Keys to making short putts easy

Dave Pelz
Leonard Kamsler
Middle-road break (normal speed), high-road break (die speed)

If breaking putts of six feet or less give you problems, consider these three things:

1) The faster you roll a putt, the less it will break. The slower you roll it, the more it will break.

2) The three break/speed options are: The high road (at die-in-the-hole speed); the middle road (normal speed); and the low road (jam-in speed).

3) It's important to choose a break/speed combination and commit to it even before you make your practice strokes.

Committing yourself to one of the three break/speed options may seem like an obvious thing to do, but many golfers don't even know they have options. Most players make a cursory read of the slope, then assume the middle-road break and normal speed for almost every putt. That's hardly the attention your putts deserve if you're interested in making more than your fair share.

Try this: On fast, downhill, sliding putts, take the high road. This means playing extra (maximum) break, but by using die-at-the-hole speed your putts will never race past the hole and leave difficult come-backers. On uphill breaking putts, take the low road. Jamming these putts to the hole allows you to play less break without fear of going too far past if you miss (although it will produce occasional lip-outs).

On pure sidehill putts, take the middle road. Play for a reasonable amount of break (check the difference in break in the photo at left), but don't change the touch for speed that you've been using.

Consider all three options when you face short breaking putts, then choose and commit to one. Mismatching speed and break, or being undecided somewhere in between, is a recipe for misses.

300 The percentage increase in the likelihood that you will three-putt going downhill, compared to your three-putt percentage when putting uphill from a similar distance. Rolling putts at proper speed is much more important on downhill putts, because any error in putt speed or energy results in a longer roll-out error in distance. This difficulty increases rapidly with increasing green speed and slope, so be on full alert the next time you face a fast downhill putt.

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