Putting: Reading The Break
Everyone has their favorite club in their golf bag and during a round of golf it is possible to leave the ball in a position where you can use that club. However, there is no getting away from using the putter, whether you like it or not.
The Putter is the one club you will need to use on every hole you play during a round of golf. You may enjoy the occasional chip in from off the green or remarkable hole in one but they are rare.
You must be comfortable using the putter and one of the most difficult putts to make is when the ball is breaking on its way to the hole.
When you are faced with a big breaking putt, it is easy to become overawed and panic about the shot. This leads to a rushed putt and one which will not finish close to the hole. Before you know it, you have a tough second putt and are making a dreaded three putt.
Fortunately, there are things you can do, which will help you when reading a breaking putt.
Firstly, you can start by looking at your putt from multiple angles around the green. Look at both your ball and the hole from a side view, is one above the other? If your ball is above the hole, you face a downhill putt, if it is below the hole, the putt will be uphill.
Look at where other balls are on the green in relation to the hole. By doing this, you will notice one ball may be higher than the hole and another may be lower. Immediately this should give you some idea as what to expect from the green in relation to your putt.
You can also place the flag down on the green and use this to judge if it is sloping.
Crouch down behind your ball, with the hole ahead of it and imagine pouring a bucket of water towards the hole. Which way would the water flow from the bucket? This is how the ball is likely to break when you play the shot and will give you a good idea of how the green is sloping.
Another trick when reading a green is to watch the putts of your playing partners. Do not switch off and ignore their putts if they are putting first. Watching them can give you the greatest insight of all when trying to read a break. Take even greater note of how their putt breaks if they are on a similar line as you but playing from further away.
Finally, think about the speed of your putt. The line you take is important but no more so than the speed you strike the ball.
The firmer you hit the putt, the less influence the break of the green will have on the ball. If you have confidence in your putting stroke and the green is not playing fast, you can play your putt with enough pace to eliminate much of the break. With a slow green, there is no worry it will travel a long way beyond the hole should you miss.