Perhaps the biggest key to scoring well in golf is the ability to putt consistently. The most important putts a golfer must make are the 5- to 8-footers that will test a golfer's touch and nerve. Right after that are the 18- to 22-footers that give golfers the opportunities to make birdies and pars. Golfers have to be able to read the greens, understand where the breaks are and how the breaks will affect their putts, and then execute the shot.
Look at your ball on the green as you walk up the fairway. Take a look at whether you will be facing an uphill or downhill putt. You will be studying the putt from up close shortly, but you can get a "big picture" look as you are walking toward your ball.
Study the putt from about 8 to 10 feet behind your shot. Get down in a crouch and look at the putt you will be facing. You are studying the path your putt will take and looking for creases, crevices and breaks--anything that will impact your putt as it rolls to the hole.
Walk the length of your putt to the hole and back. You are still in the studying mode. You want to see anything that will impact your putt and make sure that you understand what you will have to overcome before striking the ball.
Go to school on your playing partner's putts. He may be in the same area of the green as you are and you will see exactly how the ball rolls. This should give you even more insight as to what it will take to make your putt.
Walk up to your ball, take one practice swing and hit your putt. You have studied your putt sufficiently and you understand every bit of the green's surface. You don't want to study any longer and two or three practice swings at this point will not help you. The longer you wait while you stand over your ball, the more tension you will feel in your hands and arms as you get ready to putt.
Tips & Warnings
Practice your putting prior to every round. You should take 10 to 15 practice putts before you tee off at the first hole.