by Mark Sweeney, AimPoint Founder
We’ve all heard that the most important thing in putting is Speed, and to some extend that is true. If you dont want to three-putt, speed is critical; but if you want to make birdies, aim and speed must be in balance. However, if you want to truly understand break, you’ll have to stop thinking about Speed and start thinking about Time.
Why Time? Because it’s Time, not Speed, that changes break. No matter how hard we hit the putt, the rate of break doesn’t change. Sound wrong? We all know that hitting the putt harder “takes the break out.” But the reason the putt breaks less between impact and the hole is because the roll Time is shorter, not because the velocity of the ball changes the rate of break.
This video demonstrates the point. The ball takes three seconds to break to the string no matter how hard it is hit:
So when we are trying to “Get the speed right”, we are actually trying to get the time right. That is, we are trying to match the amount of break to the correct time. Changing speed changes time (since speed equals distance over time) so Speed Control is actually Time Control. If the correct break for a 20 foot putt is 17 inches, that means 17 inches in 4.5 seconds. If you hit your line and get the ball to the hole in 4 seconds you will miss high; if it gets there in 5 seconds you will miss low.
To start understanding speed, start understanding the ideal roll times for different putts. Do you know, for example, that downhills putts take longer and are slower than uphill putts? Do you know that the ball rolls slower on faster greens? If not, it’s time to start counting…