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Putting Guesswork is involved when you

are playing on an unfamiliar course.


There is always a first time for every course. Without any knowledge of the greens, you should concentrate on your distance control to avoid long second putts.

Zero Experience

On a new course with no experience to draw on you will have to rely on the basic skills of putting to get by.

If you play at different courses you will come across the situation that you are unfamiliar with the greens of a particular course.

This is not ideal especially when the greens are fast, heavily contoured and there is a subtle break to most putts.

Before the round you may have an opportunity to gain some knowledge on the practice putting green by referencing the probable speed of the greens.

After that you are on your own unless you have the services of a local caddie. Most course yardage books unfortunately give little information about each green. (see Hole 12 below)

Green Speed

Out on the course hopefully the greens will run at a speed that is similar to that of the practice putting green. This is not always the case.

Judging how hard to strike your putt so that it gets to the hole will be your main challenge. Too soft and you will come up short, too hard and you will be left with a long come-back putt.

Most three putts are the result of a poor first putt. This is a putt that is either way short or way past. If you can leave your approach putt within a foot or two of the hole, the percentages are in your favour that you should hole the next putt.

Some Advice

So my advice is to take special care on your first putt in order to safeguard your second putt.

In some cases you may have chipped up close and left yourself with a makeable putt of four or five feet. If the greens are running slow you can be bold and aim within the hole.

However, if the greens are fast, how you read the break becomes that much more important. Here you have to match the speed with your read which is not based on previous experience, but on a first-time observation.

Putting Guesswork

The trick is to guess where you think the fall line through the hole is. Based on the relationship of your ball to the fall line, you can predict which way your ball will break.

The amount of the break will be determined by the degree of the slope over which your ball has to travel and how fast it is travelling.

On all putts the faster your ball is approaching the hole, the less it will break. However, the downside is that the faster the speed of travel, the greater the chance that the ball will lip out.

Putting on a new course is always more challenging than your home course. However, you can minimise your putting guesswork by working hard to get your first putt close to the hole. 

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Related Topics

basic skills of putting

referencing the probable speed

greens are fast

fall line