Learning to putt is one of the hardest parts of the game of golf to master. Anybody can stand over a putt and send it toward the hole, but to do so with knowledge and touch takes experience and confidence. One of the keys to putting well is learning how to read greens and then using that knowledge as you prepare to strike the ball.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Assess your putt as you walk toward the green. Do you have an uphill putt or a downhill putt? Is it relatively straight or are there ridges? This can be ascertained with a quick look at the green.
Stand on the green and look at the issues you will face. If you have an uphill putt, you will probably have a relatively straight shot at the hole. However, in a downhill or sidehill situation, you will have to play the break to get the ball to or near the hole.
Go to school off your playing partner's putt. If he is putting from the same area of the green that you are and you notice that his putt goes above the hole before coming down, then you should try to follow a similar line. You want to learn about the putt you will face any way you can.
Look for any bumps or ridges as you get ready to hit your downhill putt. You will not have to strike your putt too hard to get it to the hole, but you will have to play the break. A ridge on the right side of the hole means you will have to play it to the right because the putt will break back to the left.
Don't leave any par putts short. To a good amateur player, a par is like gold. Don't miss those opportunities by babying those putts. Read the green and get the ball to the hole. If you have an uphill putt, you can hit it straight and on the firm side. On a downhill or sidehill putt, you have to let gravity do its job and also play the breaks.
Tips & Warnings
Walk up to your ball, take one practice swing and then putt it. A golfer can get anxious by standing over his putt and contemplating everything that can go wrong. You are better off just addressing the ball and hitting it.