The Local Knowlege

Instruction

Weekend Tip: How to putt on bad greens

Many of you are probably still recovering from overindulging at the dinner table the past couple of days. And if you're as tired of watching football as I am, you're probably itching to work off some of those calories by getting out on the course for a quick nine or even a full round. Just one problem: The greens this time of year in the North are probably slow and bumpy. If you've headed south for some warmer weather, you'll likely face Bermuda greens that have been overseeded with Rye grass--again slower and with some grain. Here are some tips to help you make more putts, gleaned from the pages of Golf Digest:

--Remember, it's the green, not you. When you miss a putt or two that you normally would make, don't start questioning your stroke or your alignment or your green-reading skills. That only putts doubt in your mind. Tell yourself it's the condition of the greens and that everyone has the same problem. And then follow the advice below:

-- Play less break, and hit the putt firmer. Slower, bumpy greens simply don't break as much because the ball is rolling faster through most of the putt. Putts that roll slower (like on faster greens) will break more because gravity can have more effect.

-- Concentrate on hitting the putt solid.
Tom Watson has often described an image that really works for him. He says to think of a tack in the back of the ball, and he uses the putter to "tap the tack into the ball" at impact. That image ensures you'll hit the ball solidly with the sweet spot of the putter to get the ball rolling smoothly and on line. A putt hit off-center will not hold it's line as well on a fast, smooth green, and it certainly has no chance on a slower, bumpy green.

-- Leave yourself uphill putts. When the greens are bumpy or grainy, uphill putts are better than downhillers because you can hit the putt firmly, thereby reducing the effect of the green's blemishes or grain. So try to get your chips or first putts to finish below the hole. Those short putts will be a lot easier to handle.

--Hit short putts to the back of the cup. Paul Runyan used to practice three- and four-footers for hours, trying to get the ball to hit the back of the cup. One the practice green he would put a tee in the back of the cup and make the ball hit the tee. On the course, pretend there's a tee in the back of the cup. It's an effective strategy on bumpy or grainy greens.

Hope these tips help your game this weekend. We'll see you on Monday.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman

 
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