RICK SMITH

You mus­cle the first putt, miss the next

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents 2/ 15 -

Oh man, I three-putted again!

We’ve all done it: You re­ally want to make that 10-footer for birdie (or par), so you give it a good smack. But it steams by the hole, and you’ve got a four-footer com­ing back, which you leave short. You turned a good hole into a three-jack. You walk off the green mut­ter­ing to your­self, What an idiot!

To pre­vent this, think about the way great fast-green put­ters like Ben Cren­shaw and Jack Nick­laus do it. They try to roll the ball the cor­rect dis­tance, which in ef­fect makes the hole wider (so you end up sink­ing more putts). And it pre­vents three-putting. I don’t be­lieve in try­ing to roll the ball at a speed that would send it a foot or two past the cup. A lot of golfers who try to do this hit it too far by.

On down­hillers, it’s easy to let the first putt get away from you. I pic­ture another hole half to two-thirds of the way to the cup. Then I fo­cus on rolling the ball the cor­rect speed for the imag­i­nary hole. It rolls out and of­ten finds the real hole. On up­hill putts, I do the op­po­site, look­ing well past the cup.

Here’s a prac­tice drill to try. Place two tees di­rectly in front of a hole about an inch apart. Prac­tice hit­ting putts at just the right pace. No­tice how some balls graze the out­side of ei­ther tee and fall into the side of the hole. This shows that you don’t have to hit the cup dead cen­tre to make a putt, pro­vided the ball is rolling at the right speed.

“On down­hillers, putt to an imag­i­nary hole half­way there.”

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