Golf tip: Key steps to become a great putter
Next week, many of the top players on PGA Tour Champions will get to see Exmoor Country Club for the first time as they prepare for the 2018 Constellation Senior Players Championship. The player who holds the trophy by the end of the week will be the one who best negotiates the severely sloped greens on our classically designed Donald Ross golf course.
Becoming a great putter begins with learning how to properly read greens. When determining which direction a putt breaks and how much it might break, it is helpful to first locate a straight putt. When you walk around a hole you will typically find two different lines that are perfectly straight putts. This is usually a straight downhill putt and a straight uphill putt. Half way between these points, on both sides of the hole, would be the two locations where a putt will break the most either left to right or right to left. It is important to understand where your ball is in relation to these straight putts in order to figure out how much break to play.
The next key is learning the speed of the greens and how that affects the amount of break. My tip for learning green speed is pacing off your putts while you play. You can do this quickly while the other players in your group are lining up their putts. Each step is roughly three feet and will help you determine your distance from the hole. From there you can start to calibrate how hard you hit a ten-foot uphill putt verse how hard you hit a thirty-foot downhill putt.
Another added benefit of pacing off your putts is the ability to feel the slope of the greens in your feet as you walk near your line. Many amateurs make the mistake of relying solely on their eyes to read a putt. It is important to realize that our eyes often play tricks on you, and using your feet to feel the slope can provide you with a helpful secondary read. Most people are able to tell if they are walking uphill or downhill, and whether or not their left foot is above or below their right foot. Make sure to use this sense to your advantage when determining your read.
Using these tactics will help you become a master at reading break and controlling your speed, which will lead to plenty of great days on the greens.
• Nick Cuca is the Assistant PGA Professional at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Ill., host site of the 2018 PGA Tour Champions Constellation Senior Players Championship July 12-15. He is the 2017 Illinois PGA Assistant Professional of the Year and played collegiate golf at Illinois Wesleyan.
• With assistance from the Illinois PGA, the Daily Herald provides golf tips each Wednesday from a PGA Professional.