Figuring out the path your putt will travel is a difficult concept for inexperienced or high-handicap golfers to understand. Many new players look at the green as a respite after negotiating 400 or 500 yards to get to the green. However, while they think it may be easy to putt the ball in the hole, they quickly grow greatly concerned when they watch the ball break away from the hole and roll away from it. Learning how to putt successfully includes visualizing the path your ball will take on its way to the hole.
Study your ball on the green as you walk up the fairway. You will see exactly where your ball is in relation to the flagstick, and you will get a "big-picture" look at the putting surface. Keep this in the back of your mind as you study your putt from closer quarters.
Get behind your ball by about 8 to 10 feet, and get down in a crouch. You want to study the path your ball will follow to get to the hole. Looking at it from this level should allow you to see the creases and ridges on the green that will make the ball break right, left or keep it straight.
Walk the path your ball will follow after you strike it. Once again, the idea is to see any subtle changes in the terrain so you can see where the breaks are. You can't visualize successfully unless you know all the facts. When putting, that means knowing all the breaks on the green and how they will impact your ball.
Try to "see" the path your ball will travel on the way to the hole. If you have a sidehill putt that includes a downhill turn during the final 5 feet to the hole, you must play the ball above the hole because gravity will take over. Once you visualize this, walk up to your ball, take one practice swing and hit your ball. Do not stand over your shot and think about it for more than 30 seconds. That will only lead to anxiety and keep you from hitting the putt you want.
Practice your putting before you begin your round of golf. You should hit 10 to 15 practice putts on the putting green before you tee off so you are used to visualizing your shot and stroking your putt.
Tips & Warnings
Watch your playing partners hit their putts. You can "go to school" by seeing how ridges and creases impact the ball they have just putted.