Great putting starts with a great imagination.
Reading putts is an exercise of that imagination. The player must imagine the effect of the terrain upon the travel of the ball.
You’ll See It When You Believe It is the title of one of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s many books. I suggest to students that they have to practice their imagination as much as their stroke.
As I show in the accompanying photos, I start this “imagination practice” by asking students to imagine where their ball will be just prior to falling into the hole. From there I ask students to imagine where the ball will be six inches before that, then a foot before that, then a foot and a half before that, then two feet … until they get to the spot from which they are practicing.
At this point I ask them to evaluate and review their imagined path to a made putt. To think about the speed they need to hit the putt to hold the line, or to fall off the line. Then I ask them to create the framework needed to set-up to the line they imagine (see the carpenter’s square and alignment stick). From here it is about practicing committed strokes for the line selected.
The biggest challenge facing golfers on the course is to commit to the line that was imagined. I can’t tell you how many times I heard students or amateur partners say they misread a putt when they actually just didn’t hit it hard enough (or occasionally soft enough) to travel down the imagined line. To practice this commitment (speed), I ask players to place a tee or a coin at the fall line, and practice making sure the ball gets to this spot on the high side.
I find students are better able to control the speed when they set-up square to the line.
This practice routing can help you believe and ultimately see more putts find the bottom of the hole.
Ron Philo, Jr. PGA, is Director of Instruction at Stowe Mountain Club in Vermont. Reach him at www.stowe.com or email@example.com