Lesson TeeMarch 14, 2011

How To Make The Important Putts

It's more than just having a good stroke

High Side: Amateurs miss the majority of putts on the low side. Stay high, and give your ball a chance.

High Side: Amateurs miss the majority of putts on the low side. Stay high, and give your ball a chance.

Yes, you have to hit putts solidly and with the face square to be consistent on the greens. But a reliable, technically sound stroke is only one piece of the putting puzzle.

The only way to take advantage of good technique is to be able to read greens accurately and aim the putter correctly. Then you can get the ball going on the right line. Start by looking at the entire green before channeling your attention to your putt. Imagine dumping a big bucket of water on the green. What direction would that water run off? That's going to tell you a lot about what your ball will do.

Another trick is to identify the nearest straight putt to the one you have. The farther you are from the straight putt, the more your putt is going to break. As a rule, play a little more break than you think; most putts miss low.

Speed is even more important than line: Try to roll the ball so it dies in the hole. The cup is more forgiving when the ball is rolling slowly.

HANK HANEY, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, runs the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head.