Marius Filmalter: How to read long putts with multiple breaks
I spent some time Wednesday at the AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia with a new student, Justin Leonard. Justin and I have crossed paths several times over the years, but we had not worked together until earlier this month when he and his long-time swing instructor Randy Smith got together in Dallas. For several years, I had wanted to get Justin to putt on the SAM Putt Lab, an ultrasound-driven device that measures 28 stroke parameters, because I consider Justin one of the better putters on tour.
Like some players, Justin did not want to get on the machine for fear that the technical results that it provided would disrupt his non-technical thoughts. At this year’s HP Byron Nelson, Justin finally agreed to be hooked up to the SAM Putt Lab as long as I promised not to share his results with him. After our session, Justin changed his mind and said he was interested in the results because he felt he wasn’t putting as well as he had in the past. Long story short, I plan to give you some access to the instruction I am providing to Justin in a future blog. Question of the WeekThis week’s putting question was from Nick A. of Melbourne, Australia. Nick asked where is the best place to aim on a long putt with multiple breaks?
Let’s imagine Nick’s “long putt” is a 40-footer that breaks to the left first and then to the right at the hole. I like players to look at this putt as being two separate putts. The first putt starts from the ball to the first break, or apex. In this case the apex is where the ball breaks to the left. The second putt starts from the first break and goes all the way to the hole. The reason I recommend you look at longer putts in two pieces is that the line you select in the first putt ultimately dictates the result of the second putt. To improve your chances of making the putt you need to get the ball rolling on the correct line of the second putt.
My point is that you need to know where the second half of the putts is going as if it were its own putt before you select the line of the first half of the putt. In Nick’s case, after he has read “both putts” I recommend that he picks an intermediate target approximately two feet in front of the ball that is on the line in which he wants the ball to roll over or through on the way to the hole. Putting to an intermediate target is much easier than trying to putt to the hole. Think about it -- is it easier to make a two-foot putt or a 40-foot putt?
After Nick picks his two-foot intermediate target, he should take a couple practice strokes looking at the hole, then address the ball focusing on his two-foot target, make a good stroke and let gravity take it from there.
Please submit any questions you have at all about putting (or short game) to email@example.com. I will be selecting a question each week to discuss for the blog. If I use your question in my blog I will send you a free copy of my newest putting DVD -- Automatic Putting.
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Until next time ... cheers!