A meaningful practice stroke takes the challenge out of new breaks and speeds

A meaningful practice stroke takes the challenge out of new breaks and speeds

The stroke you use to putt the ball should be an exact replica of a perfect preview stroke.
Leonard Kamsler

The holes you play on your home course provide you with consistent full-swing challenges week in and week out because the fairways and landing areas are set in stone. This story changes, however, once you reach the greens. Pin positions move, winds blow, grass grows, seasons and green speeds change. And you seldom hit shots to—or putt from—the same positions on any of those greens. As a result, almost every putt you face is a completely new and unique experience that demands a unique aim and stroke. To help get a better feel for the new putts you'll face, start using your practice strokes to provide a "preview" of the stroke you want to make before you actually execute it. Here's how:

1. As you look along the line of your putt during your first practice stroke, ask yourself, "Will this stroke roll the ball along my line and into the hole at good speed?" If your mind's eye says, "Yes, I like it," then move in and use it to roll the actual putt.

2. If you didn't like the first practice stroke, change your speed and try another one. Again, see how it feels. You're looking for a stroke that you feel will match your putt's speed to the chosen line.

3. Once you can say "That's it," make it the "preview" of the stroke you want to make. You've felt the stroke and seen the ball roll into the hole. Now just do it again!

In the picture above I'm stroking a real putt, but the "preview" stroke that I made looked exactly the same. Use this habit of creating a meaningful preview stroke both during practice and on the course, and I'm sure you'll start holing more putts.

For more tips from Dave Pelz, visit his homepage on Golf.com.

This article first appeared in the February 2012 issue of Golf Magazine. The February issue is on newsstands and the tablet version is available for free for magazine subscribers on iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, Nook Color and Samsung Galaxy Tab. Learn more