Symptom: Breaking putts give you fits, because playing the right amount of break is elusive for you.

You often mutter things like, “I thought it would break more” or “where did all that break come from” or “maybe I pushed it” or “get there” or “slow down” or perhaps less printable things…

Overview: On the putting green, pick a cup on a slight hill, and surround it with several balls in a circle. Start just a foot or two away from the cup and gradually work to wider and wider circles. Read and sink each putt as you circle the cup.

Why it works: Even though we know logically that downhill putts are faster and have more break, and uphill putts are slower and have less break, it is something you must experience firsthand to really internalize.  This drill is a great way to prove it to yourself so you can execute better on the course.

Breaking Putts Speed and Direction

Phil Mickelson surround the cup putting drill breaking putts

Phil Mickelson using the surround the cup putting drill.

By keeping the length of the putt constant but varying the amount of break you need to play, you will get a better feel for how to read and execute short breaking putts. Gradually your short putting and your confidence will improve.  You will find that your performance on this drill improves when your misses on are on the high side of the hole, and end up about 18 inches past the hole.

Another benefit of this drill is that you will improve your ability to read the putts of your playing partners, and apply this learning to your putt!  So, for example, if your buddy has a similar length putt from the other side of the hole, you will know how your putt is likely to roll based on his putt, because you’ve already hit both putts in the Surround the Cup Putting Drill on the practice green!

Phil Mickelson shows us how it’s done and what he is thinking about during the drill (thanks Phil):

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