Symptom: Poor putting on downhill putts, especially missing downhill putts on the low side of the hole because, yet again, you have underestimated the break. Or you over-read uphill putts, playing too much break.
“Wow, I didn’t see that break!” you say to your playing partners, while shaking your head and walking over to mark your ball yet again…
Description: Play more break than you normally would on downhill putts. That slow-rolling ball is going to break more than you think coming down the hill! Play less break on uphill putts.
Why it works: Downhill putts need to be struck more softly than flat or uphill putts in order for the ball to finish eighteen inches past the hole. Gravity, you know. Since the ball is rolling more slowly, the slope of the green will affect the ball more, causing the ball to break more than you might expect.
Sir Nick Magically Turns an Uphill Putt into a Downhill Putt
For an excellent (and fun) demonstration of this, have a look at Nick Faldo’s putt for birdie at the 2009 Masters Par 3 tournament.
Of course Augusta National’s lightning-fast greens exaggerate the effect beyond what the Occasional Golfer is likely to see, but the point still stands — downhill putts have more break because the ball rolls more slowly, and gravity therefore has a larger effect on the ball’s path. You can learn how this feels by doing the surround the cup putting drill.
Watch Sir Nick’s uphill putt — there is almost no break going uphill (0:04). But then watch as the ball moves back downhill — there is almost six inches of break coming downhill before Faldo’s slow-rolling ball finally drops (0:12).
Thanks to Sir Nick Faldo for this outstanding demonstration of uphill and downhill putting! This video can help you remember this fact of basic physics when you are out on the course.
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