Very few putts are straight. Most break to one side or the other. As a matter of fact, we are so used to seeing putts break that one of the hardest putts to make is a dead straight putt.
Most of us, however, have trouble determining if the putt is going to break and in what direction. How can we figure this out?
When seeking to determine the break, we tend to get “tunnel vision.” We look only at the ground between the ball and the hole and the ground looks basically flat. We can’t see the break.
This happens because our focus is too narrow. We need to take a wider, softer view. Look at the topography of the green as you approach it. The farther back you are, assuming you can see the green clearly, the easier it is to see overall trends in the green area.
Look for the “high side” of the green. Chances are all putts will break away from that area.
Next, look for ridges in the green as you get closer. The location and direction of the ridges have a great impact on the break of the putts.
One question to ask yourself as you approach the green is: “If I poured a pitcher of water on the ground between the ball and the hole, which way would the water run?” The direction of the water flow is the direction of the break.
Another influence in determining the break of a putt is the grain of the grass on the green. Generally, if the grass appears shiny as you look at it, the grain is going away from you. If it appears dull, you are looking into the grain. It is growing toward you. The ball will break in the direction of the grain.
Finally, wind will also affect the break of a putt. If it is blowing hard, expect the ball to break, to some extent, in the direction of the wind.
Most of our problems in determining the break of our putts stem from being “mentally asleep” as we approach the green. If we are vigilant on our approach to the green, looking at all the variables, by the time we get to the ball we will have a pretty good idea what our putt is going to do.
Tom Drisler is teaching at Union Hills Country Club. Individual lessons, group lessons and video lessons with take-home CDs are available. Call 602-316-0419 to schedule an appointment.