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Avoid practicing golf putting the wrong way

Updated on April 28, 2016

Sinking the next putt . . .

. . . is the number one objective for all golfers and practice is the best tool to reach that objective. But, does practicing always work? Perhaps not! It's more likely that we reach success if we care about finding smart ways to practice and discard time killers that don't add nothing sustainable to what we already do. Smart work is better than working hard.

Why we are here

> Having written several articles and 2 eBooks about golf putting I feel it is my responsibility to regularly check what is happening around that subject: news, articles, videos, discoveries, ideas, etc. Of course it would be a waste of time if I didn't have some acid tests that help me find out what is worth the time to have a look and what isn't.

> I'm comfortable when the subject is golf putting but what I really like is to study, read and discuss about breaking putts.

> I recently found a curious video with a drill designed to help in golf putting, namely, with breaking putts. Please note that I have nothing to do with the video and am not promoting it.

> I watched the video more than once (and this is not usual) and felt a bit uncomfortable as I did it. At first sight it seemed honest and made with good intentions and the drill was acceptable but some of my acid tests were rejecting it.

> I checked for efficiency, for benefits provided and for skills sharpened by that drill and ended up not very optimistic about it.

> However, I found it could be very useful to help golfers see how to practice golf putting the wrong way and to let them know that we must look with a critical eye to everything that comes through the Net.

Let's see the video:

Is this a good putting drill?

Turning a critical eye to this drill

> As you have seen this is a classic drill to putt from growing distances, spiced by the fact that the hole is on a mildly sloping area. This is an interesting detail that could have been used to make that drill very useful. But it hasn't!

> The player sunk the first couple of putts because they were short and he putted aggressively. The next ones were also successful but it was clear that there was some break to consider. And, finally, trouble came.

> The problem was not the missed putts. Everybody, even golf pros, miss straight and breaking putts shorter than those ones. For me, the issue was that the player just repeated the putt without getting any benefit from the previous missed putts. What's the purpose of that drill? To become an expert putting around that specific hole? Is that useful?

Paying attention to details

What is wrong, in my opinion:

1. There was no putt reading before the drill started. How can a player expect to be successful if he tries a breaking putt without a previous assessment of that putt?

2. The player made all the putts the same way (aiming the hole) without considering that his position towards the fall line changes every time he moves from one spot to the next. And he was not alerted to that fact.

3. When he missed the putt he insisted putting again in the same way. If he hasn't any background about breaking putts he should, at least, try to understand what went wrong in the previous attempt, namely, if it was a misalignment or an unnoticed break.

4. Any drill to be effective should always have a clear objective: correcting a flaw, providing a skill, etc. In this video I couldn't find any of that.

5. As a consequence of the previous item, the player gave up after he reached the second spot where he was not successful in the first attempt. His mind concluded that he didn't improve a bit till that point and all the putts ahead were more difficult than the previous ones. So, why insist?

Look at this hole in the centre of the circumference

When we move from "A" to "I" and try to putt from each one of those points, if the green is not flat and level, we must consider, for every putt, different putting lines with different amounts of break.

What I'd suggest to make that drill useful:

1. Alert the player to the fact that reading the putt is a must if someone really wants to succeed.

2. Teach how to find the fall line for that hole.

3. Show for every putt the angle between the fall line and the ball hole line.

4. If the pro has the knowledge to use that information, he should take advantage of it and teach how it's done. Every time there's a missed attempt reassess the evaluation and try again. Repeat till the player feels comfortable with that putt.

5. If the pro doesn't have that specific knowledge he should try to discover the relationship between that angle and the amount of break for every putt and insist till the player understands how breaking putts work.

6. Finally, I'd explain that those who know will always perform better than those who don't know. That's life!

For those who would like to dig deeper on this subject (breaking putts) I'd suggest visiting the site Golf Putting Lines.

Practice golf putting . . .

. . . because it's the golf item that provides the biggest return for unit of time invested. All golf pros do it several hours a week. Why shouldn't us try it moderately, at least? Make some research and you'll find lots of useful drills. But resist the temptation to believe that you can trust everything that comes through the Net.

Go to Amazon and . . . find a way to improve your golf putting

Putting My Way: A Lifetime's Worth of Tips from Golf's All-Time Greatest
Putting My Way: A Lifetime's Worth of Tips from Golf's All-Time Greatest

If this man can't teach us anything about golf putting, who else can?


Reader's Feedback. Hi! You are welcome here. Any comments, suggestions, doubts, criticism, etc, will be appreciated.

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