On putts that break, forget the hole

IF YOUR breaking putts tend to miss on the low side, I’d bet your problem is how you look at the putt from over the ball. Most golfers spend too much time staring at the hole, and then putt towards it – after all, that’s where you want to end up.

But you have to discipline yourself to focus on the route to the hole, not the hole itself.

Try this routine: read the green from behind the ball, and imagine the first six inches of the putt as a trough aimed where you want to start the ball. When you step in, you can trace your eyes along the line, but make your last look at that trough. If your last look is at the hole, you probably won’t get the ball started with enough room to break.

Last tip: on breaking putts, imagine the centre of the hole shifted towards the high side. If 6 o’clock is dead centre on a straight putt, the centre on a left-to-right breaker might be 8 o’clock. When you do look at the hole, picture the new centre. You’ll hit more putts on line. – with Peter Morrice

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When Dustin Johnson three-putted the last green and failed to force a playoff at the 2015 US Open, people asked me if he’d get over it.

I never had a doubt, because DJ has what most great athletes have: a short memory. Think of defensive backs in the NFL. They get burned all the time but have to come back ready for the next play. Dustin has that, and he proved it when he told the world after that round he did everything right, played great, just missed the putt.

And I can tell you, he was already up for the next one. The next year, DJ went to Oakmont and won the US Open, but he’d put the three-putt behind him 12 months earlier.”


Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.