Scoring well in the game of golf comes down to putting. While the stroke appears to be easier than any of the others that golfers face during an 18-hole round, its subtleties and degrees of difficulty make the learning process a lifelong one. While short- and medium-range putts are challenging in their own right, long putts are particularly difficult. Not only do you have to deal with the distance, you also have to contend with breaks, crevices and the speed of the shot.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Read the green carefully before you stroke your putt. There aren't many opportunities to hit a level putt that does not have any break whatsoever. You need to get behind your putt and read it. Look for the breaks and make your assessment.
Walk the length of your putt. You may have 29 feet between your ball and the green, and it is wise to understand the path your ball will travel. Walk the path and look for breaks and bumps on the green; learn the terrain your ball will travel.
Draw a 3-foot circle around the hole. Not in reality, but in your mind's eye. While Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and other top golfers will make 25-footers (and longer) from time to time, it is an extremely difficult putt to make with any kind of consistency. Instead of going for the hole, tell yourself you will have hit a successful putt if you can get it within three feet.
Walk up to your ball, take one practice swing and hit it. Do not take three or four practice swings and stand over your putt for 45 seconds or more. That will only lead to more tension and anxiety. Make your assessment of the putt, walk up to it and hit it.
Take a firm stroke when you are 25 feet or more away from the hole. Even if it is a downhill putt, you still have to hit it hard enough to get there. Don't baby your shot.
Tips & Warnings
Hold your putter about 6 inches from the top. Holding it a bit lower will help you get a better feel for your putt.