This is the fifth of six excerpts from "The Lost Art of Putting."
We’ve all seen or played with the guy who looks at every putt from every angle, right? What is he looking for? Basically, clues that will lead him to make a decision on how hard to hit his putt and what line to hit it on. Line and pace.
We don’t recommend that you study every putt from every conceivable angle — a round of golf takes long enough.
However, we do believe you should look at all of your putts from the low side.
Once you figure out where the low side is, use your eyes and feet to help. Look at the line from around halfway down the length of the putt and three or four paces back from the line.
For example, when faced with a 20-foot putt, walk what you think is 10 feet and then take a few steps back.
Crouching down so that your eyes are closer to the ground will help you see the contours a little more clearly. Even standing up you will see a lot more than you will ever see from only looking down the line from behind the ball.
You will effectively be looking at what you face in 3D HD widescreen. You will see the full picture if you stand far enough back to see both your ball and the hole in your peripheral vision. You will see the full length of the putt.
If you only look at your putt “down the line,” it foreshortens the perceived distance. The chances are your eyes won’t actually make contact with the ground until 18 to 24 inches beyond the ball.
This confuses your brain and it starts to compute the required distance, minus that 18 to 24 inches. When you think about it logically, it makes perfect sense that the resultant putt will probably come up short.
You should also understand and be aware of the fact that a putt with 2 feet of break will travel further than a straight putt of what would at first glance to be the same length. Not something many golfers tend to factor in when determining the pace of any given putt and how hard to hit it. This makes a big difference and should not be overlooked as it will be a major factor in determining pace.
Not only will you start to see the length of the putt in its entirety, you will notice if it is uphill or downhill, something that will have an effect on the speed of your putt and the pace at which you will need to hit it. You will see subtle undulations and changes in elevation, all of which will help with your decision making when it comes to where you hit your putt and how hard you hit it to give your ball the best possible chance of going in the hole.
Trust us when we say that this will not add time to your round of golf, but actually enable you to play faster.
You can do your detective work while your playing partners are preparing to putt, so that you are truly ready when it is your turn.
Because you will now be better equipped to roll your ball on the correct line at the appropriate pace, you will hole more putts, hit your approach putts closer, greatly reduce the number of three putts you have and ultimately spend less time on the greens.
“What about looking at the putt from behind the hole looking back towards my ball? I’ve seen the pros doing that on TV.”
Looking at your putt from this angle can help you determine an entry point. However, please understand that your eyes will see the additional distance beyond the hole and this will lead to your brain being fooled into thinking you have a greater distance to cover than you have in reality.
It can also look a little different from this angle which can lead to you second-guessing all the information you have gathered from down the line and the low side. Second guessing leads to uncertainty and indecision, which in turn leads to a lack of commitment.
Gary Nicol, of Scotland, is a certified TrackMan Master and Mind Factor coach and is based at Archerfield Links on Scotland’s Golf Coast. Nicol has worked with a number of European Tour players.
Karl Morris, the founder of The Mind Factor Institute, has been involved in performance coaching for over 30 years and has worked with multiple major championship winners. www.themindfactor.com