Focus On The Break
Allow for more curve, and get the speed right
A long putt usually has some sort of break because greens are rarely built flat. Weekend golfers tend to underplay break, and the ball never has a chance of going in. If anything, I will overplay a long, curving putt. Remember, the faster the green, the more break you have to allow for because the ball will roll more slowly as it trickles toward the hole.
To set up for a long putt, I first try to determine how much the putt will curve. I look for the absolute outside or top of the break and aim at a point that far out to the side of the hole. I pick a spot that is hole high to make sure I hit the putt with the correct amount of speed.
Here, my putt breaks right-to-left by about five feet, which serves as my aiming point.
One tip that will help you read greens is to look at the putting surface's contours as you approach the hole. You'll get a better feel for how much a long putt will break.
Once on the green, I quickly check the putt from the usual angles. I get as low as possible (although, at my age, not as low as Camilo Villegas).
MORE THOUGHTS FROM TOM
Choosing a line and your aim are important, but being decisive with your stroke is key, too. Focus on making a good, solid hit every time to develop confidence. Doubt is never associated with good putting. You have to believe you're going to make it.
Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Playing Editor and the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.