Monday, October 21, 2013

Why Reading a Putt Shouldn't Be An Art Form

Golfers are often guilty of over-complicating the process of how to read a putt. With so much advice running through our heads, its often a wonder we even manage to get to hit the putt:

What's the lie of the land?
Bend down behind the ball to have a look at the line
Is it uphill or downhill?
Take look from the side
Look at the putt from behind the hole
Study the break of your partner's putt
Does the green have any grain?
Is there dew on the ground?
Balls break towards the water don't they?
Line up the logo on the ball to the target
Take a practice putt from behind
Another practice putt at address
Hit the putt five feet past the hole
Repeat

If we did everything we see the pros do and then took every piece of advice we read in magazines and game improvement websites, we'd probably still be lining up our putt on the 1st hole whilst our partners have played the front nine.

The truth is reading a green shouldn't be conducted in some scientific manner. Golfers might just be better off assuming each putt was straight - can we really see that inch or two of slope? Putting is all about distance control, and it's more important to get this right before over-analysing the line of a putt.

When putting, and it doesn't matter whether you take 5 seconds over a putt or five minutes, most of us are still left with the nagging feeling: we make far less putts than we think we should.

Its worth noting that the average pro only makes about 6% of all putts from outside 20 feet. The real difference they have, is ensuring they two putt every other time (i.e. great distance control). So taking minutes rather than seconds over a putt won't make you into a fantastic putter. It'll just make you a slow player.

What the teachers say:

Hank Haney has a simple piece of advice which takes away the worry of line and concentrates more on the pace of a putt: "The next time you play, approach your mid and long-range putts thinking about a line behind the hole more than the break. This is the more important line in putting, and I visualize it a foot and a half behind the cup, like a little backboard. Try it. If you don't make it, you'll have a tap-in"

Bob Rotella tells us to not worry about missing, so long as we have decided on a line, imagined the ball rolling in, grip lightly and let the hands find the perfect pace. Do all of these right and still miss it? Don't worry about it, for all of the 70,80,90 or 100 shots we play on the golf course, we can only hole 18 of them.

For most golfers reading a green should start as they walk toward it. Much of the green's major slopes should be identifiable immediately. The weight of a putt is infinitely more important than the line, because without a properly weighted putt the line becomes redundant.

So when 'reading' a green, much like a piece of contemporary modern art, try not to 'read' too much. A putt isn't a Picasso, its just a ball, the hole and a good judge of distance.

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This article was written by Ross Starkey.  Ross is wannabe golfer who always dreamed of being a great golfer.  Ross is also a freelance writer and professional blogger and is part of the team at http://www.pros4golfers.com.