When I ask my students how they read a putt on the green the answer is usually the same: “I don’t really know.”
To help you improve your putting, I will take you through a four-stage routine that if done properly will give you the best possible chance to make an accurate read.
Stage 1 (Direction): Start from behind the ball and focus only on direction. Ask yourself three questions: Is the ball going to go straight, left to right, or right to left? Let’s imagine that our imaginary putt is from right to left.
Stage 2 (Speed): Go to the low side of the hole. This means that if you started from behind the ball and the slope breaks right to left, you will go to the left side of the hole. Again, ask yourself three questions: Is the ground sloped to go uphill, downhill or is it flat? When looking from the side, visualize three sections starting from the ball to the hole. We do this because your putt can go uphill, downhill, and flat.
Stage 3 (Confirmation / Direction): Now stand behind the hole looking back at the ball. This angle is about confirmation. Does it look the same as it did when you were standing behind the ball? When standing behind the hole it’s imperative to visually disregard the area between your feet and the hole, it has nothing to do with your current putt. If you happen to miss your putt and the ball goes past the hole, you definitely want to focus on the break and speed.
Stage 4 (Equalizer): I believe that all amateur golfers don’t play enough break because they lack the information in Stage 4. This stage allows you to read the second half of the putt, which is around the hole. Stand on the low side looking at the last five feet of the putt. Visualize that when ball starts to slow down it will break more, so it’s more influenced by the slope around the hole then when you first stroke the ball. What you are trying to determine is how much slope is around the cup.
Every player who consistently makes putts goes through this routine. It builds confidence in the stroke and improves green-reading skills.
Enjoy making more putts!
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