You muscle the first putt, miss the next
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.”