Best to Practice Making, Not Missing, Putts

By Carlson, Ozzie | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), August 27, 2012 | Go to article overview

Best to Practice Making, Not Missing, Putts


Carlson, Ozzie, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


When you walk onto the practice putting green, do you practice making putts, or practice missing putts? When I observed the players at The Barclays on the putting green, unbelievably, they collectively missed approximately 70 percent of their practice putts.

What does practicing missing putts do to our score, to our confidence, to our attitude as we step over a putt we need to make? Nothing good. So what's the solution?

There are two things we do with every putt, and only two we can do: we start the ball out on a line at a speed. The art of putting is to find the line and the speed (read the green) and to deliver both consistently. Easier said than done.

So, when you warm up your putting, you need to accomplish the following: find/feel your on-line stroke, find/feel your speed stroke and determine the speed of the greens. Only after you have accomplished these tasks should you begin putting to a cup, i.e. try to make putts. Why?

Let's understand the putting equation: line + speed + read + performance = result. We all know from our elementary math that to solve an equation we can have only one unknown variable. So in your warm-up, once you have found and can consistently deliver (perform) your line and speed stroke, the only remaining variable is "read." Now when you miss or make a putt you know that you simply misread it.

We can readily see, then, that the best way to become a better reader of greens is to fix the variables of line, speed and your ability to deliver both consistently.

Here is a very simple, but absolutely great way, to warm up your putting stroke when you walk onto the putting green. First, find an old filled-in cup and look around it to find a direction you can roll putts which is flat.

Alternatively, stick two tees into the green just less than the distance apart of the length of your putter face. Place one of four balls 15 inches from the center of that replaced cup (or the two tees) and stroke a putt (in the flat direction), swinging your putter back and through at its own natural speed (natural pendulum speed). So your stroke is 15 inches back and 15 inches through, e.g. your putter face finishes squarely in the dead center of the cup (nudges both tees simultaneously). …

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