This putting guide will mostly be dealing with the more intangible aspects of putting that no one wants to talk about and as such will be more helpful to intermediate-advanced players. I completely endorse and recommend you read Nivlac’s putting guide before reading this (especially the newer members).Certain facets of putting are near impossible to teach or put in words since it is a mixture of art and science (didn’t stop me from trying). Even though I have tried my best to make this as simple as possible, I ask you to please appreciate the complexity of putting. Too often players look for a simple mathematical formula which will make all putts for them, this will never happen; Practice is irreplaceable.
First I'll talk about how I 'look' at a putt. There is no wrong or right way to do this or in whatever sequence; it's what makes sense to you and what works for you, so don't take this section as a universal truth.
Then i take the aimer to my first instinct/guess, and imagine hitting the putt at the speed i've decided to hit the putt at and how that putt line is going to react to the grids. If I think I’m not aiming enough, I'll move it further out and do the same; repeat till a line feels like it’s good. I'm sure you get the basic idea :)
Getting ready to execute
In the end i try to imagine the grids moving the ball more than i think, and then less than i think. If it seems more likely that my miss is going to be on the low side, I'll just miss the ding by 1-2 pixels on the high side. I give credit to BolloxinBruges who explained this last concept to me in my newbie days as 'playing the percentages'.
How? If I've aimed enough and I miss the ding on the high side by 1-2 pixel, the slight loss in speed (due to missing the ding) combined with the more break i've played (due to missing the ding) will highly likely even out. If I haven't aimed quite enough then missing the ding on high side will take care of it with only a slight loss in speed (Remember, the hole is 4.25 inches wide, especially when you play putts at dead speed like I usually do).
1.Every line has a speed: Be consistent with how hard you hit your putts; Be it the suncity28 way who likes to ram 'em in or the bollox way; finesse last roll plop (General tendency, not ALWAYS; every putt and situation is different). This is the only way you'll be able to get a 'feel' for how much a given grid will break the ball with consistent results. Whether you line it up and ding, only miss the meter, or both (my usual preferred choice). Hitting it at different speeds each time will make it harder to eye/read breaks.
2. Different green speeds: I hear a lot of people saying they have trouble adjusting to different green speeds. It can be off-putting, but tying it in with everything I’ve said above, look at it this way: adjust your imagination of the interaction between the speed you’re considering to hit and the line you’re considering to take with that of the moving dots on the grid. That’s all a different green speed does; force you to hit harder/softer. Naturally, hitting a shot with less speed will give the slope of the green more time to move the ball in addition to a relatively greater retarding force acting on the ball, vice versa.
3. Pick your spots: If you choose to hit putts at dead speed (ball drops in the hole on last couple rolls) like I used to do all the time, beware, you're actually lowering your chances of making some putts because you're having to aim more; hence more chance for error. Good decision making is key.
4. The Chipping Grid: The most misunderstood tool: The chipping grid is now widely known as the tiebreaker in reading a putt that shows opposing breaks from both angles. This is true, but most people have absolutely no clue how to use this tool to its potential (and for that reason i just spent a lot of time making the following). Also, it is not just to determine which read is correct, but can tell one much more about the putt if used correctly as following:
Kia #3 left of pin 7 feet, yes the big breaker l-r. JUST long off the pin though (left of the pin)
Click here for a larger view (click image to magnify). Please read every note for the respective picture and ‘see’ what I mean on the magnified image.
#3 The incorrect way of using the chipping grid: The point of using the chipping grid is that you can move it around and center the area the putt will go thru in the center of 1 column. In cases with a camera angle squarely behind the ball and the hole, only centering the putting line on one column once will work, but in most of those cases, the default grid will majority of the times be placed in a way that the putting line will go through only 1 column. This is also the reason many players tend to rely heavily on the reverse camera, although they don’t realize ‘why’ they do it; it’s usually directly behind the hole pointing towards the ball.
So just taking out the chipper like in this snapshot will not help at all.
#4-#5 Make the putting line the center of your grid-column using the straighter cam angle: The reverse cam angle is slightly more in line with the ball, hence easier to take an accurate reading from. In #4, Only look at the first 2-3 feet of the putt since it is the area centered on the column. In #5 only look at the last 3-4 feet of the putt since this is the area centered on the column.
Note: #6-#7 also drives the point home that it doesn't matter which column you use, as long as you center it on the general putting line. If an attempt to use the chipping grid keeping the avatar pointed towards the hole was made, the avatar itself and the chipping arc would be in the way; do not be afraid to use any column, it's all about getting a clear look :)
You can also use this tool on only a portion of any long breaking putt that you have doubts about. Also helps to clearly identify transitions in double-breakers.
5a. Why mathematical formulae are only a guideline:
Oakmont #10 left and long 11 feet.
Click here for a larger view (click image to magnify)
#1-#2 Seemingly innocent putt, it actually is not. This putt shows 11 feet 1 inch uphill. There are many times when I hear people complain about putts coming up 0.2 -0.6 short for no apparent reason when they ‘hit it for perfect distance’. Such putts are usually attributed to ‘WGT’ or ‘deviation’ or ‘VEM’ and cause frustration.
#3 This picture explains why the above happens. A lot of virtual golfers will look at this putt and use the following thought process: ‘11 feet 1 inch up, that’s 12 feet … 12 feet X 1.3 OR 70% OR 75% = 9.2 feet OR 8.4 feet OR 9 feet’ (whichever mathematical equation you use to gauge distance on your putts). All the above will come up short.
Why? Taking the aimer hardly past the hole we see that it now says 11 feet 2 inches up as opposed to 1 inch up at the hole. Since WGT only shows full inch changes in elevation, a fraction of an inch will not be indicated. Also the wind is straight into your putt; yes, the wind does affect putts, even if fractionally so in this case (short putt, not a very strong wind). Every time you leave a putt begging short, look up at the wind, you’ll ‘facepalm’ quite a few times.
Going deeper into the rabbit hole, this putt is flat the first 7.7 feet, 1 inch up at 7.8 feet, 2 inches up at just past the hole, 3 inches up at 13.8 feet, 4 inches up at 16 feet, 5 inches up at 18feet. This clearly indicates that there is a steep change in elevation at the end of this putt hence also creating the visual effect ‘the ball pulled the brakes when it saw the hole’.
Nivlac explains this eloquently in his putting guide through the colors of the grid. Notice how the putting grid is turning from red (behind the ball) to black and then blue – bright blue, indicating a steeper change in elevation than a ‘1 inch uphill’ putt would usually show.
#4 To make my point, I hit this putt for a little more than 9 feet, even with a better aim, it would be 0.2-0.6 feet short. This putt needed to be hit at least 10 feet for it to barely get there. This is another reason I recommend point 3. Para 3. The same concept will be magnified with longer putts and/or stronger winds.
Hope this helps.