ESTIMATING THE AMOUNT OF BREAK ON YOUR PUTTS
The use of this form improves your accuracy in selecting the amount of break
on your putts and will result in a higher percentage of putts sunk from a given
Players of all experience levels, including the top stars, tend to hit most
of their missed putts below the curve to the cup. Once it is rolling below the
curve to the cup, gravity causes the ball to roll still further away from the
cup. Thus, that putt cannot roll in the cup.
Since they see every putt, why do golfers not correct this problem? The cause
is due to a feedback problem. Golfers do not, or cannot, store data in their
mind on a cumulative basis over many similar putts. Results occur in a jumbled
order. One putt goes in the cup, the next misses on the low side, and the next
misses on the high side. Then there are all the other shots to hit during a
round. In addition, golfers do not record, accumulate and summarize data on
paper as to whether they miss on the high side or the low side of each putt.
Thus, they are unaware of their error patterns, though many of have heard that
other golfers suffer from this tendency of having a high percentage of putts
miss on the low side of the curve to the cup. They overestimate their performance,
sometimes wildly, and are stunned when you present accurate data on the percentage
of their putts that miss on the low side of the cup.
They putt on the low side because they do not estimate enough break. It also
occurs because even if they see the correct amount of break, they tend to stroke
more toward the cup than to a spot offering enough room to break. Thus, they
need feedback on these two performances and get it in this experiment.
This feedback form presented here causes them to collect data on two key characteristics
of putting performance. One, was their estimate of the direction and amount
of curve in the putt accurate? Two, did they stroke the ball on the correct
path they predicted?
Golfers who use this soon begin to estimate the break more accurately. When
they do this, the percentage of putts they sink by distance tends to increase
and it continues at higher levels long term, though they will vary from day
to day, but less so. The golfer should use these procedures forever as part
of each practice putting session.
In this drill, the golfer imagines a straight line the ball is to start on
and continues it to a point 17 inches past the cup. To mark this aiming line,
the golfer places a repair tool into the green. If the golfer chooses correctly
the line and speed of the putt and then putts directly on it, gravity will cause
the ball to roll into the cup, or close to it. To start the putts from the same
location, the golfer places a coin four inches from the ball at right angles
to the starting point.
Does the golfer start the putt on the desired line? To find out, the golfer
places two tees one foot from the ball and four inches apart in the green to
act as gates. If the ball hits one of these tees or rolls on the outside edge
of one of them, the golfer discards that putt from the study of the amount of
break. In addition, the golfer discards any putt stopping short of the cup or
more than three feet past the cup.
If the qualifying putts consistently roll either above or below the curve to
the cup, the golfer readjusts the estimate of break and moves that marker. The
golfer measures the distance and direction of the change and calculates the
change in terms of percentages (e.g. 125% more break needed). When faced with
estimating the amount of break on a similar putt in the future on the course,
the golfer recalls the percentage adjustment and changes the amount of estimated
break. This results in a higher percentage of putts sunk from that distance.