Golf Lessons: Breaks Washington DC

When reading a putt's break, it's important to keep in mind that two major factors impact how much it breaks: speed and slope. When both of those ingredients are perfectly aligned, it's a winning combination. Read more.

University of Maryland Junior Golf Camp
(301) 403-4181
University of Maryland Golf Course
College Park, MD
 
4 Star Summer Camps at the University of Virginia
(800) 334-7827
PO Box 3387
Falls Church, VA
 
Turfgrass Trends
1775 T Street NW
Washington, DC
 
East Potomac Public Golf Course -Red
202/554-7660
970 Ohio Dr Sw
Washington , DC
Type
Public
# of Holes
9

Data Provided by:
Landscape Architecture Magazine 
(202) 686-2752
4401 Connecticut Avenue
NW Washington, DC
 
University of Maryland Junior Golf Camp
(301) 403-4181
University of Maryland Golf Course
College Park, MD
 
4 Star Summer Camps at the University of Virginia
(800) 334-7827
PO Box 3387
Falls Church, VA
 
Langston Golf Course & Driving Range
202/397-8638
2600 Benning Rd Ne
Washington , DC
Type
Public
# of Holes
18

Data Provided by:
East Potomac Public Golf Course -White
202/554-7660
970 Ohio Dr Sw
Washington , DC
Type
Public
# of Holes
9

Data Provided by:
East Potomac Public Golf Course -Blue
202/554-7660
970 Ohio Dr Sw
Washington , DC
Type
Public
# of Holes
18

Data Provided by:
Data Provided by:

Give Me A Break

Give Me A Break 11/19/07

Peak Vision
When reading a putt’s break, it’s important to keep in mind that two major factors impact how much it breaks: speed and slope. When both of those ingredients are perfectly aligned, it’s a winning combination. Getting there, however, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Take my example here. The five balls bending to the left show the shape of my putt, a real right-to-left “swinger” that takes a nosedive in the last couple feet or so. The middle ball is the apex of my putt’s break and, hence, where I’m aimed (notice how my body and putterblade are aligned toward that spot). Even though I want the ball to go in the hole, I’ve chosen the apex point as a target. (In my mind, all putts—even this one—are straight.) Keeping in mind the length of my putt, I putt toward the middle ball. From that point on, the ball slows down and takes the shape of the hill, breaking hard to the left.

As with any breaking putt, the last 1⁄3 or so of it will break the most as the ball loses steam and takes the shape of the green, so as you read the slope, keep the last few feet in mind.

There are two major factors affecting the break of a putt: the green’s slope and the pace at which you hit the ball.

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Good Breaks

Good Breaks

Good BreaksTo be a great putter, you have to have sound fundamentals. This requires a steady putting stroke that regularly sends the ball rolling in the desired direction. You also ought to have a clear idea of what direction you should roll the ball—not only in the first few feet, but also during the entire distance of the putt. To do this effectively, you need to know how the green breaks by looking at two components of the putt: speed and direction. Some instructors argue that speed is the most important factor in putting because it dictates direction—that is, more speed equals less break, less speed equals more break. No matter how you feel about it, I say that if you aren’t aiming in the right direction, no matter how well you gauge the speed of a putt, you’ll rarely hear the jangle of the ball bouncing into the cup. Frankly, I’d be willing to bet most amateurs miss on the lower side of the cup as opposed to the higher side (often called the “pro side of the cup”), which is why amateurs tend to have putts that lip out and better players have putts that lip in. When you miss on the low side, the ball will always break away from the cup, often leaving you with a testy putt to save par.

To help get your direction to coincide with proper speed, here’s a tip that’s especially helpful on tricky, downhill-breaking putts. First, find a mid-length putt on the practice green with plenty of break. With the help of a playing partner, putt a few balls, and have your partner mark the apex of the break, aka, the spot on the green where the ball begins to break toward the hole. With a tee, have your partner mark the exact apex spot and then see to it you return to your original stance where you putt from. Now that you know where the apex of the break is located, concentrate on putting the ball to the hole, as long as the ball goes around the tee on the higher side of the apex. Continue doing this until you can get a clear idea of how much speed and what direction it takes to cross the apex and then roll toward the hole.

By practicing this kind of drill, you’ll likely find yourself either making more putts or at least missing putts on the so-called “pro side of the cup.” It also aids you in determining on what side of the cup the ball is going to roll in, helping you to concentrate more on putting to a specific spot and then allowing gravity to handle the rest. Try and remember that putts on the high side of the hole always break toward the hole, and putts below the hole always break away from the hole. Think: Never up, never in!

Craig Sasada, PGA, is Director of Golf at the beautiful Poipu Bay Golf Resort on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. For more on the resort, as well as all of Kauai, visit kauaidiscovery.com and poipubay.com .

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Putt the Percentages

Putt The Percentages

Live on the pro side and sink more putts

Percent PuttingThere’s no quicker way to establish yourself as totally clueless on the greens—and to inspire confidence in your opponent—than to set up for a right-to-left putt, make a little pull stroke that sends the ball dead left, and watch the ball meander aimlessly on a path five or six inches below the cup, totally oblivious to the hole. Ditto the left-to-right breaker that you push well right of the hole. There’s a reason they call this “missing on the amateur side”—these are the putts that haven’t got a chance.

If you hit your putts to the high side of the hole, you’ll make a much higher percentage. Hit the putt too high and—if you’ve hit the putt with the correct speed—it still has a chance to trickle in over the edge. Putts never fall in over the edge on the low side.

Here’s a simple, yet extremely effective system, to hit more putts on the pro side of the hole—and to sink a higher percentage of them while you’re at it.

Regardless of whether the putt you’re faced with breaks right or left, you’ll have the greatest opportunity for success if you keep the ball above the hole—otherwise known as the “pro side.” The theory behind this technique is that putts that drop below the hole have little or no chance of finding the bottom of the cup. Your ability to read greens aside, the best way to ensure that your putts never drop below the pro side is to make simple adjustments to your hand and ball position. For right-to-left putts, encourage an inside-square stroke by playing the ball back and your hands forward. For putts that break in the opposite direction, set up with the ball forward and your hands back. These adjustments will make it difficult to push the ball to the low side.

Right-To-Left-Breaking Putt

On a right-to-left-breaking putt, set up with the ball slightly back (about two ball widths) in your stance and with your hands ahead of the ball so that the shaft leans forward (below). These adjustments will encourage a stroke that comes to the ball on a slightly inside-to-square path. More importantly, it minimizes the likelihood of cutting across the ball and pulling it left—the low side—of the hole.

Left To RightLeft-To-Right-Breaking Putt
When you’re facing a putt that breaks right, position the ball forward by one or two ball widths and keep your hands behind the ball so that the shaft tilts slightly away from the hole. From this position, it’s next to impossible to push the putt offline. Instead, your putter will travel along a square-to-square or slightly out-to-in path, keeping your putts on the hole’s high side.

Straight Putt
On a straight putt, focus on keeping the puttershaft in a perfectly vertical position at setup and impact. This will help you utilize the putter’s loft and impart a true roll on the ball.

Former Southern California PGA Metro Chapter Teacher of the Year Larry Brotherton instructs at San Juan Hills C.C. in Dana Point, Calif.
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