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Tip: All Putts Are Straight

Left-to-Right Drill

For right-handers, the hardest putts to read and execute correctly are left-to-right breakers. Our natural instincts and the slope of the green can cause us to keep the clubface open through the ball, swinging it out more toward the hole—instead of completely finishing the stroke, and starting the ball down the target line. The gate drill is excellent for overcoming this tendency. Place a tee in the ground so that a putt hit just to the left of it (on the high side) will break properly to the hole. With the path established, work on aligning yourself to hit a straight putt at a target point beyond the tee. Stroke the putt down that line, not at the tee or at the hole. To heighten the challenge, place a second tee three or four inches left of the first and hit through the gate. The gate drill can also help with putts that break in the other direction.

Nick Faldo on the Air

Nick Faldo’s wit, insights about golf and candid assessments of fellow Tour professionals can be heard on the following ABC golf telecasts:

November 2-5, Tour Championship (East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, GA)
November 25–26, Merrill Lynch Skins Game (Trilogy Golf Club in La Quinta, CA)

Visually Tracking the Ball

Visually tracking the path of a projected putt in reverse, from the hole back to where the ball rests, is a great way to get a feel for the final few feet of a breaking putt. Noting where on the rim of the cup the ball pops out in reverse gives you a precise reference point to think about when you are standing over the ball. It also creates a positive image of the putt because the ball starts where you want it to end up: in the cup. When tracking the putt in the other direction, indecision about how the putt behaves near the hole—or visions of it missing—can cloud the mind. Another trick: Visualize the ball moving across the green at the speed it will travel when you actually putt it.

How Putts Break

A breaking putt curves the most in the last few feet or inches before it stops (or goes into the hole). Poor putters, even though they know a putt will curve before that, tend to align themselves—vaguely—to some spot in that last bit of a putt’s projected path (line A). Many better putters align themselves to a spot on the green, halfway or more to the hole, that they visualize the ball will need to roll over (line B); sometimes that spot is at or near the apex of the putt’s projected trajectory. But since most putts will break at least a little before reaching that spot, even this technique requires a compensating stroke if the player is to have a chance of sinking the putt. The best putters determine the spot toward which the putt actually needs to start rolling, align themselves to that point (line C) and hit a straight putt.

The Faldo Golf Institutes

Chip Koehlke, U.S. Director of Instructional Programs. The curriculum at Faldo Golf Institutes is built around fundamentals. Each site offers schools, private lessons and club-fitting sessions.

Marriott’s Grande Vista; Orlando, FL

Marriott’s Shadow Ridge; Palm Desert, CA

Seaview Marriott Resort; Galloway, NJ

Marco Island Marriott Resort; Marco Island, FL

Brocket Hall Golf Club; Hertfordshire, England

For the U.S. institutes, call 888-463-2536 or visit gofaldo.com. For Brocket Hall, call 011-44/1707-368-786 or visit brocket-hall.co.uk.


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