Golf Putting Tip: Walk to the Cup and Back For Better Reads on Long Putts

Symptom: Poor distance control on long putts.  The all too frequent "You're still away" after hitting your lag putt, and the sad square or double-square on your scorecard due to yet another three-putt.

Overview: Always walk all the way to the cup (or past the cup) and back to your ball on your approximate line before putting.

Why it works: Most Occasional Golfers focus on the line of their putt and not the distance or speed of their putt. As a result, most of us will miss long putts (greater than about 20 feet) either short or long far more often than right or left.  By walking to the cup and back, you get a tangible feel for how far away the hole is, whether the putt is uphill or downhill, how much break there is, and so forth. Your sense of balance is a powerful tool to help you read the green.  Notice which way you need to lean to stay upright, and you will learn more about the slope and pitch of the green.  You can use this information to judge your putt a bit better.

Have a look at Tiger's read of this birdie putt to win Bay Hill in 2008.  He reads the line from behind the cup (0:25) and then walks back to his ball on his approximate line (0:46).  This is no accident--he does this to get the feel of both the break and the slope of the putt, in addition to what can be seen with the eyes.  He then aligns the line on his ball with his target line (0:55) and then executes an amazing left-to-right breaker to win -- have a look:


In short, you are more likely to make a stroke of the proper strength once you've been to the cup and back, and avoid the dreaded three-putt.  You should do this on every putt, even if you "think" you know what the putt is going to do!  (Of course there is not need to take two minutes on every putt for this little ritual -- a few extra seconds is all it should take).

While you're at the cup you can also pull the flag for your buddies; they will appreciate it.  Better distance control, happier playing partners, fewer boxes on your scorecard -- you'll be on a roll! 

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May all your putts roll true -- GolfTipEditor

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