How to read the line of a putt

Published 10/03/2010 07:14:00

This is the real secret to putting. Despite how a putt may break, you should visualise each one as a straight line, and think about hitting it only along that straight line.

Let's say the green slopes from right to left. To compensate for this, pick a spot to the right of the hole. The line from your ball to this imaginary hole is the line of your putt. A ball hit down this line will curve with the slope and drift down to the actual hole, providing you hit it with the correct pace.


Pick your spot

That's the only tricky part. Depending on the speed of the green and the severity of the break, you have to make a judgement about how far from the actual hole you visualise your line, and how hard you hit the ball down that line.

The beauty of this method is that all the putts you hit are straight, rather than bending, which is a hard concept to deal with mentally. Also, once you pick a spot along the line where you think the ball will begin to curve towards the hole, you've simplified things. Aim at that mark, making sure you hit the ball hard enough to reach it and then get beyond your imaginary hole.

Of course, the rest is once again down to practice and feel. You will probably also have to consider other factors, such as uphill and downhill slopes and the grain of the grass.


Long putts

You should approach every putt with confidence. But a measure of reality is essential as well. Even the best golfers miss more than their share of putts over six feet, and once you are over that range, the odds of making more than a handful are down to a lot of luck as well as skill.

So on very long putts, think in terms of getting the putt close, rather than holing it. The important thing is remain confident, yet sensible. Knock a good putt up the hole, and then sink the next one. Now you've probably made par, or bogey at worse. But a three-putt is too costly, no matter how many strokes you took to get to the green.

From over 20 feet, visualise a circle around the hole of about three feet in diameter. Aim to leave the ball in that area. Thinking this way takes a great deal of pressure off your stroke, and should you make the long putt, consider it a bonus.


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