Putt 4 Dough

Drain Putts From All Over The Green

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PLAYER'S WHO DON'T properly release the putterhead miss a lot of putts because they either hold the face open or turn it over too much through impact, pushing or pulling the putts right or left.

If that sounds like you, here’s a great drill to practice. First, set up one foot away from the hole (yes, only one foot). Next, line up your putter blade directly against the ball. From there, simply push the ball into the hole—no backswing, just push the ball into the hole. If you’ve executed this drill properly, the putterhead should finish over the hole, and its toe should be turned in slightly (see photos, right).

If your blade opens (photo at left) or closes, you may miss the hole entirely...from a foot away!
Continue to make good “push strokes” so your blade finishes over the hole and then back up a few feet and make a normal stroke. When you make a putt for real, you should feel as though the putter goes “over the cup” in front of the ball (even if the cup is just a figment of your imagination).


ONE OF THE reasons golfers have trouble gauging the right green speed is that they’re unable to make the proper pendulum-like putting stroke, where the putter travels the same distance back as it goes through. (I often see golfers make a giant backswing, then slow down at the ball, or a tiny backswing and a long followthrough. Both lead to inconsistent strikes.)

To ingrain a pendulum stroke, match your stroke to your stance width. Start with a short putt about four feet from the cup. Set your feet six inches apart, and make a practice stroke, going back to your right foot, then through to your left foot. Next set up to the ball and do the same while actually putting. Now try a longer putt—say 15 feet—and spread your feet farther apart so your longer stroke matches the longer putt. Using your feet as a reference will help you make a pendulum-like stroke and find the right speed.


TO BEST LEARN HOW YOUR PUTT WILL BREAK, start looking at the undulation as you approach the green. Look for bodies of water or depressions into which water might drain, and bunkers (into which water doesn’t drain). Sizing up the larger picture will help you narrow your focus when you squat behind your putt and look for more subtle elevation changes.

Another factor to consider is grain. While arguably the most subtle and often most difficult ingredient to consider when reading greens, grain can play a huge factor in how fast or slow your putts are.

Toward the end of the day, in particular, keep an eye out for how the grass grows toward the sun and factor that into your putt’s speed. Putts going into the grain slow down; putts down-grain speed up.

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