Improve your putting stroke with this simple exercise

On the Mark 

Improve your putting stroke with this simple exercise.

By Scott Sackett

We all want to make more putts and do so from every length. There are many theories out there regarding how to improve your putting stroke and drills that help with distance or directional control. What I’ve found is there isn’t a whole lot in putting you can take from the practice green out to the course that will help right away.

Something simple, which could be extremely useful for visual learners, is by picturing the area around the hole as a clock. You can take this immediately from the practice tee to the course and begin seeing gains in your putting. In the image to the right, you’ll see the basic clock layout with 12, 3, 6, and 9 laid out with a straight line going from 12 to 6 and 3 to 9, forming a 90-degree angle in the cup.

When assessing your ball on the green and finding it’s relation to the clock, you’ll want to look for where the uphill straight putt is. That is always 6 on the clock. This is called the fall line or zero line. Meanwhile, 3 is 90 degrees right to left and 9 is 90 degrees left to right; 12 typically would be a straight downhill putt.

When out on the course, this assessment can be performed quickly using your feet to feel the ground. The ball will always break towards the fall line, regardless of its position in the clock. Keep in mind, the farther away from the hole the ball gets, the more likely it will be that other parts on the green (crowns, shoulders, drainage lines) will influence how the ball breaks. You can still always look for the fall line on longer putts to gain knowledge or insight as to how the ball might break as it approaches the hole.

When practicing, place12 balls at each time and start at 6 working your way around clockwise or counterclockwise (your preference). In our example, if we work our way counterclockwise (6, 5, 4, 3, etc.) around the clock, you’ll find that the closer the ball is to the fall line (on either side), the less it breaks and the closer the ball is to 90 degrees to the fall line, the more the ball will break.

This is a simple, easy, and fun way to practice putting and something that if you implement while playing, you’ll see immediate gains on the course.


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