HERE IS the dilemma when you face one of those slippery downhill putts: How do I hit this thing soft enough? Some people say you should make contact off the toe of the putter, but that can cause the face to twist open. Others say grip down to shorten the club, but that creates a different setup and feel.

Do you really want to do all that on a putt that’s already freaking you out?

The most effective method for handling short, speedy putts is two-fold: First, take an extra-light grip; and second, make a slow-motion stroke. The light grip – and I mean almost-falling-out-of-your-hands light – will deaden the hit. It’s a good idea to grip and re-grip a little at address [above] to make sure you’re not tightening up.

When it comes to the stroke, the feel you want is slow back, slow through. Remember, you’re trying to hit the ball a foot or less. But don’t just tap it carelessly – the line matters, too. You have to commit to your aim.

As you step in, aim the face first, pointing it down the line you want to start the ball on. Then focus on that light grip and slow stroke. Get good at making these, and your mates will be calling you clutch.

How does that sound?

Butch HarmonButch’s Basics

A lot of golfers try to wish the ball in on short putts. They make a scared stroke followed by all sorts of body gyrations. The issue is, they look up too soon, which causes a mis-hit. Pick a specific target [left], then keep your eyes down and see the putter hit the ball. A firm stroke is your best chance.

Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.