!
Set 5 tees around the hole in a circular pattern at 4’. Take ONE BALL, go through your full routine on EVERY putt and hit a total of 50 putts. Record how many you make out of 50 and work to improve your score every week. Want to make it harder? Change holes every 10 balls and change slopes from easy to hard. You want to create a practice environment that mimics course play so changing up the place you putt from often is a vital component to achieving success on the course!
Make this drill your sole focus for the month of September and I guarantee you to make more putts and have more confidence on the greens! Good luck!