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Four possible causes for leaving

your putts short of the hole.


Putting Short is not only frustrating, it also adds to your score and deprives you of useful information.

Putting Short

When you miss long, at least you learn which way your ball will break on the return putt. Leaving the ball short teaches you nothing.

Here are four possible causes that could lead to you leaving your ball short of the hole more than just once or twice during the round:

1. Poor Preparation

Before each round you should get a feel for the speed of the greens. Using reference putts on the practice green, you can calibrate the length of your backstroke to how far the ball travels on a level, uphill, and downhill lie.

When you have to learn this information during your round, you put yourself at risk of misjudging how hard you need to stroke your putts.

2. Stroke Mechanics

The distance your ball travels depends in part on how accurate your contact is with the sweetspot of your putter. Contact the ball off-centre and there will be less energy transfer.

Another common error is decelerating your putter on the downstroke because of your fear of going long. This is often the result of too big a backstroke and the subsequent realisation that it is too big for the distance the ball has to travel.

3. Eye Imbalance

Some golfers have difficulty in judging distance because an imbalance in the muscles of their eyes. They either see the hole shorter than where it is or farther away than what it is.

Short of having your eyes tested, you can build up a record of your putts, noting if you are typically short or long.

4. End of World Syndrome

This sensation is described by Dr Joseph Parent in his book Zen Golf. The self-test of walk-and-drop involves picking a hole about 20 feet away, closing you eyes and walking towards the hole. When you think you are at the hole, you drop a ball.

To quote Dr Parent "Most people stop short of the hole. They may start taking smaller, tentative steps as they get near to the point where they think the hole is, as if they're not allowed to go past."

Going Long

Going long is better than putting short as there is always a possibility that you may hole the putt. However, if your ball is travelling too fast, there won't be enough time for the hole to capture the ball.

A ball has to drop at half of its diameter or more before it hits the back wall for it to stay in the hole.

From my experience most golfers tend to leave their putts short rather than go long. Ideally you want your putts to travel just beyond the hole if they miss.

However, having too long a return putt can be just as daunting as having a putt of a similar length from short of the hole.

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Related Topics

reference putts




Going long

travel just beyond