Nepali Times Asian Paints
Tee Break
A game within a game


Putting is a game within a game. It takes two shots to hit the ball 300 yards and then three putts for the remaining 30 feet!
Once on the putting green, the goal is to get that ball into the hole in two putts or less. Watching most amateurs, we see that it's usually that first putt that gets them into trouble. They leave the ball very short of the hole, or end up way off line.

All golfers have their own style and method of putting. As long as the ball finds the cup, there's no problem. The key is to be able to 'read the breaks', and develop feel and consistency. One of the great things about watching the better putters amongst professionals is how they judge distance and how they roll the ball just far enough to reach the hole. They have a genuine feel, that has been refined by years of practice.

Here's a golden rule for you to remember and practice: how far the ball will roll is controlled by the speed at which the putter is moving when it hits the ball, and this must be determined by the length of your stroke.

When next on the practice putting green, try a number of putts from, first 10, then 20, and then 30 ft. See how much backswing and acceleration is needed for each distance. Then work between those lengths randomly. While varying the length of the putt, concentrate on the length of the stroke and on striking the ball out of the middle of the putter face.

You get only one chance on the golf course, so try to get it right the first time in practice also. Putting is more of feel than technique. The interesting part of this drill is to transform you from being "technique conscious" to "feel conscious."

'As the length of the putt increases, so must the length of the stroke. Always visualise the ball running two feet past the hole, and remember, as the ball dies it will take more brake.'

To have the confidence to stroke your long putts properly, you must not be scared of leaving yourself three to six footers coming back. A lack of confidence on long putts usually results in a tentative stroke, hoping to put the ball 'somewhere close' to the hole. More often than not, a three putt is the result.

You can't be closer to the hole than inside it though. Practice and improve the short putts and this will lead automatically to a confident stroke on longer putts. The result? You will start sinking a lot more longer putts.

I'll save the breaking putts over side hill lies for another time. For now, get onto the practice green and get your game back on par.

Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)