Here I have a putt about 25-30 feet long and before I decide exactly where I want to play it I have to look this putt over. It is going to break from left to right, and I would look at it first from behind the ball, and then if I was still not sure I might walk about halfway to the hole on the low side so that I can get a good picture.
How to Read the Green for Long Putts
From here I can see that it is a fairly level putt, but it is going to be a little quick breaking to the right because of all of that slope on the break. So now as I go back I am more concerned now with how hard I want to hit this putt because if I do not get the speed exactly right I can not possibly pick the break. There are probably six different directions that I can hit this putt and still make it depending on the speed.
Aiming for the Cup
Now on this particular putt I would love to have my ball within a foot of the cup when I finish so that I have an easy tap in should I not make it. The odds of making a putt like this one are about one in 20 at best. I step behind the ball and then get a feel for how much speed I need on the putt. With that speed I see this ball needing to be played about 20 inches above the cup.
Putting: Reading the Speed of the Green
So now I step up to the ball and I am into getting my line right. Once that is done I switch my thought process back to speed and hit the putt. I did not hit it quite hard enough but I did satisfy my goal of leaving myself a one foot putt for a nice easy par. I would like to have hit it harder but it was a pretty good plan and a very nice putt.
Read the speed first and then plan on how much break you need to play. You hear announcers on television all the time talking about this putt being a speed putt, but in reality all putts are speed putts and a lot of your practice time should be working just on speed. In a moment I will show you a drill to get your speed precisely correct. Remember, read the speed then choose the break.