Putting for success

Save strokes by learning to putt


(November 2009)
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Dale Crafton

I played a round of golf recently in which I had a very peculiar back nine. For nine holes, I did not “hit a green” and shot even-par for that nine holes. I chipped well and putted even better. I hit a similar number of greens on the front nine and did not putt well. I won’t tell you what my score was on the front nine.
This little story is an example of how many strokes you can “save” on a round of golf when you are putting well. There are some basic and fundamental issues with putting. All concepts in putting revolve around two principles, distance and direction.

Putting Line

Photos provided

(Above) Distance with putting is
determined by length of back swing.
(Below) All putts are straight
putts (find the apex).

Putting Line

Let’s talk about distance first. Distance is determined by length of backstroke. Lay down four golf balls and putt toward any target on the green. Putt one ball by taking the putter back four inches and then four inches forward, toward the target.
As always, take the putter toward the target at least as far as you take it back. Don’t DECELERATE. Then in four-inch increments, putt the last three golf balls, one from eight inches, one from 12 inches and one from 16 inches. Distance is determined by how far back and how far through you take the putter.
The other factor with effective putting is direction. There is no “magic” formula for determining direction. However, a few tips might be helpful.
Consider this: Every putt is a “straight” putt. The key ingredient is to determine where it will break (where is the apex) and aim the putt “straight” toward that point.
The second tip for putting is to survey the entire green when determining break. Almost all greens slope more in the back than in the front. Greens are designed that way to accommodate rain “run off.” If you look at the entire green, you can almost always see a pattern of slope from back to front and from side to side.
To summarize, when you arrive at the green, get down behind the ball and determine the break. Line the ball up “straight” toward the apex of the break. Stand beside the ball and take a practice stroke to get a feel for distance. Line the mark on your putter up with the arrow on your golf ball and take the putter back and through the same distance.
More strokes are taken with the putter than with any other club in the bag. You can practice putting anywhere. Spend some time on this part of your game for lower scores.

• Dale Crafton is the owner and instructor at Cozy Acres Golf Complex, 4040 Old State Rd. 62, Madison, Ind. Call him at (812) 273-3137.


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