Updated: Feb 22, 2019
While direction is certainly important, and perfect harmony between direction/distance is key to making putts consistently, I am firmly planted in the school of thought that considers distance control the more important aspect. If you are struggling with distance control - leaving putts short or blowing them by - this is for you.
I often see amateur golfers make an abbreviated backswing with their putter and transition to a quick, jerky forward motion. It is very difficult to develop consistent distance control with this type of putting stroke. Our goal, here, should be to create a smoother stroke with better tempo.
Creating better tempo, DRILL:
Drop a few balls down 15-20 feet from a cup. Place a tee in the ground 8-10" behind the ball (slightly off to the side of your stroke so you don't clip the tee with your putter on the backswing). Place another tee in a similar way 8-10" in front of the ball (again, slightly off to the side so you don't strike it). Think about the pendulum on a grandfather clock. Notice how it swings with perfect tempo from left-to-right and back to the left. Put this mental video on 'loop' in your mind as you address the ball. Take the putter back smoothly in one consistent motion toward the tee you placed in the ground. The putter should complete its backswing over the tee and transition forward, striking the golf ball, and coming to a stop over the tee you placed in the ground in front of you.
once you feel you tempo has improved and you've removed the jitters and jerks from your putting stroke, move to this drill:
Take one golf ball and drop in 2 paces from the collar of the green/fringe. Make a stroke toward the collar with the intent of stopping the ball against the taller fringe grass (and not rolling through the fringe into the rough). If you leave the putt short of the collar or roll through the fringe, make the putt from 2 paces again. If you are successful, move back to 3 paces and make a putt toward the collar with the same intent. If you fail, stay at 3 paces until you succeed. If you succeed, move to 4 paces from the fringe. Continue in this manner until you reach 10-15 paces from the collar (likely concluding with putts the vary from 25-40 feet).
"Take 10 minutes to run through the collar drill anytime you play a new golf course. The greens are different from course to course (type of grass, speed, grain, etc.). This drill will help you acclimate to the green speeds very quickly."