Categorized | Tips & Tricks, 2013, November 2013

The Scoring Academy: Learn to Putt like a Tour Pro

By: Michael Shelton

Learn to Putt like a Tour Pro

Capture Speed: What it is and why you need to be able to control it

Capture speed does not refer to how fast the authorities can apprehend a suspect.  To be successful on the putting green, one must be able to have a relatively consistent, optimum capture speed.  That is, the speed a ball is travelling when it reaches the front lip of the hole.  Golfers should know that the faster the ball is travelling when it gets to the hole, the smaller the usable hole becomes.  This is why when determining whether to be a charger(someone that likes to “run” the ball at the hole) or a trickler(one that likes to have the ball “die” at the hole), neither is right or wrong.  One is just not as smart as the other.

Basically, in order for the ball to fall successfully into the hole, at least ½ of the ball’s diameter, or .84 inches, must drop below the height of the lip of the cup.  As gravity has the same effect on a forward moving object as it does on an object dropping straight down, the time it takes an object to fall .84 inches is .067 seconds, or faster than snapping your fingers.  Obviously, the faster forward motion the ball has when reaching the hole, the less time it has to drop into the 4.25 inch span across the hole.  As a result, the usable hole narrows, the faster the ball is travelling when it arrives at the hole.

Capture SpeedKnowing this, we need to balance having the effective width of the hole with the speed needed to get through surface irregularities without affecting the path of the ball.  We need to also lessen the comeback distance of a potential missed putt.  Most advanced putting experts agree that the optimal capture speed, measured in distance past hole location if hole was not present, is between 2 and 3 revolutions per second.  Put simply, the ball would travel 10-15 inches past the hole location if the hole was not there.  Some variation on the actual speed of the ball occurs when referring to uphill or downhill putts, with the travel distance past the hole remaining the same 10-15 inch window.

(The illustrations show the effective hole size when the ball travels past the hole location 1-5 ft.  It is easy to see how the “effective hole” narrows considerably with more and more ball speed.  Thank you to Erik Barzeski for illustrations)

Now that we know what speed the ball should enter the cup, we can start to use visualization and drills to start developing this.

A great drill for developing touch is the “Obelisk” drill.  Stand a tee peg upside down on the green.  From various distances, attempt to putt the ball where it will just bump the tee peg without knocking it hard over.  This drill is effective in developing the “real life situation” putting skill of delivering the ball to a random target with proper speed.

Another touch drill to practice is the ½, ¾, Full Drill.  Stand at a random distance from the hole and have 3 balls.  Putt the first ball ½ the distance to the hole, the second ¾ of the distance, and the third all the way to the hole, always picturing the ball arriving at the optimal capture speed.  After a couple attempts, do the same drill with only 1 ball.  Make a practice stroke, imagining putting a ball ½ the distance.  Another practice stroke, imagining ¾ distance.  Then address the ball, and make a real stroke, putting the ball all the way to the hole, once again, visualizing the ball arriving at the optimal capture speed prior to putting the ball.  Very effective drill for longer putts.

About Michael Shelton

Michael Shelton is Golf Teaching Professional from the United States, and Director of Instruction at Tour Performance Golf in Jakarta. Has worked at top resorts in the U.S., Caribbean and most recently as Senior Instructor at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in KL. He has taught elite players, and Tour players worldwide.    Affiliations: PGA of America, Malaysian PGA, PGTAA, USGTF.     Certifications: Trackman Level II Professional, K-Vest Certified, SAM Puttlab Certified, Nike 360 certified clubfitter, PuttingZone® Master Coach and soon, the only certified instructor in Indonesia for AimPoint®, the World’s No. 1 Green Reading System.    Follow on Twitter @LeftyPro or email at:

2 Responses to “The Scoring Academy: Learn to Putt like a Tour Pro”

  1. pete robbins says:

    Hi Michael

    Our White Dragon Putter was returned to NZ today. That is eight and a half months after we posted it to you. The Indonesian postal service said it was an undeliverable address.
    Good news is that it is still in perfect condition.

  2. Faizal says:

    Very disturbing to see Michael Shelton telling yet more lies about his qualifications and experience.

    Member of PGA of America? Never, he didn’t get past the playing ability test which he continued to fail…
    Malaysia PGA? Never. Check with them…
    “Has taught elite and Tour players worldwide ” Laughable.
    Senior Instructor at KLGCC : that’s a generic term for all expat coaches, Michael was sacked after about 8 months due to his volatile nature, poor customer relations, alcohol abuse during lessons and general unpopularity and bad PR.

    Steer clear, a charlatan, imposter and generally poor advert for golf Pros.


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