How to make a clutch 4’ putt …

by Data Driven Design, Inc. on June 03, 2021

Play enough golf and you realize that 4’ putts can make or break your round. They build or ruin confidence in a matter of seconds. Drain a few going out, and you’ll carry that confidence throughout day - in contrast, miss a few going out and the next few hours are going to be a struggle. Tour Pros make 93% of their four-footers, in tournament conditions no less, so its safe to say they log in plenty of hours honing this skill, and you should too. Statistics say the flat stick is responsible for 40% of your score (on average), and if you add that to shots inside of 100 yds, you’re talking 60% of the game. So let’s think about this logically - if you have 45 minutes to practice, we want 20 of those minutes to be putting, another 10 of those minutes to be short game shots, and the balance can be everything else. Top amateurs, collegiate players, and pros all log far more miles on the putting green than they do the range before a round. It's on the greens where scores are settled, tournaments are won, and legends are made. So how do you make four footers? Simple, practice. But aside from practice, there’s a strategy you can use to make more 4’ putts than ever - we call it spot putting. A 4’ putt is rarely a putt that you need to play outside of the hole, so statistically speaking, you’re looking to to hit your 4’ putt either dead center, inside left cup, or inside right cup. Once you’ve determined your line, the next step is to pick your spot. A dry area, a blade of grass, an old divot, essentially anything can be used as your spot as long as it’s in line with the ball and cup. The key here is picking the right spot. From there, you’re only goal is to roll the ball over the spot. Speed is always a factor, but we try to hit every 4’ putt the same - irregardless of green speed or slope. A perfectly rolled putt hits your spot and then goes in. Hypothetically speaking, if you were to miss, the ball would roll 12-18” past the hole. No more, no less. There’s enough pace to keep the ball rolling true and on line. My swing thought is 'keep the putter moving thru the ball smoothly and finish low'. Do what works best for you, and remember that the only thing that matters is hitting your spot with the correct pace. Consistently. Everytime. And now you know.

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So, I spend a lot of my range time dialing in my yardages, making sure I know exactly how far I’m hitting my wedges (48, 52, 56, 60 degree clubs). Most amateurs have tendency to think about distance as the number of their furthest shot (Eg. Johnny says he hits his wedge 120 yds, when in fact that’s his BEST wedge shot, on a perfect day, under ideal conditions.) Reality tells a much different story, and anyone who’s played competitive golf at a high level will know exactly how important acknowledging that really is.  Johnny’s REALITY is that wedge is typically goes 112 yds, with 108 of that being carry.  

Why is this so important, well, it’s the difference between clearing a greenside bunker and having a pin-high birdie putt, or a decent chance at making par after pitching out from behind a tree.  So here’s how you figure it out:

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1) Take a range finder out to the range, or better yet, your favorite flat fairway.

2) Drop 5 balls from the same distance, hit them, and see how far they go.  

3) Eliminate the longest and shortest balls from your count, and average the distance of the 3 remaining balls. 

4) Write down the results.

5) Do this first from the fairway, and then from the rough.  You should have 6 numbers. 

6) These 6 numbers are your new reality for that club.

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With numbers in hand, you should note the differences between fairway and rough averages. This is critical in understand your new 'distance reality', and it will make a huge difference in your scoring.  As an example, if your three wedge fairway balls are averaging 108 yds, and your three wedge rough balls are averaging 101, you now know that when using your wedge, you play it as a 108 yd club, unless you’re in the rough in which case you know it will go about 7 yards shorter.  If you’re in the rough of course, trying to hit it 108 yds, you’d need to club up a half club (ie. Hit your 9 iron) to reach the 108 yd. pin.

Sounds simple, right?  Well it is. You have to remember that none of us hit it exactly the distance we want all the time because there’s too many variables to manage (wind, weather, uphill, downhill, etc.) BUT knowing your ‘distance reality’ will give you an upper hand and put a lot more of your shots on the green than in the bunker.

* As with all our game improvement tips, we stand behind our guarantees so if you’re not happy with the results of our Dial-in Your Distance reality check, email us at and we’ll give you 15% off your next shirt purchase!