Charge or die putting

Published 26/08/2008 20:25:30

To achieve a consistent putting game on sloping greens, it is important to know when to attack and when to defend. A firmly struck, aggressive putt aimed at the back of the hole is called a charge. For a die putt you need a more calculating, cautious approach - the aim being to roll the ball gently up to the hole so it just topples into the cup.


Your technique for hitting either a charge or die putt remains exactly the same as normal. The difference between the shots is how firmly the putt is struck and the line taken. Across a slope, a charge putt travels to the hole a along a straighter path than a die. A die should be given a wider berth.


As you hit the charge putt fairly straight, you must also strike the ball firmly to counter the effect of the slope. You have to hit a die putt on a wider line because it needs a softer strike, so the slope has more time to affect the ball's path.


Do Or Die


The decision whether to play a charge or a die putt comes with experience. Think about the slope, the state of play and the speed of the green.

Slope: Any uphill putt is a potential charge. You can afford to be bold with the shot if you know that - should you miss - the ball would not go too far past. But there is little point in charging a downhill putt, because if you miss the ball rolls well past the hole. One downhill exception is when the green is so slow that the ball can't go too far past the hole.

Hit the die instead of the charge if you have to putt across a very steep slope. A charge gathers pace on the slope and unless you hole out, the ball runs by.


State of play: You can take an aggressive approach to a downhill putt if you need a birdie to avoid losing a hole or the match. But there is no point in hitting a charge when you have the luxury of two putts to win the hole or competition, even if it's uphill. Be content to take the two putts by dying the ball at the hole.


Speed: When a green is lightning fast you should aim to die the ball at the hole. On a very slow green you can charge most putts unless it's severely downhill.


Pace and practice


Whatever your choice, judging the pace of the putt is all important. Knowing how firmly to hit a putt along different lines comes with experience. You should experiment on a practise putting green beforehand.


For both types of putt you must pick a spot to aim at. With a die putt, it's best to pinpoint a spot you want the ball to roll over between you and the hole. With a charge, choose a point level with the hole and aim to hit the ball at it. If you read the break properly the ball hits the back of the hole and drops in.


When you're deciding how hard and how wide you need to hit the ball towards the hole, it's essential to visualize the path and how the slope affects it. Being able to weight up the facts quickly and make the right decision on the putting green is vital to protect your score. Often it's a decision that must be made under pressure in a match - prepare yourself by brushing up these putting skills.

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