“Stay below the hole!” is a phrase often associated with almost every golf course we all play. If we were all talented enough to hit our approach shots below the hole, we would all be playing golf for a living.
It is inevitable that all golfers of all abilities will three putt on occasion. At some point during a round of golf while on the green, a golfer is faced with a 30-40 foot, downhill, putt with three to four feet of break. Although we are trying to make every putt we are faced with, it is important not to hit the ball three to five feet short or too far past the hole. Therefore, it may be wise to concentrate on getting the ball close to the hole (three-foot diameter circle around the hole) rather than focusing on trying to make it.
Almost all greens we play are severely sloped from back to front with extreme and /or subtle undulations. In order to hit the perfect, you must have both the correct line and speed. I will give you two drills which will help you in perfecting both of these key elements to a perfect putt (Line and Speed).
Line Drill: Place a dime on a flat surface. From three to five feet away, place your putter behind the ball with the face of the putter in contact with the ball. Without making a backstroke, push the ball towards the target (dime) with the face of the putter staying in constant contact with the ball. If your putter face opens (heel of putter in front of the toe), the ball will miss to the right of the target. If the putter face closes (toe of the putter in front of the heel), the ball will miss left of the target. While doing this drill, make sure that the putter stays as low to the ground as and is in contact with the ball as long as possible.
Speed Drill: Take three golf balls no more than two feet from a hole on the putting green. (Try to find a flat area). Hit all three balls in the center of the hole at three different speeds. The first ball strike firmly, where it hits the back of the hole and drops in. The second ball, medium, where it drops right in the center of the cup without touching any of its edges. The third ball should just barely trickle over the front edge of the cup. After doing this drill 20-30 times, you will begin to get a feel for how far a ball rolls with different length back strokes.
The next time you are faced with that dreaded 40 footer, try to focus more on speed rather than line. If you get the ball to come to rest within a three-foot diameter circle around the hole, you are less likely to three putt and will score much better. Always remember, Par is a good score!
Troy Youngren is the PGA Head Golf Professional at The Links@Cobble Creek and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.