You never know how hard to stroke your putts or how far back you need to take your putter to roll the ball the right distance.
Why It's Happening
For one thing, it's impossible to build a stroke inventory that covers all of the putt lengths you face during a round. Plus, green speeds differ from one course to the next, placing even more emphasis on your innate sense of feel, which comes and goes for most amateurs.
Get good at rolling the ball one distance on the practice putting green before you tee off. For most players, that's 10 paces, because that's typically how far you leave the ball from the hole on approach shots from 50 to 125 yards [2008 ShotLink data for 0- to 15-handicaps].
Once you have your 10-pace stroke (make sure you get a feel for backswing length and putter speed), use it as a benchmark for every putt you read that day. Five-pace putts are easy; just hit the putt half as hard. Same for 20-pace putts; roll these at twice the force of your 10-pace putts.
When you have to figure slope into the equation, use the table at right as a guide. Your distances may be different, so try to develop your own conversion chart. With your own data and a trust in your ability to roll the ball 10 paces, you'll make a lot more putts.
10-PACE STROKE ADJUSTMENTS
|5 paces\n||Downhill||1/4 force|
|10 paces||Uphill||1 1/2 force|
|10 paces\n||Downhill||3/4 force|
|15 paces||Uphill||2x force|