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Here's my 2 cents. My best year of putting was years ago when I paid a coach for help. His advice was to stick 2 tee's into the ground just beyond the width of my putter head and put a ball between them. Pace off 20 feet from there and mark it. No hole. Then proceed to make 10 putts along the line toward the 20 foot mark. Since I had paid for this information I did it a lot . I didn't analyze it, I just repeated it whenever I could. I began making more putts.
I have no doubt that if one practices a solid putting stroke through whatever method, they will make more putts. If nothing else, they will make putts because they are practicing putting.
But is it sustainable? How's your putting since that year?
Pretty good as long as I relax. I have been using a slightly open stance and a more relaxed grip. I like to feel the putter release slightly through contact. I can miss a 2 footer if I get tense, but at the same time a relaxed 6 - 20 footer has a good chance. I just got done playing several rounds on bermuda greens which had the added difficulty of grain. Kind of stumped me.
When I had that year I was still working so I would make it a point to practice whenever I could since I didn't have time for a full round all the time and I wanted to be at my best when I did. Now I'm retired so I play more than I practice and as a result my game has fallen off. I'm still enjoying it though because my playing partners are at the same level so it's no big deal.
Sometimes I think I should get back to practicing more regularly because when I do I see instant improvement. This happens when I am on vacation playing at a course with unlimited practice balls and nice practice greens. I go early and spend 1 or two hours.
When I got an over sized putter grip it instantly reduced my grip pressure which did improve my stroke .
I also worked on matching my putting stroke with the putter I was using and started using the same ball so it felt and sounded the same off the putter face.
VJ Singh a few years ago went from being a terrible putter to one of the best for a short period and he started winning again.
He was asked how he improved his putting so fast he said he kept telling himself he was the best putter in the world until he started believing it lol
CONFIDENCE goes a long way with putting.
The last couple days I went back and read putting threads, and I started watching Shawn's putting videos again. Putting has been the single biggest issue that's kept me from getting things to the next level. I looked back at some of my score cards and the three-putts have really hurt my scores. It's especially frustrating when I see a three-putt on a hole where I've made a birdie on more than one occasion in the past, and also on holes that I've had a harder time getting on the green in two, and then when I finally did, I mess it up with poor putts.
Anyway, putting practice is an area that I've neglected. A dozen putts on the practice green before a round just isn't enough. But I think more than just the putting stroke, I really need to learn how to read the greens. I'm frequently surprised at how much a putt will break. I'll often say to myself, "I can't believe that putt did that, that's unbelievable." I've only done green reading visually in the past, but I'm watching again Shawn showing how to find the "fall line" with the "donkey around the pole" method by walking around the hole. I don't know how well I'll be able to feel the subtle differences in the green with my feet, but I'm going to start practicing this method to hopefully help me get a better feel for how much the putt will break and where I need to start the putt.
One question I have here is how much time is acceptable/reasonable to spend on reading a green during an actual round? I've always had a tendency to "golf" (not swing) fast. And I feel that I need to slow down in general and take my time a little more in assessing a shot, but mostly taking enough time to get a good read on the putting green. However, I don't want to go to the other extreme either by taking too long as I don't want to become the guy who frustrates others with "slow play." So how much time do you guys spend reading the green before a putt?
As we have all come to know and understand, PUTTING is a very different game all unto itself!
We've all been there....
To answer your final question, there IS no answer to your question.
We all owe it to ourselves to gather enough information about the putt that has presented itself to us so that we have a chance of getting it somewhere near the hole.
If I know that there's a TWO-group WAIT on the NEXT tee, I'm apt to take longer reading my putt. Makes no sense to make it a THREE-group wait on the next tee?
But we do owe it to others to do so in an timely and efficient fashion.
The point is that Green-Reading STARTS well before it is YOUR turn to putt.
1. One can acquire a good deal of information on the general slope of the green as we APPROACH the green. (if one is paying attention; rather than BS-ing with our playing companions?)
2. I fully understand that this is not by-the-book WIG, but I ALWAYS PACE my putts.
KNOWING (rather than "guessing") how many feet it is to the hole, seems to help me (over time) hone in on the amount of "Energy" that'll be required.
A side-benefit of pacing is that, by definition, you will at some point (either at the "front-end" of your pace or the "back-end" of your pace; depending upon in which direction was the most expedient?) find yourself in the immediate proximity to the hole. Good opportunity for "donkey-around-the-pole", or some abbreviated version thereof.
At the end of the day, the basic purpose of "donkey-around-the-pole" is to determine the fall-line around the hole, and therefore the direction the putt will break as it loses speed.
How many times in the course of a round are YOU the one that REMOVES the flag-stick from the hole?
Good opportunity for "donkey-around-the-pole".
Be aware of your surroundings and take advantage of the natural opportunities that present themselves.
I generally have acquired my "pacing-data" without my playing companions even NOTICING?
3. PAY ATTENTION when your playing-companions are putting! Even if they're no where near YOUR line?
Regardless of the direction from which the ball approaches the hole, the SLOPE AT the hole can reveal itself to you.
(besides that, it's polite to pay attention?)
4. KEEP RECORDS of your putting activity. It's easier than you think.
Interpreting some form of historical record of ACTUAL performance will trump faulty memory every time.
Your records will reveal to you if your "problem" is that you tend to miss "short" putts, or if your LAG-putting is so poor that you seldom leave yourself any "short" putts to MISS?
My most recent 5-year averages (per round) for those statistics that I keep are:
Total Putts: 32.4
Birdies/3-putts: 1.31 / 1.04
Up & Down: 41%
I offer this information NOT as an indication of "good/bad" or "proficient/inefficient", but as an indication of what you CAN capture if you try.
It sounds like a daunting task, but the raw data can be collected in just THREE boxes on your scorecard!
5. Practice "known" putts on the Practice green.
I firmly believe that one's proficiency at "reading putts emerges from EXPERIENCE; not PRACTICE.
If you miss a putt during your practice activity, did you mis-READ it? Or mis-EXECUTE?
Take the time and hit the SAME putt several times. Can you hit it where you're INTENDING?
You now KNOW the line/speed......did you make it? If not? Execution is your problem; not green-reading.
Gives you something to work on.
If you continually hit "random" putts on the practice green, eventually you'll get pretty good at reading THAT green.
When's the NEXT time that you'll have THAT putt out on the COURSE?
All you're doing is learning how the PRACTICE green breaks....
If you've read this far, you are a true friend. Thank you.