Take the Break Out

You have a 5 foot par putt with some left to right break. It's an already uncomfortable putt, pay no mind to the fact that it's to tie the match. Taking the break out is going to help your chances, right?

You aim left edge and give it some pace. The ball begins to break. It touches the right side of the hole. In a blink, it dives into the cup, takes a peek, and darts out the left side.

A devastating lip out.

You lose the match.

What's the Problem?

The problem isn't that you missed and lost the match. Though that in and of itself might have you reaching into your pocket...

No, the problem is that the strategy you used trying to take the break out ruined your chances before you even hit the putt. We've all heard it and at first glance, it makes sense. Why would I aim or start the ball outside the cup when I can just hit dead center and firm? If you saw the last post about Capture Speed, you'll recognize pretty quickly that this common misnomer doesn't add up. Here are the cliff notes from the last post:

  • Capture speed is how fast the ball is rolling as it approaches the cup, usually described in distance past the hole

  • A good reference point is 6-12" past the cup to maximize the size of the hole

  • A faster capture speed effectively makes the cup smaller

The below picture from my article in Golf Digest gives us a great visual of what it looks like when you attempt to take the break out on short putts.

Notice how far past the cup the ball travels in the image on the left. It's 4 feet by from 4 feet! That's why this strategy produces a lot of your lip outs from this distance.

The Solution

Everyone wants to be consistent, but if that's really true, then why are we changing the approach just because the ball is closer to the hole?

This one is pretty straight forward. All of that good work you've done to improve your dispersion and better manage your size and tempo still needs to be applied on short putts. Changing the strategy as you get closer to the hole doesn't make any sense or help your chances of making the putt.

The Read Branch

How can you become better at doing this? This is where we start moving from the Speed branch of The Putting Tree to the Read branch.

We need to better understand how and why a ball breaks on the green so we can pick a reliable target that allows us to use better capture speed.

I can't sit here and tell you to play more break and expect you to trust me, but I am going to ask you keep your capture speed the same on short putts. Then, read the next post about one of the Key Concepts on the Read branch. There's always more and I'm going to keep sharing these ideas with you. You can have great speed AND be an expert green reader.

If you can't wait until the next post to start getting better, it's time to make a trip to Orlando for The Putting Experience. Just click the button below to get started.