You’ve got 3 feet for par again. Hands snappy, knees shaky, the greens have been fierce at 12 on the stimp and this putt looks like it breaks a foot right. You step up to it, pick your line, make a limp-wristed attempt and it lips out… again! Sound familiar?
Fast greens are scary. One and two footers look like 10 footers when you’re low on confidence. You start seeing 6 inches of break on a 1 foot putt! Lag putts turn into guaranteed three putts in your head as you walk up to the green. For any golf enthusiast the US Master’s week, from April 11th to 14th, marks a special time of year.
Not only is it the season’s first major but the weather in the USA has finally turned for the better, flowers blooming, and birds chirping, golfers are hitting the practice range trying to groove their swings for the upcoming season. Ever wanted to know what it is like to putt on a U.S. Open green on Sunday? Next time you are in the kitchen, jump up on your granite countertops and take a couple putts.
Or putt in your bathtub or on your concrete driveway (assuming it is downhill). OK, you get it, the greens at a U.S. Open are fast; really fast! One of the primary struggles for players at the start of any season is putting, especially when you go from putting on greens like carpet to playing on manicured greens. In Thailand we’ve also just started the summer, dry hot weather which means faster greens.
To consider fast greens, get to the golf course at least 10 minutes earlier than you planned. Find a spot on the green that is flat and hit a couple putts with the same tempo and swing length that you would at your home course to roll a 12-footer. Since the greens are significantly faster your ball will roll out much farther. To adjust the distance the ball is traveling, simply lighten your grip pressure and slow your tempo down until you have the ball rolling the desired 12 feet. Pay extra attention to the tempo required to make that putt roll that distance because you will need to recall that tempo once you get on the golf course. To develop more confidence and consistency on fast greens, be sure to follow these six tips:
1. THINK ABOUT THE PUTT BEFORE YOU HIT YOUR APPROACH SHOT
On fast greens it is imperative to think ahead and position yourself for success. Positioning your approach shot on the green correctly will minimise the risk of a three putt and will ultimately lead to more made putts. If a green is severely sloped back to front you don’t want to be facing a five foot putt downhill. This putt can easily run twenty feet past the hole resulting in a three or four putt. Instead, leave yourself below the hole and in a good position to make an aggressive stroke.
2. PLAY MORE BREAK
As greens become quicker even the smallest degree of slope will affect the line of your putt. To compensate for this, make sure to play more break and focus on missing your putts on the high side of the hole giving yourself a chance to make the putt. Always keep in mind that putts missed on the low side of the hole never have the opportunity to drop in.
3. SLOW DOWN YOUR STROKE
First, grip down on the handle so that your bottom thumb is nearly touching the steel portion of the shaft. This gives you more control over the putter head and helps slow it down, producing a much softer roll. Avoid any sudden acceleration to your stroke—you want the putter to move back and through at a gentle, even pace.
4. DEADEN IMPACT
Set up to the putt with the ball opposite the heel of the putter, not the toe. The heel area helps deaden impact and create the softest roll possible. You’ll also have more control over the putter face and the ball’s starting direction, since the heel is where the shaft connects to the hosel and is sturdier than the toe. Whatever you do, stay away from the toe of the putter when rolling the ball downhill. The heel area is generally closer to the putter shaft, which adds stability to your stroke.
5. MAINTAIN LIGHT GRIP PRESSURE
To help increase your touch and feel with the putter, don’t grip the handle so tight that you’re “white knuckling” it. A light grip will help increase your feel and pace when you’re trying to keep putts on line.
6. KEEP YOUR POSTURE DURING THE PUTT
The easiest way to block a putt (causing a push to the right) is to come up and out of your posture during the putting stroke.
To maintain your posture, make sure to keep the back of your neck still. This sensation will ensure your head stays down throughout the entire putting stroke.
7. ON SHORT PUTTS, TAKE LESS BREAK AND HIT IT FIRMER
On short putts keep your head down, trust the line and try to slam the ball into the back edge of the hole. You don’t want to baby short putts into the hole on fast greens.