by Jamie Donaldson, AimPoint Level 3 Instructor
When it comes to holing putts the formula is simple – the right read, the right speed and the ball needs to be started on the correct line…
Get these factors correct and the ball will go in…
However it’s possible to have an incorrect read, start the ball on yet another line, and still hole some putts. But if you have an incorrect read and start the ball on that line, then the only way you can attempt to hole the putt without manipulating path is to vary the speed accordingly. Not something we could even practice, changing the speed of the ball subconsciously!
You know the feeling when suddenly you hit one 5ft past the hole, or even worse the same distance short? When you under-read the break you have to hit the ball harder than ideal and if you over read the break then you will find yourself trying to find more turn by hitting it softer than you need to. In other words, you have to increase or decrease the time of the putt to make up for a poor read.
If the break you choose is too much then you’ll have to hit the ball too softly trying to give it extra time to break to the hole. This video shows the effect:
So speed changes intrinsically depending on the choices we make with the read – and it’s not a conscious decision either, it happens during the stroke because the correct read didn’t match what we guessed.
The other problem with altering speed is that the target size of the hole decreases as the speed that the ball enters the hole increases. Too fast and the hole becomes very small. This video shows the all too common short lip-out that happends because the ball is rolling too fast and doesn’t hit the center of the hole:
The ball roll is affected also. If the ball is rolling too slowly, it can get knocked off line more easily. This video shows how the ball will begin to wobble the last 6 inches at it slows down, particularly on a downhill putt:
An ideal distance past the hole is 9” according to AimPoint and scientific research.
So if you’re struggling with speed control, then the first thing you need to check is your read, once you have a correct read you can practice your speed control. I.e having the correct read every time will mean you do not have to rely on alterations during the putting action and you can practice controlling your speed.