Tips From the Pro: The Best Putter Wins!

Chris Oleson, is the teaching pro at the University of Maryland Golf Course in College Park, MD.  He is a contributing author to the  Tips from the Pro Column.

PGA Tour has been great! Tiger finally gets a win. The Masters already has loads of story lines- Tiger, Phil, Rory, Luke, Justin, Ricky, etc.

I just returned from the World Scientific Congress of Golf. I’d like to share some statistics and give you a tip on how to play like the pros. The best putter wins! Statistically, Luke Donald is the best putter. The PGA Tour is measuring putting performance better now, (putting strokes gained). They have probability stats of putts made from last year. For example, if an 8’ putt is made 50% of the time the player who makes it gets +.5 psg, the player who misses gets -.5 or loses a psg. If a 20’putt is made 20% of the time a player getst +.8 psg, if they miss, its -.2 psg. Its important to understand tour players don’t make every putt in fact they make fewer than you’d think. However, they rarely 3 putt; when a putt comes up short on line they are not upset. They know their odds are not very high outside of 10’.  Dave Pelz proved a robot was 75% from 15’. Good putters control their distance. The key to distance control is good rhythm and tempo. The hole is the biggest the slower the ball is rolling when it gets there. I tell all my students distance is the most important. Spend some time putting only focusing on your rhythm and tempo, have a cadence 1..2 or 1….2 or 1.2. Resist the temptation to add effort at the ball.

Drill #1 Take 2 balls and try to roll them the same distance, take the putter away a certain distance (outside your right foot) and let the putter swing through the same distance. The putter wants to swing through the same distance, if you let it.

Drill#2 Put a dime on the green and try to get the ball to “stop on a dime.” This drill is great for distance control. I think you will see players try to stop the balls near the holes at the Masters. I am always amazed at how many first putts come up short on the PGA Tour. You rarely see a tour player roll the ball by the hole more than 3’-4’.

I’ll talk to you after the Masters.

Chris Oleson, PGA
TPI Certified, Putting Zone Coach and K-vest Certified teaches at Paint Branch and the University of Maryland.
Chris can be reached at,