Putting is one of the most difficult skills in golf to master. There's so much to it.
Golfers have to learn how to read breaks going left to right, and then they have to learn how to read grade uphill and downhill. Then they have to learn distance control with their putter, along with controlling the putter face to be square at impact. Finally, golfers have to learn the proper speed at which they should make any putt.
What's the right pace for a putt to go in the hole?
That last piece of the puzzle -- the proper make-speed for a putt -- has long been the subject of debate. Some golfers like to do what's called "die" the putt in the hole, giving it just enough speed to get over the front edge of the cup and drop for the make. There are others who prefer to jam in putts, hitting them with enough pace to easily go past the hole and expecting that a firmer putt hit with more conviction will stay true to the line more often.
However, there really is no reason for debate. Years of data and research tell us the right pace to make a putt.
The harder you hit a putt, the smaller you make the hole.
Stop trying to jam putts in the hole.
Proper speed is the key. pic.twitter.com/D4Zi7vQt5f
— Jon Sherman (@practicalgolf) December 2, 2022
The right pace to make a putt is closer to that "die" speed that just gets over the front lip than jamming it well by the hole. The reason for that is science and physics. A spherical object is traveling toward a circular cup that could be flat or cut on an angle relative to the ball's approach.
The faster the ball is going, then, the more of that sphere that has to roll over the cup for it to go in the hole. It also has less time to do so, meaning the putt has to be struck almost perfectly to go in the hole. Suddenly, a 4.25-inch hole is effectively much smaller.
The slower the ball is going as it gets to the hole, the better it is for the player because there's more time for the ball to spend over the hole and potentially drop in the cup. There are also more angles and paths by which the ball could go in the hole, making the cup truer in effective size to its actual size.
Of course, if you don't hit a putt hard enough, it will never go in the hole. In that sense, hitting putts with more pace makes sense. However, hitting putts harder and with more pace proves in the long run to be a bad trade-off between taking out some of the break in a putt and making the cup less receptive to the golf ball.